Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Analyzing the Effects of Witnessing Violent Acts

by Laplanters on February 2, 2016 - 1:01pm

a. Topic & Type of Paper / Justification of Social Issue


     The topic of this paper will be the causes and effects of post-traumatic stress disorder in people who have witnessed, or been victim to, violent acts. This paper will be compartive and analytical, as it will analyze the causes and effects of different instances of PTSD (such as witnessing multiple war-time acts as a soldier, or witnessing a parent be physically abusive, or seeing a random accident such as a deadly car crash), and comparing between them. For instance, a traumatized and homeless war veteran may refuse to seek help though social benefits because they do not trust their government, blaming them for the acts they witnessed, and remain homeless, whereas someone who was physically abused by a parent may be a perfectly functional member of society, but b unable to maintain a romantic relationship because they believe they are undeserving of love. Finally, this paper will suggest ways we can raise awareness of this issue and steps that could be taken by governments and organizations to help alleviate the problem.

     Post-traumatic stress disorder is a social issue because in an age where we have come to realize that your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and that the most severe symptoms of mental illness can sometimes lay dormant for years before manifesting at their worst, there is no reason why there should not be more resources available to those who need help. The social ideal that the government should provide for the needs of it's citizens is not being met. 

     Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness that effects those who have been victims of, or who have witnessed, traumatic events, or who have heard about them (such as getting a phone call and being told that a loved one has just unexpectedly died). Symptoms are often persistent over time, such as anxiety attacks and nightmares leading to lack of sleep, and can be triggered by a number of environmental stimuli that could remind the victim of the traumatic event in question (Erford et al., 2016). While psychotherapy treatments such as exposure therapy and counseling has been shown to provide moderate to high amounts of recovery (CTPTSD, 2008), there is still a long way to go in solving this social problem.


b. 2-3 Major areas of interest / important questions and associated social science disciplines


- Should the government be providing more funding toward mental health awareness for victims of traumatic incidents? (Political Science)

- Is there a social stigma around victims of traumatic events that may prevent them from seeking help for their condition, out of fear of being stigmatized? If so, why? (Sociology, psychology)


c. Who / what groups are involved in this issue?


     Post-traumatic stress disorder is predominantly an individual issue, seeing as it is a mental illness that a particular mind is afflicted with, and can be looked at on an individual level. However, a lot of symptoms can affect social behaviour (such as lack of sleep or increased aggressivity), and as such the issue of PTSD and it's effects can also be looked at the family and, depending on the population, community level.


d. Sources: 

Erford, B. T., Gunther, C., Duncan, K., Bardhoshi, G., Dummett, B., Kraft, J., Defiero, K., Falco, M., & Ross, M. (2016). Meta-Analysis of Counseling Outcomes for the Treatment of Posttraumatic                  Stress Disorder. Journal Of Counseling & Development94(1), 13-30. doi:10.1002/jcad.12058

Committee on Treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Institute of Medicine. (2008). Treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder : An Assessment of the Evidence. Retrieved                                          from


PTSD is an issue that really needs to be talked about and I am glad that you are bringing it up. Mental health seems to be becoming much less of a taboo as time goes on, but there needs to be more pressure to get adequate research and action. Since you seem to be wanting to focus on governments, it would probably be good to emphasize the previous Canadian government's actions when it came to veteran's affairs. Also, if you want to stick to a strictly Canadian point of view, mentioning well-known people like Roméo Dallaire and Clara Hughes would also be good.

You had a good idea to select PTSD for your topic. It can happen to anyone, but I don't feel that there is a high level of awareness towards this disorder in our society. I learned about it in my psychology class, but prior to this class I knew that it existed and I knew that it was the result of a traumatic event since the name is self-explanatory but I was not aware of all the impact that it has on the life of the individual suffering from it. I suggest that you talk about social learning theory when you will talk about the effects of witnessing a parent that is physically abusive since it is directly related. You could also establish a portrait of the population suffering from PTSD (if there is a specific pattern) or just mention the general demographics of these people and the percentage of population that suffers from a PTSD. Anyhow, I really think that you will be covering the most basic aspects of this subject, and it is very important to talk about mental health so I can only wish you the best of luck!

I think you have a great subject to work on. I like the causes and effects that you decided to focus on; it is important to not focus on only one cause of PTSD (let's say veteran of wars that witnessed multiple war-time acts), because there is no cause that is more important or deserve more to be talked about. I like the comparison between the effects of war and abusive parents. They probably need to be treated differently but it all comes to the same end; there is a stigma in society that makes people not want to seek for help. Overall, great subject and great elements. I would definitely read your paper to learn more about it.

The topic of this post is something that is inherently crucial to discuss within modern society, as the effects of mental health issues such as PTSD are noticeable in everyday life. The idea of examining the effects and consequences that specific events may have on human beings and evaluating the steps and actions that can be taken to solve the issue of emotional scars is one that is important to a lot of people. An interesting added analysis, however, would be the inclusion of traumatic situations relating to gender (i.e. the transformation from man to woman or vice-versa for transgender person, living through extreme stereotypes relating to your gender…). Considering the meaning of gender, which seems to be blurred and unclear to a major chunk of the population, an analysis on how these definitions matter to different people and how the stigma associated with these traumatic experiences can be helped through specific actions can only be positive for society. Regarding this topic, an analysis of gender in necessary to include all important aspects of society. Gender is a term created and embedded in society, defining the societal expectations often associated and confused with sex; regarding behavior, preferences, interests, etc. Attached is a Wikipedia page defining this social construct, hopefully aiding your interesting analysis of traumatic events for individuals.