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New research by leading UL academic radically rethinks psychological trauma



UL academic research radically rethinks psychological trauma. UL academic, Orla Muldoon publishes a major new book on psychological trauma. Picture: Alan Place

New research by a leading academic at UL has radically re-examined what we know about psychological trauma

New research by a leading academic at UL has radically re-examined what we know about psychological trauma
UL Stay Curious, Orla Muldoon. Picture: Alan Place

The publication of a major new book on psychological trauma by University of Limerick Professor Orla Muldoon details evidence that traumatic experiences can, under certain conditions, impact people’s political positions and appetite for social change.

Professor Muldoon, founding professor at the Department of Psychology and Director for the Centre for Social Issues Research at UL, was awarded almost €2.5m in European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant funding to study trauma.

The resulting book, The Social Psychology of Trauma: Connecting the Personal and the Political, will change thinking about trauma, offering a powerful and radical rethink of how stress, trauma and politics become intertwined.



Professor Muldoon’s research reveals trauma as a socially situated phenomenon linked to power and privilege or disempowerment and disadvantage.

“Doing research on the impact of traumatic experiences can be both heartening and heart-rending. You encounter people and situations that would touch the hardest of hearts and others who inspire with their tenacity and strength to go on. Even in a privileged Western nation such as Ireland, I don’t have to look hard to find stories of stress and trauma. Crisis and catastrophe happen with remarkable regularity.

“One thing that remains poorly understood is the attributes that help or hinder people when they meet misfortune. This book attempts to unravel the social and political processes that seem to matter in how people cope with adversity,” said Professor Muldoon.

This book is intentionally written to be accessible to victims and survivors of trauma, their families, those supporting them as well as practitioners, students, and academics.

It intertwines Professor Muldoon’s personal experiences of trauma to reveal how social and identity factors affect the experience and aftermath of trauma.

The book is accessible on another level too. In line with the ERC’s commitment to making its funded research available to the public, the book is also free to download in digital form.  

The book will be launched by Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, at the Royal Irish Academy, Dawson Street, Dublin 2 on Thursday, 23 May.  All are welcome to attend from 5.30pm.

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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.