Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Issues and ControversiesBMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7501.1215 (Published 19 May 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1215
- Simon Wessely, director (email@example.com)
- King's Centre for Military Health Research, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London
It is not hard to make psychiatric diagnoses. Ask the questions, elicit the symptoms, open the DSM IV, tick the boxes, and you have it. One set of symptoms means schizophrenia. You don't need to think about the cause, which is fortunate, as we don't know it. Another set of symptoms and a different set of tick boxes, and then this is depression. Again, the label says nothing about the cause, which is also fortunate, as it may have been anything from a long list of psychological, social, or physical hazards.
Another set of tick boxes and the label might be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, this time the label does indeed specify the cause: trauma. Out go the intricacies of psychiatric formulation—the complex interplay of genes, early environment, education, marriage, life events, physical illness, and so on. Here was something simple. The appearance of the new diagnosis of PTSD in 1980 was part of America's attempts to come to terms with …