Mental Health Research

Since 2009 I have been studying psychology and researching mental health. This page sets out some of my recent work, including the psychological effects of heart attacks in young patients, and studies on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which I have researched in depth since I spent time working in conflict zones and trying to understand how people cope with trauma. You can also find a full list of my publications below - please email to request any of these from me.


Heart attacks

As part of my doctoral thesis I interviewed young men between 30-45 years old who had experienced a recent heart attack. The results give some insight into the challenges faced by young people undergoing a major health event that brings them face to face with their own mortality for the first time.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

I became interested in trauma and PTSD after working in conflict zones like Iraq and Gaza. But I soon learned that the condition goes well beyond military experience or combat violence. PTSD can result from all manner of traumatic experiences that could happen to anyone, anytime. My research looks at how the general public understands PTSD, and what happens when people with PTSD return to the scene of a traumatic event. I have also worked extensively in the NHS with trauma patients who have experienced everything from car accidents to surviving murder attempts.

 Photo: Andy Day ( )

Photo: Andy Day (


Why do some people take unimaginable risks with money, safety or health, while others sit at home terrified of courting even the slightest danger? I looked at risk-taking in the context of personality traits with extreme sport practitioners to find some answers. My research through Parkour Generations led to some new findings about calculated versus reckless risk-taking.


Peer-reviewed publications:

Merritt, C., De Zoysa, N., & Hutton, J. (2017). Younger men’s experience of heart attack (myocardial infarction). British Journal of Health Psychology. Early view e-print.

Lee, C., Furnham, A., & Merritt, C. (2017). Effect of directness of exposure and trauma type on Mental Health Literacy of PTSD. Journal of Mental Health, 26, 257-263.

Murray, H., Merritt, C., & Grey, N. (2016). Clients’ experiences of returning to the trauma site during PTSD treatment: an exploratory study. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 44, 420-430.

Murray, H., Merritt, C., & Grey, N. (2015). Returning to the scene of the trauma in PTSD treatment – why, how and when? The Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, 8, e28.

Merritt, C., Tharp, I., & Furnham, A. (2014). Trauma type affects recognition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among online respondents in the UK and Ireland. Journal of Affective Disorders, 164, 123-129.

Merritt, C., & Tharp, I. (2013). Personality, risk taking and self-efficacy in parkour (free-running). Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 14, 608-611.

Merritt, C. (2012). The empathising-systemising (E-S) model of autism and psychoanalytic theories of truth, play and symbolisation. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 26, 327-337.