For Tulane University social work professor Charles Figley, a world-renowned trauma expert, this spring marked an important milestone in his research and professional career. He published the comprehensive Encyclopedia of Trauma that can be used by everyone from academia to Main Street.
Social work professor Charles Figley glances through his newly published book entitled Encyclopedia of Trauma — An Interdisciplinary Guide. (Photo by Joseph Halm)
Saying that it was five years in the making, Figley
adds that the 904-page book has a uniquely Tulane favor with many Tulane faculty members on the editorial board.
“It’s the first of its kind,” says Figley, director of the Tulane Traumatology Institute. “It’s called an interdisciplinary guide because all the other books looking at trauma mostly focused on PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or trauma in terms of medical or psychological trauma. This is the first one that has a broad-strokes approach in terms of incorporating history and economics and engineering and medicine and neurology. It covers so many different areas.”
Figley says people who are traumatized have various interests, and most of the current books are written for researchers or other scholars rather than reading that is easy to pick up. He credited SAGE Publications for helping guide the book’s interdisciplinary approach.
“The people who are picking it up are struggling with trauma and are trying to figure it out themselves,” he says. “If they can recognize that Beethoven was traumatized and yet he created great works of music, that’s important. It’s really written for the consumer.”
Although Figley is named as the book’s editor, he credits its creation to his wife, Kathy Figley, who helped coordinate the various writers and topics that cover a wide range of issues.
As for his inspiration for the encyclopedia, Figley says he felt that other books just missed the mark in truly examining the issues of trauma in a way that the everyday person could understand.
“As a practitioner as well as scholar, I remember having average people come up to me and ask if I could sort of boil it down and explain it so that they could understand it. I think this book can be used by anyone trying to understand trauma.”
Joseph Halm is marketing/communications coordinator for the Tulane School of Social Work.