Dissertation Abstracts

The Sociology of Trauma: The Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Elements of PTSD

Author: Nascimento, Leonardo F
Department: Institute of Social and Political Studies (IESP)
University: State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Brazil
Supervisor: João Feres Júnior
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: Portuguese

Areas of Research: Mental Health and Illness , Body in the Social Sciences , Disasters


This dissertation examines the social processes related to the reception of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Brazil. Originating in the United States during the 1980, this diagnostic category first appeared in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – DSM-III, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association – APA. It soon became one of the most studied and diagnosed syndrome of contemporary psychiatry. In order to map out the interrelated processes of diffusion and construction of PTSD, I analyzed many sources including: the daily operation of a research and treatment psychiatric institution; the verbal exchanges between psychiatrists and patients during medical appointments; psychiatric manuals, diagnostic tables and questionnaires; and mass media articles on PTSD. The approach adopted here intends to go beyond the apparent dilemma between a medicalized conception of PTSD as a natural phenomenon and an anthropological approach that sees PTSD as a culturally construed social experience. Finally, I also intend to show that the political and cultural underpinnings of the so-called “mental disorders” cannot be correctly understood without taking into consideration the longue dureé dynamics of contemporary societies.

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