Foreword: “PTSD in the Soviet Union” by Dr. Ruwan M Jayatunge M.D.
PTSD is short for ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder’.
When someone experiences an event which is unexpected and emotionally shattering it may continue to have serious effects on them long after any physical or other danger has passed. Persons with this kind of experience may relive the events that caused them intense fear and horror through flashbacks and nightmares, and they may become emotionally frozen. When they remain in this state for more than a month, their condition receives the medical diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder occurs in children as well as adults. It is a mental health disability that can become so severe that the individual finds leading a normal life difficult or perhaps even impossible. And especially so because it can have such serious consequences, which include suicide and addiction to dangerous substances. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder follows trauma such as serious physical injury especially when the resulting disability is permanent; witnessing people being hurt or killed; experiencing dangerous events; feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear; receiving little or no social or psychological support following the trauma; and dealing with extra stress after experiences such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a career, job or home.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder creates serious challenges for military personnel injured in military service, and for other persons who in the course of their duties, activities and involvements are confronted by violence. Their challenges add to and complicate the challenges for their family caregivers and families.
Dr. Jayatunge graduated from Ukraine’s Vinnitsa National Medical University and then joined the Ministry of Health of the Government of Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka he worked closely with war veterans and civilians affected by war. He studied in considerable depth the impact of war-related post-traumatic stress disorder. He became one of the pioneers in the study of its psychosocial effects in Sri Lanka. He has written several books and published several research articles that recount the war trauma and its consequences in Sri Lanka. Yet despite the cumulated, experience-derived knowledge relating to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, doubts about its reality still persist.
Dr. Jayatunge points out that the Soviet Union, from its foundation with the 1922 October Revolution to its dissolution in 1991, faced internal and external socio-political calamities that generated immense stresses among its population. But, he observes, little is known in the outside world about the psychological trauma experienced by the Soviet People. Which is why his exploration of the grim history of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Soviet Union is an important contribution to scientific and medical knowledge and why his work also provides powerful support for recognizing the troubling reality of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Dr Gordon Atherley M.D. , PhD LLD, Honoris Causa, from Canada’s Simon Fraser University.