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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From innovation, through stigma, to origin myth: the changing perception of psychological trauma and its relevance to contemporary forensic issues Marxsen, David


The history of the construct of psychological trauma is traced. This history begins with the often-misundersfood construct of repression and its complex relationship to trauma. In the 1800's, the metaphor of psychological trauma was a radical innovation to most writers. Military physicians, however, had been aware of psychological trauma and its effects centuries earlier. In the present century, changing ideas concerning trauma have been interwoven with contemporary military history. The varieties of experiences that are considered potentially traumatic have multiplied notably over the past few decades, as have the suspected sequelae of that trauma. Accompanying this has been a general trend in taking blame from the victim, and placing it on the traumatic experience. This expansion of cause and effect, and the removal of blame from the victim, has led to the modern phenomenon of 'victim-hood'. The relevance of current views on the subject to the forensic issue is discussed.

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