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Post-modernity and post-traumatic stress disorder

Authors
Disciplines
  • Linguistics
  • Medicine
  • Psychology

Abstract

The after effects of trauma have assumed a central role in the discourses of psychiatry and psychology in recent years. Most commentators have looked for an explanation of this explosion of interest in trauma, to developments within psychiatry and psychology. However, it is argued here that important cultural changes in the Western world have produced the conditions in which this interest has come about. The advent of post-modernity has witnessed an undermining of social stability and coherence and a systematic weakening of those cultural institutions which provide meaning and order for individuals. Following trauma, the development of the characteristic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is currently understood to arise from a breakdown of meaning within the victim's world. I seek to establish an association between PTSD and the culture of post-modernity. I argue that this connection has important implications with regard to our understanding of the relationship between trauma and culture more generally.

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