© 2016

Trauma, Culture, and PTSD


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. C. Fred Alford
    Pages 1-4
  3. C. Fred Alford
    Pages 5-30
  4. C. Fred Alford
    Pages 31-52
  5. C. Fred Alford
    Pages 53-82
  6. C. Fred Alford
    Pages 107-113
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 115-125

About this book


This book examines the social contexts in which trauma is created by those who study it, whether considering the way in which trauma afflicts groups, cultures, and nations, or the way in which trauma is transmitted down the generations.  As Alford argues, ours has been called an age of trauma.  Yet, neither trauma nor post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are scientific concepts.  Trauma has been around forever, even if it was not called that.  PTSD is the creation of a group of Vietnam veterans and psychiatrists, designed to help explain the veterans' suffering.  This does not detract from the value of PTSD, but sets its historical and social context.   The author also confronts the attempt to study trauma scientifically, exploring the use of technologies such as magnetic resonance imagining (MRI).  Alford concludes that the scientific study of trauma often reflects a willed ignorance of traumatic experience.  In the end, trauma is about suffering.  


Trauma transgenerational trauma PTSD Holocaust survivors Maus Art Spiegelman fMRI DESNOS DSM DSM-5 culture neuroscience trauma

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of Maryland, College ParkCOLLEGE PARKUSA

About the authors

C. Fred Alford is Professor of Government and Politics and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA.  He is author of over fifteen books on moral psychology, including Trauma and Forgiveness (2013).

Bibliographic information


“Well structured, thoughtful and written in such a way that the rigour and critical engagement the author brings to his topic does not reduce the pleasure in reading this volume. The author communicates complex ideas without obscuring them. … The book elegantly summarises the relevant models and how they might apply to an understanding of trauma.” (Andrew Beck, The Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy, Vol. 18 (1), March, 2018)