Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

The DSM definition notes that a person suffering the disorder either (1) “experienced witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others and (2) the person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.”

Other symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder are re-experiencing the traumatic events in flashbacks or dreams, avoiding stimuli that are associate with trauma, and symptoms of arousal that were not present before the trauma I.e. difficulty sleeping, outbursts of anger, etc.

Up until recently the primary causes recognized of post-traumatic stress disorder were rape, war, terrorist’s attack, and childhood or adult physical, or emotional, or sexual abuse. Some sources report that there are higher percentages of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder than any other wars in American history.

In response to this crisis several treatments have come to the foreground-EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Prolonged Exposure Therapy, etc. Each have had various degrees of success although it could be argued the most appropriate treatment for veterans is EMDR, as its’ first protocols were developed by Doctor Francine Shapiro in 1987 with Vietnam War veterans.

There is still debate as to which treatment is the most effective for posttraumatic stress disorder. I have had minimal with cognitive behavioral therapy. (DSM definition), much greater success with EMDR, and the greatest success with my present method-Cognitive Behavioral Sensory Desensitization. However in addition to this method being as effective as any other it takes far fewer sessions, and there is almost no possibility of emotional upset or abreaction – it can be applied to trauma victims who are not presently recognized by the DSM IV as having experienced trauma. ‘’ The negative effects of multiple mini-traumas (e.g. abuse, neglect) have been well documented and can be treated with the same interventions as those used for traumas. Any negative life event occurring in a state of helplessness e.g. car accident rejection, conflicts associated with cultural or religious discrimination can produce the same neuropsychological effects in the brain as does combat, rape, or natural disasters. What makes a negative life event traumatizing is not the life threatening nature of the event but rather the helplessness it engenders, the meaning ascribed to the event (cognitions) and one’s history of prior trauma, especially unstable attachments.” (CBSD Workshop)

This method of equally effective with the other life threatening phenomena associated with the DSM IV definition of posttraumatic stress disorder such as war, shootings, natural disasters, rape, etc.

To conclude, in 490 B.C.E. Herodotus the Greek historian recorded the first case of posttraumatic stress disorder when an Athenian soldier suffered no injury but was blinded by seeing the death of a fallen soldier. The term itself was coined in the 1970’s. Since then numerous claims to being the best treatment modality for posttraumatic stress disorder have been made. I add Cognitive Behavioral

Sensory Desensitization to the list. For I have seen several cases of adults abused as children resolved usually in 3-12 sessions. This is an important note as some studies show the incidence of posttraumatic stress disorder higher among adults who had been in foster care than the military.