Departmental Talk

Dr. Jennifer Coleman lead the departmental talk regarding the correlation between race and posttraumatic stress disorder. Her field of research has produced a number of interesting and surprising findings that contribute to the mental and physical background of race related PTSD. What stuck out most was that studies suggest that those who are white have similar or worse mental health compared to their African American counterparts. This is unexpected because in terms of psychological and physiological health, it is often the case that African Americans and others of a minority status have historically reported worse health conditions. In fact, much of the discussions we have had in class has rarely provided evidence that disputed the notion that African Americans and other minorities are significantly more disadvantaged in many of these health-related facets compared to members of a Caucasian background. However, despite this, Coleman’s talk also provided evidence that is congruent with the information that has been disseminated in class. For example, she discussed the relevance of the stress response system and how minority veterans were at a greater risk for more heavily stressing such system. This is analogous to the most recent documentary we have watched: Unnatural Causes: In Sickness and in Wealth, particularly in the section that discusses the congruence between subordinate monkeys who have little autonomy experiencing an overworked stress response and thereby being more susceptible to mental and physical deterioration and subordinate workers who share the same experience. Furthermore, while we have dabbled on the concept of intergenerational and transgressional transmission of trauma and other health issues, Coleman reviews it in depth. This transmission of trauma can be experienced in a variety of ways, such as through beliefs, behaviours, emotions, racial socialisation, values, biology, stories, and laws or policies. She relates it back to an event that has impacted the people around me: 9/11. Though it had not directly affected me, it has changed how the behaviours and attitudes of not only those who I care about who have been there but also the people of New York that I am constantly around.

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