The Impact of Trauma on the Individual and Society Honors Seminar 370 Spring 2013

Download 55.83 Kb.
Date conversion24.05.2016
Size55.83 Kb.
The Impact of Trauma on the Individual and Society

Honors Seminar 370

Spring 2013
Dr. Bethany Brand Office Hours:

Office: LA 3151 Mondays 6:50-7:50 pm

Phone: (410)704 -3067 Wednesdays 3-4 pm (except 1st Mondays)

Email: Thursdays 2:30-3:30

Course Objectives:
The purpose of this course is to provide theoretical understanding of the impact of psychological trauma at the individual and societal level. Students will become familiar with the impact and nature of a wide variety of traumas including: childhood abuse, violent crimes in adulthood, domestic violence, accidents, traumatic deaths, natural disasters, and war and genocide. In the first third of the course, students will participate in group discussions about the psychological disorders, interpersonal difficulties, and neurophysiological alterations associated with trauma. In preparation for these and later discussions, students will read case accounts of traumatized individuals, original professional journal articles, and classic texts written by trauma experts, and watch movies that depict trauma. In the middle third of the class, we will broaden our focus to the impact of trauma on society by studying the economic and social costs of trauma, and investigating political, philosophical, literary, musical, and artistic figures whose lives were influenced by trauma. We will also explore issues related to resiliency and prevention of violence. In the last part of the class, students will present projects in which they share knowledge they have developed in self-directed explorations about the role of trauma on either well-known figures or people in their lives. To enhance our understanding of the impact of trauma, we will have guest speakers who are leaders in child protective services, therapists who specialize in treating trauma survivors, and trauma survivors. We will engage in experiential learning by doing group activities related to trauma and its prevention.
Required Course Readings:


Perry, B. & Szalavitz, M. (2006). The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0465056539

Herman, J. (1997). Trauma and recovery. New York: Basic Books. ISBN-10: 0465087302

Brand, B.L. & Loewenstein, R.J. (2010). Dissociative disorders: An overview of assessment, phenomenology and treatment. Psychiatric Times, 27 (10), 62-69.

Brand, B. L., Myrick, A. C., Loewenstein, R. J., Classen, C. C., Lanius, R., McNary, S. W., Pain, C., & ... Putnam, F. W. (2012). A survey of practices and recommended treatment interventions among expert therapists treating patients with dissociative identity disorder and dissociative disorder not otherwise specified. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 4(5), 490-500. doi:10.1037/a0026487

Kessler, R.C. (2000). Posttraumatic stress disorder: The burden to the individual and to society. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 61, 4-12.

Zielinski, D.S. (2009). Child maltreatment and adult socioeconomic well-being. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33, 666-678.

Additional Resources:

-Trauma Division (APA Div. 56):

-International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies:

-National Center for PTSD:

-The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation:

-David Baldwin’s Trauma Pages:
Alice Miller. (1991). The Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and Destructiveness. Anchor Books: New York. ISBN 0-385-26764-9

Course Objectives: The following objectives have been identified as critical to understanding the impact of trauma and its treatment. They are consistent with the learning goals and outcomes of an undergraduate major in psychology, according to the American Psychological Association. The specific learning goals identified by the American Psychological Association’s Board of Educational Affairs are noted in parenthesis after each objective.
1. Describe the symptoms, behavioral patterns, and underlying psychological and biological changes associated with child and adult psychopathology that are associated with trauma as identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders-IV (APA Learning Goal 1: Theory and Content of Psychology).
2. Explain how the trauma related disorders have been conceptualized and treated over history (APA Learning Goal 1: Theory and Content of Psychology).
3. Encourage students to think critically about how cultural, historical and individual differences influence how individuals and society respond to trauma (Learning Goal 3: Thinking Skills in Psychology; Learning Goal 8: Sociocultural and International Awareness).
4. Develop students’ awareness of the broad-ranging influence of trauma across history and cultures (Learning Goal 3: Thinking Skills in Psychology; Learning Goal 8: Sociocultural and International Awareness).
5. Help students build tolerance and understanding of those with trauma related difficulties through careful, balanced discussion of both the deficits and strengths of those afflicted by trauma-related conditions. (Learning Goal 5: Values in Psychology).

Your grade will be determined by the number of points you earn in the semester out of a total possible of 500 points. Class participation will be a strong factor in determining borderline grades for the class. If you are going to be late or miss a class, I expect that you will notify me ahead of time by calling me or telling me in class the week before.

The exam will be a combination of essays. Students will need to bring blue examination books, available at the University bookstore, to the exam. I adhere to the University’s policy on cheating and plagiarism. This course may be repeated only once without the prior permission of the Academic Standards Committee.

A = 465-500 points

A - = 448-464 points

B + = 432-447 points

B = 415-431 points

B - = 399-414 points

C + = 383-398 points

C = 365-382 points

D + = 349-364 points

D = 333-348 points

D - = 317-332 points

F = below 316

Components of the Grade: Points Possible

Midterm exam 200 points

Reflection essays (4, each worth 25 points) 100 points

In-Class Group Write Up 50 points

Class Presentation 50 points

Trauma Paper 100 points

500 points

If you need accommodation due to a disability, please make an appointment to see me, and bring a statement from Disability Support Services (4-2638) authorizing your accommodation.

Academic Honesty: All class members are to follow the fundamental principles of academic integrity outlined in the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct. The Policy on Academic Misconduct appears in the Code and in the Schedule of Classes. The basic principle is that students take credit only for the ideas and efforts that are their own. Any act of academic dishonesty will place you in jeopardy of the most severe form of sanction by Towson University - expulsion from the University.  

Included among dishonest behaviors in an academic setting are cheating (using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance, materials, information, or study aids in an academic exercise), fabrication (falsifying or inventing information in an academic exercise), plagiarism (adopting or reproducing of ideas, words, or statements of another person without appropriate acknowledgment), interference (stealing, changing, destroying, or impeding another student's work), and facilitating (intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another student commit an act of academic misconduct).  Examples of plagiarism include using more than five words in a row that are not one’s own used without citing the author; quoting an author’s work extensively with proper citation but with little critique or synthesis in the student’s own words; slightly changing the words an author used and attempting to pass them off as one’s one words.

Reflection Essays: Throughout the semester, write a two page, double-spaced response for the reflection questions based on your understanding and reactions to the readings. Most weeks the questions will be related to the content of the readings to ensure you adequately understand them. One week I ask your personal reflections and reactions to the readings. If your reflection is very well written (without grammar or spelling difficulties), and shows you read and successfully comprehended the readings, you will earn full credit (i.e., all 25 points). I grade these reflections with only three levels of points: 25, 10 or 0. I will not accept any late reflections (unless you have written documentation of an unavoidable emergency). You need only do 4 of the 7 offered reflections. I will not accept extra reflections. These will provide good review for the exam and for class discussions.
Trauma Project Presented to Class
Through this self-directed project, I want to provide you with an opportunity to further delve into some aspect of the impact trauma that interests you. You will present a 15 minute class presentation in which you will share what you explored and learned. Some students will chose to use PowerPoint slides for their presentations while others might use other forms of media (e.g., playing music or video clips). I will provide class time to meet with each of you to hear about the topic you would like to pursue and to determine if your topic is acceptable. I will provide approval for topics that are feasible in scope and that have educational merit to the individual student as well as the class. The following topics are some ideas:

  • investigate the long-term individual or societal impact of a well known trauma such as Hurricane Sandy, 911’s impact on people living in NYC, the impact of military combat (it may help focus your paper to choose a specific war), etc. Discuss how the individuals and/or the segment of society involved in this trauma attempt to recover from the trauma. Are there any efforts being made to prevent similar traumas in the future?

  • analyze how trauma such as genocide has shaped a particular country or region of the world. What’s being done to help the traumatized individuals?

  • do a service project with trauma survivors and write a paper that synthesizes what you experienced first-hand with the material from class

  • present the work of a political figure, humanitarian, writer, artist, or musician that has been traumatized; discuss how trauma shaped their work. What ramifications did their trauma exposure have on others? Give particular attention to symptoms/problems as well as any areas of resiliency/posttraumatic growth that may be related to their trauma. You might discuss any historical, cultural, and intrapersonal variables contributed to the person’s response over time to the trauma.

Trauma Paper

You need to write paper that is the written basis of your presentation to the class. Use APA style and provide a reference list including at least 6 professional citations. These papers should be approximately 8 - 10 pages.

In Class Group Write Up

We will work on a couple of group activities in class including a summary of a violence/trauma prevention project that you research on the web and a letter to a policy maker. You need to turn in one of these projects for credit.

Emergency Statement (TU Office of the Provost)
In the event of a University-wide emergency, course requirements, classes, deadlines and grading schemes are subject to changes that may include alternative delivery methods, alternative methods of interaction with the instructor, class materials, and/or classmates, a revised attendance policy, and a revised semester calendar and/or grading scheme. In the case of a University-wide emergency, I will attempt to communicate with you via e-mail.
For more general information about any emergency situation, please refer to the following:

Web Site:

Telephone Number: 410-704-2000

TU Text Alert System Sign-up at: This is a service designed to alert the Towson University community via text messages to cell phones when situations arise on campus that affect the ability of the campus - students, faculty and staff - to function normally.

Influenza Policy Statement (TU Office of the Provost): “Students should not attend classes or other university events from the onset of flu-like symptoms until at least 24 hours after the fever subsides without the use of fever reducing medications. Such absences will be considered excused absences; however, students are responsible for the material covered during the period of their absence.”

Please read assignments prior to each class meeting.

Week of




Introduction to the Course, Overview of Trauma & Its Impact: The Case of Tina

Perry pp. 1 - 80

Reaction paper due Thursday: Perry refers frequently to “use dependence” as one of the mechanisms that lead to neurophysiological changes related to trauma. Explain what he means.


The Impact of Early Trauma and Neglect on Children’s Brains and Behavior

Perry pp. 81 – 178.

Reaction paper due Tuesday: Imagine that you are the director of a trauma clinic. You are asked to provide treatment to a girl who is 7 yet can’t talk or walk and is terrified of people due to extreme neglect. Describe the main aspects of the treatment you and your staff would provide to her and your rationale for using these methods.


The Importance of Attachment

Perry pp. 179-250

Reaction paper due Tuesday: Perry uses Raven’s case to introduce dissociation, a defense used to ward off the impact of trauma. Discuss what dissociation is and how it can help someone survive trauma. Offer your opinion about whether dissociation is more protective or harmful of individuals as a long-term coping strategy.


Severe Deprivation and Early Chronic Terror: The Physiological Impact

Perry pp. 125- 246

Reaction paper due Tuesday: Summarize the biological impact of early trauma and neglect on a developing child.


How trauma “costs” society.

Kessler, R.C. (2000). Posttraumatic stress disorder: The burden to the individual and to society. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 61, 4-12.
Zielinski, D.S. (2009). Child maltreatment and adult socioeconomic well-being. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33, 666-678.


Terror & Disconnection

Herman pp. 1- 73

Reaction paper: A young woman was verbally abused and molested by her dad as a child; she currently dates men who treat her just as poorly as did her father. Using Herman’s text, explain why this dynamic is so common among abused people.




No class – Spring Break


Reenactments; the Treatment of Trauma

Students meet with Dr. Brand to discuss class presentation projects

Herman pp. 74-236 (briefly skim the chapters on treatment pp. 133-236)
Reaction paper; Based on what you’ve read in Herman and class discussions, why can’t many trauma survivors “just get over it” and stop thinking and experiencing problems related to trauma?


Trauma in Films

View and discuss a movie such as Precious or Mysterious Skin

Read for your paper and presentation.


Dissociation as an Escape from Severe Trauma

Brand & Loewenstein, 2010, Psychiatric Times
Brand et al. 2012 Expert survey of practices.


Class trip: see a play or movie as a group

Read for your paper and presentation.


Guest speaker: A Survivor’s Story
Papers Due on Thursday 4/25

Cathy Rose speaks about surviving mother-daughter incest and her experiences as a woman who experienced complex trauma.


In Class Group Projects:

  • How Historical and Political Figures’ Lives Were Altered by Trauma: Hitler, Stalin, others?

  • Prevention of Trauma

  • Letters to Policy Makers

Miller book; on line sources
Reaction Paper: What has been most upsetting to learn or hear about this semester? How does it change you, the way you relate to others, and the way you view the world?
Bring laptops if available.

5/7 & 5/9

Individual Student Presentations


5/14 & 16

Individual Student Presentations
On 5/16, class meets 3-5 PM


The database is protected by copyright © 2016
send message

    Main page