What is Cultural PTSD?

The Short Answer

On a cultural level, we are thinking and behaving in many important ways like people with PTSD think and behave. That is not to say that we have all been exposed to trauma or are having our own individual experiences with PTSD.  What the theory says is that we collectively hold some important cultural norms, values, and assumptions which are similar to those of people who have PTSD, -and that we are all affected by those cultural norms, values, and assumptions.

This site explains the phenomenon of Cultural PTSD. It then acts as a call to action for us to begin using the concept of Cultural PTSD and trauma informed thinking in order to more clearly understand the roots of some of our most pressing societal problems.

Here is a very quick and condensed version of the theory.  The book Cultural PTSD, The Impact of Humanity’s Trauma Filled History, will be published in late Spring or early Summer of 2019.  All the other articles you can read here are basically draft versions of the full book, and many have already been substantially revised for the full book.



Older versions available:

We’ve been conceiving of and addressing many social level problems as separate problems.  Cultural PTSD says that the majority of these problems are actually interrelated symptoms, and if we instead address the root problem of how we respond to trauma on a cultural level, we can be more effective in addressing the large scale dysfunctional dynamics that plague us on societal levels.  Only by understanding the root causes of our problems can we really resolve them.

The theory has seven main points which can be found here: Cultural PTSD Outline 

From there, I explain and expand on each of the points, and hopefully make convincing arguments for them.

More about the concept can be found here:  Thoughts About the Idea of Cultural PTSD, and in the Preface.



The concept of PTSD is one most people have heard of, but it’s helpful to know exactly what defines the official disorder, and there are some criteria that may be surprising for lay people. PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This page defines PTSD and talks about common symptoms of it. I go into quite a bit of detail on some things towards the bottom of that page, so you may want to focus on the main symptoms and leave the rest for later.