When the force is that of nature, we speak of disasters. When the force is that of other human beings, we speak of atrocities. Traumatic events overwhelm the ordinary systems of care that give people a sense of control, connection, and meaning.” (a)
What is post traumatic stress disorder?
Harvard Women’s Health Watch (August 1995) provides a clear clinical explanation of the symptoms of PTSD.
Traumatic experience. One must undergo a life-threatening event, sustain serious injury, or witness the death or serious injury of others. The experience should be
accompanied by a sense of helplessness and/or horror.
Reexperience. The event is persistently relived in one of the following ways:
- Recurrent images, thoughts, or perceptions
- Distressing dreams
- Flashbacks–the sense that the event is happening again
- Intense distress at cues that symbolize the event
Avoidance. An emotional “numbing” that is characterized by at least three of the following:
- Avoidance of thoughts, feelings, or conversations about things associated with the traumatic event
- Inability to remember some aspect of the event
- Little interest in formerly important activities
- Feeling cut off from others
- Restricted emotional range
- A sense of having a limited future–no anticipation of a career, children, or normal life span
Increased Arousal that was not present before trauma, as indicated by at least two of the following:
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hyper vigilance (being unusually alert)
- Being easily startled
Duration of symptoms of at least one month. The symptoms must interfere with daily life.
(a) From Trauma and Recovery: The aftermath of violence – from domestic abuse to political terror, by Judith Herman, MD