Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
A psychological disorder that develops in response to an extremely traumatic event that threatens a person's safety or life.
Although the term post-traumatic stress disorder is relatively new, the symptoms of PTSD can be recognized in many guises throughout history, from the reactions to the great fire of London that Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) described in the 1600s to the "shell shock" of soldiers in World War I. Some psychologists suspect that the "hysterical" women treated by Josef Breuer (1842-1925) and Sigmund Freud at the turn of the twentieth century may have been suffering from symptoms of PTSD as a result of childhood sexual abuse or battering by their husbands.
Post-traumatic stress disorder has been classified as an anxiety disorder in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders since 1980. People suffering from PTSD repeatedly re-experience the traumatic event vividly in their thoughts, perceptions, images, or dreams. They may be aware that they are recollecting a previous experience, or they may have hallucinations, delusions, or dissociative flashbacks that make them feel as though the trauma is actually recurring in the present. Children may engage in repetitive play that expresses some aspect of the trauma. A related symptom is the...
(The entire section is 943 words.)
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