Janine Naß – PTSD

Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms and Traumatic Life Events: Predictions for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

My project deals with new treatment options for post traumatic stress disorders. The main target audience are military personnel who have been traumatized as a consequence of military intervention.

When a military intervention is connected to a situation that involves physical harm or the threat of physical harm, an individual can develop PTSD, even if the individual is not directly affected and only witnesses a harmful event. When in danger, the body prepares to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This protection of the body against harm is called “fight-or-flight” response. In patients with a post-traumatic stress disorder, there is an over-regulation of this response which influences the everyday life of the person. This over-regulation is expressed by different symptoms like flashbacks,(which means reliving the trauma again and again), physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating and bad dreams. These symptoms often lead to a social withdrawal like staying away from places, events, or objects that can remind the patient of his or her experience. Persons affected by PTSD often feel stressed and angry. This situation exacerbates the execution of daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating or concentrating.

Standard therapies are talk therapies and if this does not suffice medication with antidepressants is prescribed. PTSD is a disease which still cannot be overcome for the majority of patients through established medical interventions. For this reason, an effective treatment may consist in multimodal therapies with the inclusion of, for example, Chinese medicine. Because of its long tradition, Chinese medicine seems to offer many alternatives in the therapy of symptoms like depression and anxiety. Chinese medicine has evolved over thousands of years. It includes the usage of herbal medicines with thousands of medicinal substances as well as mind and body practices.

The evaluation of standard therapies and the possibility to integrate Chinese medicine to allow an adequate treatment are the primary intentions of my dissertation project. My research also addresses the question which of the components common in Chinese medicine can be used and which effects they have on the body. In this context, I will also consider ethical issues: The theoretical understanding of the medical body concept in Chinese medicine is an important part compared to western medicine, especially because Chinese medicine demonstrates a completely different understanding of corporality.

In order to complement my medical research, I will also focus on how Chinese medicine is represented in literature. Descriptions of Chinese medicine in literature can give further suggestions for proper treatments. American writing seems to be a good example for that. Due to the fact that many cities in America have Chinatowns, Chinese medicine and culture can be considered a part of American life, which is reflected in literature. Therefore, another question that my project asks is how Chinese medicine is represented in American literature on PTSD.

This new and innovative approach to interdisciplinarity opens up promising perspectives that can be the basis for a new treatment of PTSD.


(1) National Institute of Health; http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml
(2) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/chinesemed.htm?lang=en
(3) Thomas Efferth, Mita Banerjee, Alfred Hornung; Therapeutic Intervention of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder by Chinese Medicine: Perspectives for Transdisciplinary Cooperation Between Life Sciences and Humanities; Medicine studies, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013; August 2013

Author: Janine Naß