UCL News


Demystifying post-traumatic stress disorder

26 November 2003

In his new book, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Malady or Myth?, Professor Chris Brewin (Psychology) seeks to discover the extent to which post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a genuine medical condition.

Professor Chris Brewin

PTSD emerged during the Vietnam War and has increased as more people bear witness to distressing events, usually violent in nature. After ten years of researching and treating the condition, Professor Brewin is a leading expert on PTSD, memory and neuroscience, and analyses how the impact of trauma affects memory and identity.

Professor Brewin said: "During extremely traumatic events the brain is unable to register events in the normal way. Although conscious memories are limited, quite detailed images are recorded that have no proper context attached to them. As a result, trauma reminders lead people to vividly re-experience these images as though the event were happening all over again. Trauma also has the ability to bring about profound changes in identity and block normal mechanisms for correcting abnormal memory. I would say that PTSD is not a myth but that we still have a long way to go in understanding exactly what causes the symptoms and what is the most accurate way of describing responses to trauma."

To find out more about Professor Brewin or the book use the links below.

Professor Brewin
Yale University Press