Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


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Malady or Myth?

Chris R. Brewin

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As more individuals bear witness to terrorist attacks, school shootings, or assaults, there has been an increase in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a diagnosis that has generated controversy since its genesis during the Vietnam War. Is PTSD real or is it a modern myth? Is the counseling of its victims valuable or possibly harmful? Are the memories of childhood trauma uncovered by many people valid or are they unwitting fabrications?
In this groundbreaking book, Chris Brewin, an internationally recognized expert on trauma, presents recent research on PTSD, memory, and neuroscience and offers a powerful new theory to explain conflicting findings about the nature and treatment of traumatic stress.
At the core of the book is an analysis of how the impact of trauma affects memory and identity. Overwhelming stress can lead to a condition in which survivors are lost for words to describe what has happened to them but still experience vivid and inescapable images. Trauma also has the ability to bring about profound changes in identity and block normal mechanisms for correcting abnormal memory. Building on this analysis, Brewin explains why some interventions work and others are ineffective, and what could and should be done to help survivors.

Chris R. Brewin is professor of clinical psychology, University College London. He also participates in the clinical service provided by the Traumatic Stress Clinic, where he specializes in the treatment of PTSD.

“A work of original and solid scholarship that will be a notable contribution to the study of traumatic stress.”—Patricia Resick, University of Missouri, St. Louis

“A valuable and timely contribution to the field of trauma. It draws on a broad diversity of historical, political, and scientific knowledge, woven together in a clear, readable fashion.”—Patricia Watson, National Center for PTSD

"The book provides an insider view into how different perspectives regarding posttraumatic stress disorder emerged historically and how they continue to be played out in the treatment arena. An excellent read for professionals and laymen who wish to get an overview and sharp analysis of the central issues in the field of traumatology."—Rachel Yehuda, Professor of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine 

“Chris Brewin has presented a cogent and scholarly work examining the myths, facts and controversies surrounding a disorder that is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. The book provides an insider view into how different perspectives regarding posttraumatic stress disorder emerged historically and how they continue to be played out in the treatment arena. Most impressive are discussions demonstrating how the process of science, particularly cognitive neuroscience, continues to contribute to our understanding of the human response to trauma. This is an excellent read for professionals and laymen who wish to get an overview and sharp analysis of the central issues in the field of traumatology.”— Rachel Yehuda, Professor of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

"This volume is well organized, is clearly written, and uses the current research about trauma's impact on memory."—Donald D. Denton, Jr., American Journal of Psychiatry

"Brewin's book has many virtues.  It is marvelously written and never dull.  He takes pains to present both sides of the debates he discusses. . . . Brewin is firmly committed to a scientific, data-based approach to resolving controversies. . . . Brewin does a nice job of laying out the arguments for both sides of this theoretical controversy, and his fairness to both sides is one of the many strengths of this stimulating and important book.  Even if Brewin cannot provide the ultimate answers at this time, he certainly is posing the right questions."—Richard J. McNally, American Journal of Psychology

“This book is a welcome addition to the development of understanding PTSD. . . . Valuable to both clinician and academic, pulling together multiple strands into a coherent, and ongoing, narrative concerning PTSD.”—Nick Grey, Behavioral and Cognitive Psychotherapy

“Brewin traces the history of the many controversies surrounding the study of posttraumatic stress disorder in particular and recovered memories in general. . . . His greatest and unique contribution . . . is his ability to organize information from diverse sources in an unbiased way and to shed light on these problems. . . . Recommended.”—Choice

“The work . . . most certainly makes a significant contribution to the literature in the field of PTSD research and treatment.”—Mark S. Roberts, Metapsychology

“This book is essential reading for anyone interested in trauma, and it introduces key concepts about emotion and memory.”—Lewis Wolpert, Observer

"Very readable and informative. . . . A valuable resource for clinicians and researchers alike. . . Students of the subject will find this a useful introduction to many of the issues that PTSD raises. . . . In Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Malady or Myth? Chris Brewin has drawn together thinking from a wide range of sources and added to it a helpful clarity.  It is to be recommended to the student and the experienced practitioner alike."—Philip S. Crockett, Psychological Medicine

“During the past twenty years we have made extraordinary advances in understanding the human stress response and treating PTSD. Such progress has also generated bitter controversies encompassing laboratory protocols, mental health practice, forensic tactics, journalistic behavior, and public uproar. Chris Brewin provides an adroitly balanced and comprehensive review that sparkles with scientific rigor, clinical wisdom, historical perspective, and a wry sense of humor.”—Matthew J. Friedman M.D., Ph.D., National Center for PTSD & Dartmouth Medical School

Selected as Highly Commended in the Mental Health Category for 2004 by the British Medical Association
ISBN: 9780300123746
Publication Date: March 28, 2007
288 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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