A Psychobiological Approach to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A Psychobiological Approach to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

You have a degree of choice in the content of your essay but it must relate to one of the topics that we have studied in the fly-in lectures towards the end of the week.

– Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

These are broad questions. You can refine it by making it more specific, perhaps just focussing on a few aspects of the disorders. This is manageable.

I know it sounds obvious but make sure you address the question from a psychobiological perspective – for example you could tackle a question on obesity from the perspective of social psychology or economic affluence – this would not get you any marks!

You can introduce drug treatments into your question as an additional element (or indeed as the whole question). Treatments can tell us about the disorders. For example, if Leptin based drugs can be used to treat obesity then it suggests that Leptin may be implicated in its cause. It is important to relate the material to the question. So, make sure you make the link between treatments and understanding the cause or the mechanisms underlying the disorder (or behaviour).

You can introduce other perspectives into your essay as part of you critical analysis. For example, there is literature suggests that addiction is socio-cultural in origin, this is contrast to the psychobiological explanation – but this discussion must be only one sub-section of your essay and should not contain a detailed description of the non-psychobiological explanation. It should be used as a counter argument and to explain the ‘shortcomings’ of the psychobiological approach.
Do not rely extensively on one source – i.e. a review paper. Review papers give a good lead and an indication of where to look for material. But they are often a little dated
Do not use information from websites that do not contain appropriately ‘peer reviewed’ information. For example, self-help websites for weight loss and obesity have a function but
often they don’t contain information which is reliable.
At masters level currency is the key. You must be looking to include 2014/15/16 references. This does not meant to say that older references are not useful or important, older research does not mean bad research. Ideas change with new evidence the reason for using current material is to show that your essay is the up to date view on the area. Context is key here.
Evaluation and argument- essential. Presenting the material will get you so far. Commenting on and evaluating/critical analysis of the material is what will take your mark into the 60s/70s and beyond.
Structure of Essay
You must have an introduction – this must define the scope of your essay – i.e. the nature of the essay and what you will consider. This is important if you are narrowing down the focus.
Perhaps 4-5 subsections, each of these should deal with a different aspect of the question
Within each subsection you must include;
your argument/point – purpose of the section
referenced evidence
evaluation (can include contrasting evidence)
conclusion – perhaps include suggestions for further research
a lead into the next section
Overall final conclusion – should be no less than 1/2 page – don’t scrimp here. Much better to cut out material from earlier sections than have a short conclusion.

the point of the essay is to identify some biological underpinnings of PTSD so heart rate and so on do not seem relevant as they are consequences of the state in which sufferers find themselves. I usually say that there are 3 aspects to look at: the APA axis; neurotransmitters; morphological/functional alterations of the brain.

I would pick one of these and try to link the biological aspect to the symptoms of PTSD.