Political Psychology as a Lens for Viewing Traumatic Events

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Abstract

A burgeoning area of scientific inquiry uses psychological perspectives to understand traumatic events. This research has led to the identification of psychological symptoms and disorders frequently experienced in response to traumatic events. Many of the events having traumatic effects on large numbers of persons are of interest to political psychologists. Such events include the Holocaust, war, terrorism, captivity, torture, political migration, living as a political refugee, and assassination. Some interpersonal forms of trauma, such as rape and incest, also may be viewed with a political perspective. Although a number of studies have examined psychological consequences of political events, this area of inquiry is rarely explicitly considered within the domain of political psychology. Adopting an explicitly political psychology perspective on traumatic events may enrich our interdisciplinary understanding of these events and inform the design and evaluation of intervention programs to reduce psychological distress resulting from these events.

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