Playing Tetris might reduce PTSD flashbacks

February 23, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More

Oxford psychologists have recently concluded that playing Tetris might serve to lessen the effects of post traumatic stress disorder.

Playing ‘Tetris’ after traumatic events could reduce the flashbacks experienced in tetrispost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), preliminary research by Oxford University psychologists suggests.

If this early-stage work continues to show promise, it could inform new clinical interventions for use immediately after trauma to prevent or lessen the flashbacks that are the hallmark symptom of PTSD.

[Screenshot by Erich Vieth]

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Category: Entertainment, Psychology Cognition

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. seek says:

    This could be promising research, though I have reservations about their methodology. By working *only* with healthy persons to begin with, how much will we actually learn about PTSD? They seem to be defining flashbacks as merely intrusive thoughts, or memories: 'We have shown that in healthy volunteers, playing ‘Tetris’ in this time window can reduce flashback-type memories'.

    In the ER where I work, people with PTSD describe their flashbacks as re-experiencing or re-living, not merely remembering. Witnessing the murder of someone you love or surviving a hurricane might produce these experiences, but I doubt they can be manufactured by making healthy people view the same crappy driving safety videos we all had to watch in high school.

  2. Those of us who are survivors think this is a ridiculous study. Here are some of the reasons why:

    We are having trouble believing in the promise of this ‘cognitive vaccine’ (as some are already calling this theory). It is one thing to watch a disturbing movie, and quite another to BE the lead role in that movie.

    We’re not sure this experiment takes into account the extreme subconscious imprinting that goes on when one experiences trauma. Those safe, secure participants watching the film did not experience the terrifying psychological or somatic effects of being violated, rendered powerless or feeling life-threatened. If they were not part of the study, or not encouraged to document their thoughts about the movies for the following week, would these participants have even had thoughts about the movie in the days afterward?

    We don’t feel this Tetris study comes close enough to appropriating the traumatic experience for its findings to be relevant. If you do not experience even the smallest life-threatening or powerless feeling, your response cannot matter in the realm of our fact or healing.

    It IS possible to heal PTSD. It comes from hard internal work, therapy, patience and a deep belief in the wholeness of the splintered self — not from playing a game which many of us do not have access to in the few hours following our traumas.

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