Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is something that impacts people worldwide, from combat veterans to children in and fleeing war torn areas. It also has an interesting history. While it is not a new experience for humankind, as we’ve been exposed to trauma since the beginning of our species, the way that we view the illness, the stigmas attached to it, and the way that we treat those who experience PTSD has changed drastically since the twentieth century. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states that, “From an historical perspective, the significant change ushered in by the PTSD concept was the stipulation that the etiological agent was outside the individual (i.e., a traumatic event) rather than an inherent individual weakness (i.e., a traumatic neurosis). The key to understanding the scientific basis and clinical expression of PTSD is the concept of ‘trauma.’”  How PTSD is viewed and understood has been under constant review, moving from the notion that it was an internal personal weakness to being something that can affect everyone and is caused by external factors, such as combat, attack, disaster, and trauma of various kinds. Currently, examples of PTSD are not hard to find. From the United States involvement in the longest war in its history to the children that are fleeing Syria, trauma is all around us. Organizations are working to help people understand the experiences that these survivors go through, to help bridge that gap between society and the trauma survivors, and to help those with PTSD heal.
This is where anthropologists, alongside other medical professionals and organizations dedicated to supporting those who struggle with returning to a normal life, come into play. Anthropologists like Erin Finley have done field work and engaged with those who suffer from PTSD, specifically in the United States. She is working to understand how PTSD functions, how it affects people, and how we can help.
 Friedman, Matthew J. “PTSD History and Overview.” February 23, 2016. Accessed August 14, 2016. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/PTSD-overview/ptsd-overview.asp.
Lende, Daniel. “Anthropology and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Among Veterans: An Interview with Erin Finley | Neuroanthropology.” July 18, 2011. Accessed August 14, 2016. http://blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2011/07/18/anthropology-and-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-among-veterans-an-interview-with-erin-finley/.
Finley, Erin. “Cultural Aspects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Thinking on Meaning and Risk.” June 4, 2008. Accessed August 14, 2016. https://neuroanthropology.net/2008/06/04/cultural-aspects-of-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-thinking-on-meaning-and-risk/.