‘The words are stuck inside me; I write to heal’: Memory, recall, and repetition in PTSD blogs


  • Vaidehi Ramanathan University of California, Davis




blogging, psychology, PTSD, recall, repetition, trauma


This paper addresses issues around the automatic repetition of particular memories in the narratives / blog accounts of individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Based on a long-term project that examines how people with various bodyrelated conditions and ailments write or speak about their bodies, the focus of this paper is on 80 blog accounts wherein individuals with PTSD write both about living with the condition and about their steps towards healing themselves. The paper pays special attention to how the act of repeated blogging counters the paralyzing repetition in their heads, leading them to re-cognize particular distressing life-events and thus creating alternate episodic structures (Gee 1992). In particular, the article addresses: What insights about repetition and memory are we able to glean from PTSD pathographies, and in what ways does current scholarship in narrative analysis, applied sociolinguistics, and psychology permit a more complex understanding of the condition?

Author Biography

Vaidehi Ramanathan, University of California, Davis

Vaidehi Ramanathan is Professor of Applied Sociolinguistics in the Linguistics Department at the University of California, Davis. Her research interests span all domains of literacy, including teacher education, minority languages, and language policies, as well as concerns about aging and health. Her publications include Language, Body and Health (co-edited, Walter de Gruyter, 2011), Bodies and Language: Health, Ailments, Disabilities (Multilingual Matters, 2009), The English–Vernacular Divide: Postcolonial Language Politics and Practice (multilingual matters, 2005), The Politics of TESOL Education: Writing, Knowledge, Critical Pedagogy (RoutledgeFalmer, 2002), and Alzheimer’s Discourse: Some Sociolinguistic Dimensions (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997).


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How to Cite

Ramanathan, V. (2016). ‘The words are stuck inside me; I write to heal’: Memory, recall, and repetition in PTSD blogs. Communication and Medicine, 12(2-3), 257–271. https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.22049