Fund winner wages war on post-traumatic stress disorder using power of poetry

Posted on 26 September 2011

Photo (left to right): Dr Nick Potter; scholarship winner Christine Steward; and David Warner, SMU's Vice Chancellor

The University of Wales has awarded a graduate of Swansea Metropolitan University a PhD scholarship to help fund her unique research into treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Christine Steward of Swansea fought off stiff competition to become this year’s recipient of the University of Wales Llewelyn Williams Post Graduate Studentship. The fund will enable Christine to progress with her research at Swansea University’s College of Medicine where she will embark on a PhD.

Her research is centred on developing self-help coping mechanisms for sufferers of PTSD, using literary techniques found in poetry. The idea came to Christine when she was analysing the work of the First World War poet Robert Graves, who used narrative to conjure a literary world which helped him deal with the trauma of trench life horrors. Closer investigation of Graves’ works uncovered psychological tools hidden in his writing which he used support his mental health on a day-to-day basis.

Using the same method employed to dissect Graves’ work, Christine has developed a system of literary analysis with which to detect psychological support tools used in the works of other writers. Her PhD research will expand upon the idea of using literary techniques in resisting PTSD by exploring the possibility of creating a therapeutic writing package where trauma sufferers can try to harness some of these techniques themselves.

Speaking of her award, Christine said:

“I am delighted to have been enabled to pursue my dream and theory, designed to try and help PTSD sufferers. These scholarships have enabled me to give something back to Welsh society after having had an excellent state and university education, both in my local school and university.

“I would encourage other local graduates, who may have ideas to help community growth and development to research, to apply for a scholarship such as this, because there are a lot of talented University of Wales graduates out there who could also develop concepts that can help others have better quality of life.”

As well as being a fulltime student, Christine is a trained Samaritan listener. She aims to develop her theory into a support package that can be put to use alongside existing community based rehabilitation programmes.

The scholarship is provided from the income of the Llewelyn Williams Trust Fund which was raised by friends, mainly in the legal profession, of the late W Llewelyn Williams KC MP (1867-1922) to perpetuate his memory.


Notes to Editors:

For confidential emotional support, contact the Samaritans helpline on 01792 655 999 or email

For more information about the University of Wales Scholarships, click on:
For more information on The University of Wales please visit:

Search News

Select Category

Related Articles