Based on our previous etic studies from in Germany, Switzerland, North Caucasian states and China, we developed a socio-interpersonal model (Maercker & Horn, 2013), which encompasses social-affective, interpersonal and cultural predictors of PTSD. To extend this model, literature on emic expressions of trauma-related syndromes was collected from psychosocial or anthropological sources. Syndromes were ordered along the following conceptual frameworks: ethnogeography, reference to cultural values, body or soul reference, and metaphorical imagery. Shifting from an etic view on PTSD towards an emic expression of trauma sequelae is promising for both cultural and cross-cultural understandings of the concerned phenomena. The conventional PTSD definition is deeply routed in societies in which self-expression and secular-rational values are prominent. By contrast, in more traditional world-regions oriented towards survival values, somatic expressions and spirit reference prevail. A culturally-informed consideration of trauma sequelae will deepen our understanding of hitherto unresolved questions in PTSD research.
Andreas Maercker, University of Zurich, Switzerland