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War, Psychological Trauma, and Resilience

Mark J. Baird, Psy.D.

A Psychology Course Description and Syllabus on "Suffering & the Good Life"

Clinical Psychologist / Assistant Professor of Psychology, Whitworth University
August 1, 2017

This is a course description and syllabus developed from our 2017 course development grant competition. See below for a downloadable syllabus.

War, Psychological Trauma and Resilience is an upper-division course designed to explore the nature of trauma and the various outcomes that suffering can produce. This course will first survey the major conflicts the American Military has been involved in from the Civil War onward, comparing and contrasting, at a macro level, the variables that led to either increased resiliency and growth, or psychological degradation. We then explore, at a micro level, the individual factors that can either hinder or facilitate emotional, psychological and spiritual growth before, during and after great suffering. Students will explore the various ways humans from a variety of cultures have interacted with suffering from Old Testament to current treatments for PTSD and research on hardiness and Post Traumatic Growth. Students will interview individuals who have experienced growth out of trauma and will produce and present a podcast documentary to both the class and the broader community.

Click here to download the syllabus for War, Psychological Trauma, and Resilience

Course Readings

Renden, J. (2015). Upside, The New Science of Post Traumatic Growth. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Meichenbaum, D. (2014). Roadmap to Resilience: A Guide for Military, Trauma Victims and Their Families. Clearwater, FL: Institute Press.

Frankl, V. (2006). Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Shepard, B. (2001). A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the Twentieth Century.

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Morris, D. (2016). The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. New York, NY: Mariners Books.

Brandt, D. (2010). Pathway to Hell: A Tragedy of the American Civil War. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Van Der Kolk, B. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. New York, NY: Penguin.

Stecker, T. (2011). 5 Survivors: Personal Stories of Healing from PTSD and Traumatic Events. Center City, MN: Hazelden Foundation.

Silko, L. (2006). Ceremony. New York, NY: Penguin Group

Escolas, Pitts, Safer & Bartone (2013). The Protective Value of Hardiness on Military Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms. Military Psychology.

Resick, P.A. (2001). Stress and Trauma. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor & Francis, Inc.

Bedard-Gilligan, M., Jaeger, J., Echiverri-Cohen, A., & Zoellner, L.A. (2012). Individual differences in trauma disclosure. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 43, 716-723.

Herman, J. (1997). Trauma and Recovery. New York, NY: BasicBooks.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Kilpatrick, D.G., Ruggiero, K.J., Acierno, R., Saunders, B.E., Resnick, H.S., & Best, C.L. (2003). Violence and risk of PTSD, major depression, substance abuse/dependence, and comorbidity: Results from a national survey of adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71, 692-700.

Agaibi, C.E., Wilson, J.P. (2005). Trauma, PTSD, and resilience: A review of the literature. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 6, 195-216.

Tedeschi, R.G. & Calhoun, L.G. (2004). Posttraumatic growth: Conceptual foundations and empirical evidence. Psychological Inquiry, 15, 1-18.

Milliken, C.S., Auchterlonie, J.L., Hoge, C.W. (2007). Longitudinal assessment of mental health problems among active and reserve component soldiers returning from the Iraq war. Journal of the American Medical Association, 298, 2141-2148.

Allard, C.B., Nunnink, S., Gregory, A.M., Klest, B., & Platt, M. (2011). Military sexual trauma research: A proposed agenda. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 12, 324-345.

Norris, F.H., Friedman, M.J., Watson, P.J., Byrne, C.M., Diaz, E., & Kaniasty, K. (2002). 60,000 disaster victims speak: Part1. An empirical review of the empirical literature, 1981-2001.

Psychiatry, 65, 207-239.

Jewkes, R. (2002). Intimate partner violence: Causes and prevention. Lancet, 359, 1423-1429.

Foa, E.B., Keane, T.M., Friedman, M.J., & Cohen, J.A (Eds). (2009). Effective Treatments for PTSD: Practice Guidelines from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Resick, P.A., Monson, C.M., & Rizvi, S.L. (2008). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. In D. Barlow’s (Eds.),

Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders (pp87-115). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Course Requirements


(2@ 100 pts. each = 200 pts. total)

The final exam is designed to survey your understanding and retention of the course content and help you integrate the material. You are responsible for material in the text, lectures, and other supplemental materials (e.g., videos, handouts). Exams may include multiple choice, matching, fill- in-the-blank, short answer, and/or essay items.

Critical Thinking Journal

(10 @ 10pts. Each = 100 pts. total)

You will keep a journal of reflective and analytic responses to questions regarding course/lecture/discussion content. The journals will be collected periodically during the semester on pre-assigned dates to ensure completion.

Applied Individual Paper

(50 pts)

You will individually write a research paper about how you can consolidate the course material and apply it to suffering in your life.

Applied Group Project

(150 pts):

You will work in small groups of 3-4 on a project to interview an individual who has grown out of suffering. You will then develop, produce and present a podcast audio documentary.

More details will be available in class.