Departmental Talk

    The speaker spoke on the topic of racial differences in PTSD and introduced the rather interesting concept of intergenerational transmission of trauma. I myself did some research on this concept last year, in relation to the intergenerational trauma suffered by the indigenous peoples of Mexico. My understanding of this concept is a group suffering so much pain and trauma that it persists through future generations, enforced by societal structures.

   The speaker also gave some background information about health disparities related to healthcare inequalities, and their impact. As we have discussed in class, she mentioned that a health disparity is characterized by differences in inequality of healthcare, not due to patient preferences or need. She also spoke about consequences of discrimination and racism, and how those reach beyond the microlevel, impacting not only physical health in minority groups but also mental health. Unfortunately, mental health disparities can have more complications. She mentioned that numerous studies show African Americans suffer high rates of PTSD and then spoke about the study she conducted.

    Her study was on the stress response system and PTSD. She based her hypothesis on the Minority Stress Model, believing her African American participants would have higher rates of PTSD and higher symptom clusters of hyperarousal. Her results showed no difference based on race or hyperarousal symptoms, but she did find a correlation between race and the symptom of re-experience. In her discussion, she mentioned her results were maybe not what she expected because her study was based on a Western version of PTSD and we still have much more to understand about this affliction. She also said race as a variable might be a limitation and Caucasians might have less symptoms of re-experience because they are more likely to have access to medication and take it. I was really intrigued by the idea that studies can be biased because they are based on a Western version of mental illness/disorders. It reminded me of our discussions on The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, and how US society views Western medical treatment as the only correct treatment.

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