Sem Trauma as Etiology

From Cognitive and Neurobiological Effects to Societal Implications

Spring 2003 607 Seminar
Title: Sem Trauma as Etiology
Instructors: Jennifer Freyd & Pamela Birrell

Grading option: Optional
Credits: 1-4; CRN = 35543
Instructor's consent required (application form)
Time: M 13:00-14:50 in 156 Stb

Course Home Page

This seminar counts as a "Clinical Elective" for grad students in UO Clinical Psychology program.

Instructor's consent required: (Application Form) THIS CLASS IS NOW FULL. APPLICATIONS WILL BE HELD FOR WAITLIST.


In this seminar we will be exploring the question: how much of human illness and distress -- including physical illness, dysfunction, and diagnosable "mental disorders" -- can be understood as resulting from traumatic experience, particularly from being a victim of mistreatment by other humans? How far can we go accounting for illness and suffering by assuming a "trauma model" in which trauma is considered a primary etiological agent? To what extent should we and can we intelligently challenge the dominance of biological psychiatry in light of these issues? In exploring these questions, we will consider both theoretical and empirical sources. We will grapple with definitions of trauma that include or don't include society-wide forms of oppression such as racism. We will question whether data that support genetic bases may sometimes be interpretable as gene-environment interactions. We will look at the evidence that abuse histories are highly prevalent in so-called "biological disorders" such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorders. How should we interpret these correlations? What implications does the research (and our interpetation of it) have for treatment and prevention of illness and distress? We will consider the historical and political pressures that shape thinking about these difficult issues.

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Click here for Week by Week Topics

Course Work: Participants will be expected to attend all classes and do all assigned reading. Students will be expected to attend all class meetings and to actively participate in seminar discussion. In addition students will lead a class discussion and, in advance of the class meeting, create a handout that includes a summary paragraph for each reading and a set of discussion questions. This handout will be distributed to the class prior to the discussion. After the class, the student(s) leading discussion will revise the handout to capture important discussion points, and then submit the revised handout to the instructors for posting on the course web site.

Application Form: Instructors Consent is Required (for both students who wish to register and those who wish to audit). Applications will be considered as long as there is space available.

Also see

Jennifer Freyd <>
25 February 2003