The Emotional Impact of Trauma

Don’t miss the free event at the Royal Armouries on Friday January 25th from 6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. called ‘The Emotional Impact of Trauma’, which ‘offers the opportunity to learn more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how it can affect those who suffer from it.’ There’ll be talks from James Allen, whose photographs are currently showing as part of the ‘A War Within’ exhibition (see more below); Peter Carruthers, who describes the vision for his film ‘Fallout’, and Simon Buckden, a PTSD sufferer. You’ll also have the chance to see the ‘A War Within’, and ‘Fallout’.

The ‘War Within’ exhibition was launched in October, as part of the Love Arts Leeds Festival, and finishes on 8 February 2013. It’s billed as suitable for:everyone, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. I attended the launch, so here are some images to whet your appetite.

A War Within is really worth a look. Photojournalist James Arthur Allen interviewed a whole range of people, many soldiers, but also people who have suffered childhood trauma, or domestic violence. It sounds as if it might be overwhelmingly heavy, and it is hard to read about what people have been through, and see the effect it’s had. But it’s also very moving, and in the end uplifting to see and read about how people have struggled to heal, and to continue to live – to see images of, for instance Martin, haunted by memories of his time in Iraq, with the medals he’d unsuccessfully tried to sell on e-bay, or hear about Simon’s experiences on active duty in Bosnia.

The exhibition is human size – there are only about 40 images, with a little text with each one to give context. There are recordings of several people talking you can listen to on headphones, which adds another dimension. There’s also a brilliant cartoon from Fettle Animation depicting the effect of returning from war, needing and finding help for Post Traumatic Stress.

The ‘official’ release about this exhibition says ‘A War Within raises awareness of mental health difficulties, such as depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), experienced by veterans and the wider Armed Forces’ community.

With recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mental health of veterans has not been far from the political agenda, attracting widespread media interest and scrutiny. As serving personnel leave the Armed Forces, the responsibility for healthcare is transferred to the NHS.

A War Within is a photographic exhibition exploring the effects of war from the perspective of its subjects – giving them a voice and educating the viewer.

James Arthur Allen is a UK-based freelance photojournalist, who graduated from University College Falmouth in 2012 with a First Class Honours degree in Press and Editorial Photography. He has also undertaken hostile-environment training in preparation for his career as a photojournalist.

The exhibition is a unique partnership with the Love Arts Leeds Festival, and Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Vulnerable Veterans and Adult Dependants’ Service.

Visitor Feedback
“Using art to look at these issues opens a lot of minds…”

“Very well organised, superb exhibition, well done”

“Great partnership work makes Royal Armouries relevant to current issues”

“Didn’t realise how wide reaching PTSD was before seeing this exhibition”

“Really good exhibition, very good way of getting people to talk about a relevant topic”

“I really enjoyed the speeches and found the photo’s really powerful, thank you”

“Fantastic idea and concept, would love to see more”

“Really innovative, great collaborations, genuinely inspiring”

“Brilliant photography from James, welcoming atmosphere – warm reception. Inspiring and intimate talks from everyone involved. Great exhibition.

5 thoughts on “The Emotional Impact of Trauma

  1. Really interesting Terry. I saw the exhibition ‘A War Within’ at the Armouries with my brother some time ago. It was really powerful and I was interested to see the civilian PTSD photographs mixed in with the Veteran photography. I get a little bit confused about what PTSD is and if there is a spectrum as with many disorders. I’d like to know more.


    • Interesting topic, I too know little about the symptoms that get bunched together and labelled Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, looking at the NHS and MIND related websites, I find it hard to differentiate between the symptoms I experience or those of friends with differing labels, treatment appears to be similar, medication and therapy. Having experienced first hand the emotional trauma caused to and by those returning from combat situations, I fear the exhibition may be too distressing for me.


  2. Just watched the video – I hadn’t in my previous comment (oops). Really good speakers. I really like the way Simon Buckden validates others that suffer with PTSD as well as those who have acquired it through combat.


  3. Thanks for the comments Vicky. I was interested in the mixture of civilian and military too, Some of the civilian stories were among the most moving, I thought. The cartoon is utterly brilliant – I thought they might not like it if I put the whole thing up, but I was tempted! Fettle animation rock! I was pleased to get Tony’s interview edited at last. I buttonholed the poor chap in a corner – nearly fell off my stool when he gave me his card at the end and I realised he was a Colonel. It was good to be at the launch, and I hope a lot of people go see the exhibition before it closes, Terry


    • Well done for getting the film edited, it shows an interesting mix of technical and reporting skills. Photo journalism clearly requires a level of detachment from the subject, trauma arises out of many areas of injustice, about which we can do little, but by discussion
      and publicity we can help keep such issues current.


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