Continuous Traumatic Stress

Cover of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology (medium)

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Vol. 19, No. 2, May 2013
Item #: 6041905
ISBN: 978-1-4338-1547-8
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Other Format: Hard copy
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About the special issue

This special issue emerged out of a growing recognition that existing conceptualizations of traumatic stress, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD, may have limited utility in conditions of realistic, ongoing threat and danger.

These concepts assume that trauma exposure (whether it has been a single event or a cumulative series of episodes) is past and finite, that enduring traumatic stress symptoms are maladaptive "false alarms" conditioned by previous experiences, and that recovery entails reworking these "false alarm" responses in a relatively safe current environment.

The special issue revisits the concept of "continuous traumatic stress." Continuous traumatic stress is a term that was originally developed in the 1980s by a group of mental health professionals working in apartheid-era South Africa, who were attempting to provide psychological support to victims of political violence within a context of ongoing state repression.

Continuous traumatic stress offers one possible way of describing the psychological impact of living in conditions in which there is a realistic threat of present and future danger, rather than only experiences of past traumatic events, and foregrounds the difficulties of addressing past exposure in the context of an accurate appraisal of the potential for current and future harm.

Articles in this issue


Understanding and Intervening in Contexts of Ongoing Danger, Violence, and Threat
Pages 73–74
Opotow, Susan; Luke, Timothy J.

Continuous Traumatic Stress: Conceptual Conversations in Contexts of Global Conflict, Violence and Trauma
Pages 75–84
Stevens, Garth; Eagle, Gillian; Kaminer, Debra; Higson-Smith, Craig

Part I: Conceptual and Theoretical Dimensions of Continuous Traumatic Stress

Continuous Traumatic Stress: Expanding the Lexicon of Traumatic Stress
Pages 85–99
Eagle, Gillian; Kaminer, Debra

Nonpathological Response to Ongoing Traumatic Stress
Pages 100–111
Diamond, Gary M.; Lipsitz, Joshua D.; Hoffman, Yaakov

Exposure to Violence Across Multiple Sites Among Young South African Adolescents
Pages 112–124
Kaminer, Debra; du Plessis, Bernice; Hardy, Anneli; Benjamin, Arlene

Part II: Psychosocial Impacts of Continuous Traumatic Stress

Relational Trauma in Times of Political Violence: Continuous Versus Past Traumatic Stress
Pages 125–137
Pat-Horenczyk, Ruth; Ziv, Yuval; Asulin-Peretz, Lisa; Achituv, Michal; Cohen, Sarale; Brom, Danny

Appetitive Aggression and Adaptation to a Violent Environment Among Youth Offenders
Pages 138–149
Weierstall, Roland; Hinsberger, Martina; Kaminer, Debra; Holtzhausen, Leon; Madikane, Solomon; Elbert, Thomas

Shallow Affect, No Remorse: The Shadow of Trauma in the Inner City
Pages 150–163
Roach, Christopher B.

Part III: Intervention Strategies to Address Persistent Violence, Danger and Threat

Counseling Torture Survivors in Contexts of Ongoing Threat: Narratives From Sub-Saharan Africa
Pages 164–179
Higson-Smith, Craig

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Youth Who Experience Continuous Traumatic Exposure
Pages 180–195
Murray, Laura K.; Cohen, Judith A.; Mannarino, Anthony P.

Community Intervention During Ongoing Political Violence: What Is Possible? What Works?
Pages 196–208
Mpande, Eugenia; Higson-Smith, Craig; Chimatira, Rodgers Joseph; Kadaira, Abigail; Mashonganyika, Jane; Ncube, Qalani Mike; Ngwenya, Sehlule; Vinson, Gregory; Wild, Robin; Ziwoni, Nhamo

Concluding Paper

Continuous Traumatic Stress: Personal Reflections 25 Years On
Pages 209–217
Straker, Gillian

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