6,900,000 pageviews

Monday, February 21, 2022

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

     The post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a fairly recent entry in psychiatric terminology; in fact, it was only officially recognized with the publication of the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders in 1980, known as DSM-III. In World Wars I and II, there had been what was known to laymen as "shell shock" and to mental health professions as "combat neurosis," a battlefield condition in which men become too traumatized to function properly. A fairly large proportion of discharges from the army were due to this condition, and the problem remains a serious one for all those who participate in combat, with its attendant horrors and stresses.

     During the 1950s when DSM-I was published, there was a condition referred to as "transient situational disorder," which was sometimes used to encompass battlefield stress. It was the initials TSD that were lifted from this previous neurosis and made to fit a condition that seemed to have sprung up in American survivors of the war in Vietnam, and which became known as PTSD--or, in layman's terms, "the Vietnam syndrome."

     I had discovered, over the years, that while there were people who really did suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder--had difficulty in living normal lives after returning from the brink of death experienced either in war or as a result of some other traumatic event--many other claims of PTSD were just a lot of poppycock, a form of malingering. The diagnosis of PTSD had become fashionable in certain psychiatric circles, mainly those that dealt with people in and out of veterans' hospitals. Other psychiatrists, just as well qualified, who also dealt with veterans had not seen many genuine cases. Also, the United States had been involved in several traumatic wars earlier in this century, and while there had been a few diagnosed cases of what was then called battlefield shock, most of the people who did experience these sort of shocks recovered and went on to lead normal lives. Could the experience of fighting in Vietnam have been worse than the experience of fighting in Korea? Or in Europe or the Pacific Islands during World War II? Were American servicemen of the 1960s and 1970s so much more emotionally fragile that those who served in earlier conflicts?

Robert K. Ressler and Tom Schachtman, I Have Lived in the Monster, 1997    

No comments:

Post a Comment