Cecil Gibb Research Seminar Series: The Social Psychological Foundations of Trauma and PTSD

Professor Orla Muldoon is the Head of Department and Founding Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Limerick, Ireland. Since graduating from the Queens University Belfast, she has been engaged in teaching and research in the area of social psychology. This arises from a fascination with social psychology as well as a belief that theoretically grounded and methodologically sound psychological research can be a positive force for progressive social change. Professor Muldoon’s overarching research interest concerns the impact of group memberships on group relations and health. Her research is informed by the social identity tradition as it allows the exploration of how group memberships - collective or social identities- are central to individual psychology and wider social and intergroup relations. Currently she is managing an ERC Advanced grant that explores whether adversity, trauma and its psychological consequences are driven by social identity change. More on the project is available here - Four Irish Winners of ERC Advanced Grant Awards – €10 Million Investment in Irish Research | News | Irish Research Council.

In this talk, Professor Muldoon will outline how trauma and traumatic experience interweaves the personal with the political. Trauma risk though often experienced very personally is fundamentally linked to group memberships. Once we begin to see that trauma and groups are inherently linked, groups become pivotal to understanding adjustment and adaptation to trauma. Both new and existing group memberships can become bound up with and defined by trauma. Groups status, recourse to justice, and trust and solidarity within the group, are all central to the impact of traumatic events on individual-level psychological resilience. Evidence from ongoing qualitative and quantitative research that supports this analysis will be offered. This highlights the value on the one hand of solidarity and strong identities and the negative potential of stigma and social exclusion on individual physical and psychological indices of stress.