Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Essay

4335 Words Oct 8th, 2013 18 Pages
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been the focus of considerable attention, and some controversy, since it was formally recognised in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association. This essay will discuss the history of this relatively new diagnosis and its place within the DSM-IV-TR, whilst three perspectives of pathological reaction to trauma, namely, socio-cultural, psychological and biological factors will also be compared. In conclusion this essay will discuss how the three perspectives contrast and contribute to our understanding of PTSD.
PTSD is a common anxiety disorder in Australia with a twelve month prevalence of 3.3% (McLennan 1997, p.18), and in its more serious forms, it is a chronic and disabling psychiatric disorder
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However, for the past two centuries PTSD symptoms have been seen across cultures in those exposed to war, terrorism and natural disasters (Gullotta et al. 2005, p. 336). Thus it is evident that PTSD is not culturally or socially limited to only Western society and in fact, one would expect high rates of exposure to trauma and PTSD in individuals from those parts of the world where war, crime, and poverty are more prolific.
In contrast to other diagnosed disorders, PTSD is defined as having been set in motion by an external event. Whereas other psychopathological disorders are currently only diagnosed in terms of symptoms, PTSD often occurs after a particular event within an historical context. Nemiah (1989, p. 1528) believes social and cultural factors draw our attention away from the overly concrete definition of psychological illness as a thing in itself, bringing us back to the person’s experience and the meaning which they assign to it. Scientists studying social factors and the risk for PTSD focus primarily on the nature of the trauma, and the individual’s level of exposure to it, as well as the availability of social support following the trauma (Oltmanns & Emery 2004, p. 238). Social factors that contribute to PTSD may be categorised into those occurring before, during, and after exposure to

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