Butterworth, Benjamin

Benjamin Butterworth

PhD Researcher
Benjamin graduated from Durham University with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology in 2016, before completing a MRes in Psychology at the University of York in 2017. He is a member of the substance use and misuse research group at GCU and the Scottish Alcohol Research Network, and the Treasurer of the Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group (PsyPAG).. Benjamin’s PhD explores the relationship between post-traumatic alcohol use and traumatic memories, and is supervised by Dr Christopher Hand (GCU), Dr Karen Lorimer (GCU), and Dr Julie Gawrylowicz (Abertay University). People who drink heavily following a traumatic event are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more severe trauma symptoms. Intrusive memories are known to be particularly problematic, as the spontaneous recollection of details from traumatic events causes greater confusion and distress, thereby affecting other trauma symptoms such as hyperarousal and avoidant behaviour. Alcohol intoxication during a traumatic event is known to affect intrusive memory development, but the effect of alcohol intoxication upon memory following traumatic event is unknown. Though post-traumatic alcohol use is very common, particularly among people who drink heavily, little is known about what motivates people to drink following a traumatic event, or how they believe alcohol intoxication will affect their memory. Benjamin’s PhD project employs a mixed-method design to explore this, using laboratory experiments to test the effects of post-traumatic intoxication upon episodic and intrusive memories. Results from this will then be interpreted alongside semi-structured interviews with people who drink heavily and have experienced psychological trauma, exploring their experiences and thoughts on post-traumatic alcohol use and memory. Findings from both arms of the project will help improve our understanding of how post-traumatic intoxication affects memory-based trauma symptoms, and how these symptoms are experienced and influence post-traumatic alcohol use among heavy drinking individuals.