Uncontrollability and Unpredictability in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: An Animal Model

Edna B. Foa*, Richard Zinbarg, Barbara Olasov Rothbaum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

574 Scopus citations


The disturbances observed in animals subjected to unpredictable and uncontrollable aversive events resemble post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and thus may constitute an animal model of this disorder. It is argued that the similarity between animals' symptoms and those of trauma victims may reflect common etiological factors. Relevant experiments in which animals exhibit generalized fear and arousal, discrete fear of a conditioned stimulus (CS), analgesia, and avoidance are reviewed with the view that these manifestations may be analogous to the PTSD symptom clusters of persistent arousal, reexperiencing, numbing, and avoidance, respectively. Finally, animal paradigms are suggested to test the validity of the model and specific hypotheses are derived from the animal literature regarding trauma variables that are predictive of particular PTSD symptom clusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-238
Number of pages21
JournalPsychological bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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