This page has most of my publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. It also has a book that I co-edited with colleagues, and chapters of the book that I authored and co-authored. Articles and chapters can be downloaded as PDFs.
For papers where I appear first in the author list, I took the lead and wrote all or most of the paper. In most cases where I'm first author, I designed the study, supervised its implementation (e.g., data collection, data analysis, etc.), and interpreted the findings. Science is always a team effort, and in every case my co-authors played important roles too.
Papers with colleagues as first authors were chosen (from a larger number) because I helped to design the studies and/or interpret the findings, not just write the paper, and because I believe the topics and findings are important.
For each publication, you can click on its title for a description and click on the link to download the PDF, go to the online version, or view it on Amazon.
Brain Imaging Studies of PTSD
Neural correlates of reexperiencing, avoidance, and dissociation in PTSD: Symptom dimensions and emotion dysregulation in responses to script-driven trauma imagery.
J Trauma Stress 2007; 22:713-725
This paper's introduction and discussion sections address the complexity of subjective and brain processes involved in responses to trauma reminders. Thus they may be interesting and useful to people trying to understand the biological dimensions of PTSD and child abuse effects.
Individual differences in a husband and wife who developed PTSD after a motor vehicle accident: A functional MRI case study.
Am J Psychiat 2003; 160:667-669
This short paper demonstrates that people can have very different responses, including brain responses, to the same traumatic event. The findings also suggest that the functional significance of a response, and of a person's symptoms, rather than any particular diagnosis the person can be given, are keys to understanding the brain processes involved.
Recall of emotional states in posttraumatic stress disorder: An fMRI investigation
Biol Psychiatry 2003; 53:204-210
The findings reported here suggest a major limitation of biological models of PTSD that focus exclusively on fear and leave out the full range of human emotional experiences and processes that may be altered.
Reexperiencing/Hyperaroused and Dissociative States in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Psychiatric Times, Vol. 25, No. 13
This brief overview paper for psychiatrists and other clinicians was 'invited' by editors of Psychiatric Times, but not peer reviewed. It includes suggested resources for working with clients who suffer from PTSD and dissociation.
Responses to Script-Driven Imagery Scale (RSDI)
The Responses to Script-Driven Imagery Scale (RSDI): Assessment of state posttraumatic symptoms for psychobiological and treatment research
J Psychopathol Behav Assess 2007; 20:713-725
This paper introduces a scale that I developed primarily for research applications. However, parts of the introduction and discussion may be interesting and useful to non-researchers too, because they address the complexity of responses to strong trauma reminders in PTSD, and the limitations of traditional (structured interview) methods for assessing the effectiveness of treatments for PTSD.
'Reward Function' in PTSD
Probing reward function in posttraumatic stress disorder: Expectancy and satisfaction with monetary gains and losses
J Psychiatry Res 2008; 42:802-807
This study (like other work by my colleague Igor Elman) suggests that PTSD can involve impairment of the brain's 'reward circuitry.' This circuitry includes the circuitries of seeking and satisfaction (see The Brain) and underlies our capacities to want, expect, seek and enjoy potentially rewarding experiences. Impairments of this circuitry's functioning may partly account for 'emotional numbing' and depression symptoms of traumatized people.
Retrieving, assessing, and classifying traumatic memories: A preliminary report on three case studies of a new standardized method
J Aggression, Maltreatment, Trauma 2001; 4:33-71
In this paper we review research methods for retrieving and assessing the characteristics of traumatic memories, discuss their limitations, and introduce a method that employs a standardized approach long used in research on the biology of PTSD (i.e., script-driven imagery). We then present three case examples to illustrate the benefits of this method. Even for non-researchers this paper will clarify some important things about how memories are retrieved differently in different situations, and about their potential changes over time.
Exploring the nature of traumatic memory: Combining clinical knowledge with laboratory methods
J Aggression, Maltreatment, Trauma 2001; 4:9-31
In this paper we begin by reviewing key historical and scientific issues, including why – for ethical reasons, not scientific ones – researchers cannot study traumatic memories that have been created in the laboratory. We then explore the implications of this fact, summarize a study of memories of a unique traumatized sample (people who woke up during surgery), and suggest a way forward in which clinical knowledge can be combined with laboratory methods to further the science of traumatic memory.
Parasympathetic Branch of the Autonomic Nervous System in PTSD
Preliminary evidence for parasympathetic influence on basal heart rate in posttraumatic stress disorder
J Psychosom Res 2006; 60:83-90
With this study I presented evidence that PTSD is associated with altered functioning of the parasymapthetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, not just the sympathetic branch that had long been the focus of researchers. As we concluded in the abstract, "These findings suggest that a substantial proportion of those with PTSD may not have elevated basal HRs. Furthermore, among those who do exhibit elevated HR, there may be a parasympathetic contribution that is independent of any sympathetic one."
Low respiratory sinus arrhythmia and prolonged psychophysiological arousal in PTSD: Heart rate dynamics and individual differences in arousal regulation
Biol Psychiatry 2004; 55:284-290
This study, with my German colleague Martin Sack, was the first to find decreased parasympathetic activity in physiological responses to a trauma reminder in people with PTSD. We also found an association between low resting parasympathetic activity and sustained physiological arousal in response to the trauma reminder. In short, we found that decreased parasympathetic activity, not just increased sympathetic activity, may account for the dysregulations of arousal and emotion commonly observed in PTSD.
Child Abuse and Perpetration of Violence in Males
Factors in the cycle of violence: Gender rigidity and emotional constriction
J Trauma Stress 1996; 9:721-743
Why do some abused boys but not others go on to perpetrate violence against others? In this study we found, as stated in the abstract, "most perpetrators were abused, but most abused men did not perpetrate. Both sexually and physically abused men who perpetrated manifested significantly more gender rigidity and emotional constriction than abused nonperpetrators. Men who reported abuse but not perpetration demonstrated significantly less gender rigidity, less homophobia, and less emotional constriction than nonabused men."
Ecological Momentary Assessment (aka Experience Sampling) in Substance Abuse Research
Incidence and patterns of polydrug use and craving for ecstasy in regular ecstasy users: An ecological momentary assessment study
Drug Alcohol Depend 2006; 85:221-235
Among policy makers and researchers, there have been tendencies to assume the worst about patterns of intoxicating and illegal drug use. With respect to MDMA or 'escstasy,' many have believed and claimed that use of MDMA is associated with indiscriminate use of other drugs at the same time. For this study we collected data on drug use in real time, via 'experience sampling.' We found that "Use of ecstasy on a particular night may not be associated with any greater likelihood of using any other intoxicating drug, and use of other drugs on nights involving ecstasy use may simply reflect a 'natural history' of drug-use nights that begins with alcohol, progresses to more intoxicating drugs, and ends with little drug use."
Contemplative Methods in Trauma Treatment
Mindfulness-oriented interventions for trauma: Integrating contemplative methods
NY: Guilford Press, 2015
Grounded in research and clinical wisdom, this book covers a range of ways to integrate contemplative practices into trauma treatment. Like my co-editors, I invited and edited several of the 22 chapters, and wrote two of them (see below). There are chapters on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and lovingkindness meditation for veterans, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Internal Family Systems (IFS), Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TSY) and other approaches that have contemplative aspects.
Harnessing the seeking, satisfaction and embodiment circuitries in contemplative approaches to healing trauma
NY: Guilford Press, 2015
This chapter offers an understanding of some key brain and psychological processes involved in trauma, in suffering and healing, and in potentially transformative contemplative practices – especially those for cultivating mindfulness, kindness, compassion, and love. The framework I share draws on knowledge from many scientific, clinical and contemplative traditions, and is a way of understanding human suffering, healing and happiness in terms of four key brain circuitries, and in terms of cycles of suffering and cycles of healing involving particular relationships among those circuitries. It can help clinicians to understand – and to help their clients understand – posttraumatic symptoms and suffering, including addictions and the emotion regulation problems of complex trauma. It also explains potential pathways to healing, including how therapeutic interventions and contemplative practices can harness key brain circuitries to bring healing and happiness.
Intensive Vipassana meditation practice: An intervention with promise for traumatized prisoners.
NY: Guilford Press, 2015
This chapter, co-authored with my colleague Jenny Phillips, presents an approach to healing traumatized prisoners that is new to prison-based trauma intervention but over 2,000 years old: an intensive, 10-day Vipassana meditation course that, since 2002, has been conducted inside a maximum-security prison in Alabama. We make the case that intensive, traditional and communal Vipassana practice makes good sense and holds great promise as a short-term prison-based trauma treatment – one that can provide stabilization, skills development, and safe and effective opportunities to process traumatic memories.
A note on what 'peer-reviewed' means: A manuscript was submitted to the editors of a specific journal, who then sent it to anonymous reviewers, who, along with the editors, provided feedback and suggestions (or demands) for specific changes. Those requested changes were incorporated into the final published version or otherwise addressed (e.g., shown by the authors, to the editors' satisfaction, to be unwarranted or otherwise unnecessary). This peer review process can ensure 'quality control' in the scientific enterprise, although it can also hinder or prevent the publication of ideas and findings that challenge the conventional wisdom (of editors and reviewers).