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J Trauma Stress. 2011 Feb;24(1):3-24. doi: 10.1002/jts.20618. Epub 2011 Feb 4.

Considering PTSD from the perspective of brain processes: a psychological construction approach.

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  • 1Women's Health Sciences Division, VA National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, USA


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex psychiatric disorder that involves symptoms from various domains that appear to be produced by the combination of several mechanisms. The authors contend that existing neural accounts fail to provide a viable model that explains the emergence and maintenance of PTSD and the associated heterogeneity in the expression of this disorder (cf. Garfinkel & Liberzon, 2009). They introduce a psychological construction approach as a novel framework to probe the brain basis of PTSD, where distributed networks within the human brain are thought to correspond to the basic psychological ingredients of the mind. The authors posit that it is the combination of these ingredients that produces the heterogeneous symptom clusters in PTSD. Their goal is show that a constructionist approach has significant heuristic value in understanding the emergence and maintenance of PTSD symptoms, and leads to different and perhaps more useful conjectures about the origins and maintenance of the syndrome than the traditional hyperreactive fear account.

Copyright © 2011 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

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