Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Fiona Reid

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a relatively new diagnosis. PTSD first appeared in the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980 (DSM-III). Commonly regarded as the bible of the APA, DSM-III is an inventory of about two hundred named mental disorders. The initial diagnostic criteria stated that PTSD was promoted by “a recognizable stressor that would evoke significant symptoms of distress in almost anyone”; the 1987 revision (DSM-III-R) insisted that such an event should be “outside the range of usual human experience” and would “be markedly distressing to almost anyone.” DSM-IV (1994) states that “By definition, PTSD always follows a traumatic event which causes intense fear and/or helplessness in an individual.” The symptoms of PTSD include sleeping disorders, concentration difficulties, obsessive thoughts, and flashbacks. Sufferers are often extremely anxious, highly irritable, and easily startled; they tend to re-experience or re-live the original trauma and so have to avoid situations which might provoke traumatic memories. These may all seem like very general descriptors, but the diagnosis of PTSD was the direct result of research into the particular mental health problems of Vietnam War veterans in the United States, and of much political pressure by those veterans and their advocates.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Encyclopedia of War
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011


    • first world war
    • second world war
    • vietnam war
    • history of medicine
    • war neuroses


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