The idea for an interdisciplinary book on trauma emerged from a series of workshops organized and funded by the nonprofit Foundation for Psychocultural Research (FPR). The FPR was founded in 2000 by Robert Lemelson to support interdisciplinary work in neuroscience, psychology, and anthropology. The FPR is dedicated to bringing researchers and clinicians together to think across disciplinary boundaries and address issues of fundamental clinical and social concern. This book is the first in what we expect will be a series of volumes on work at the intersection of culture, brain, and mind. Participants at the first FPR workshop, “New Research on Culture–Brain Interactions,” which took place in Ojai, California, in June of 2001, agreed on psychological trauma as a three-year topical focus that could engage the various disciplines – anthropology, psychology, psychiatry, history, and neurobiology – in meaningful conversation. The incongruity and horror of 9/11 added a sense of urgency to the dialogue, and the second FPR workshop in June 2002 focused specifically on posttraumatic stress disorder as the future conference theme. However, at the urging of the anthropologists, the discussion opened onto a wider set of issues, considering how fear, threat, and danger are experienced across cultures and over time.
Most of the chapters in the present volume are based on papers presented at the first public FPR conference held in December 2002, entitled “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Biological, Clinical, and Cultural Approaches to Trauma's Effects,” which was co-sponsored by the University of California, Los Angeles.