Thanks to a friend I read this essay today about a possible way to model PTSD formation–by considering what does or does not happen in the trauma victim’s social environment after the trauma experience. The article discusses 2 different studies, one animal and the other human.
The animal study concludes that kidnapping a mother rat from her pups for more than 15 minutes will result in anxious activity upon reunification in the same cage where the trauma happened. Mother and pups will continue to be over-reactive well beyond the event. However, if mother and pups are reunited in a new environment, the trauma reactions (racing around, stepping on each other, aggressive behaviors) seem not to be present. Might it be that they have a shared job of exploring the new environment?
The human study points to the importance of having reunification symbols or rites of re-entry when bringing child soldiers back into the community. This appears to have value over just quietly pretending that nothing happened.