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The History of PTSD

By Tricia Andor, Licensed Professional Counselor

I recently stumbled upon a succinct summary of the history of what is now known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. It is as follows:

After the American Civil War, they called it Soldier’s Heart. Veterans of World War I suffered shell shock. In World War II it was battle fatigue. After the Vietnam war, which produced so many sufferers of the condition, it came to be known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. It has recently been realized that traumatic situations having nothing to do with war can precipitate what is essentially the same condition in civilians. Thus, the term post-traumatic stress disorder may be the most appropriate name for this psychiatric disorder.

Having specialized in counseling survivors of abuse – sexual, physical, psychological – I find the term PTSD to be the most accurate, as trauma can be caused both inside and outside of combat situations.

The rest of the article, written by psychiatrist Scott Mendelson, MD, is a response to the recent Fort Hood shooting rampage by Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan. He addresses the question of whether Hasan’s actions could have been caused by what is sometimes referred to as “Secondary PTSD” or “Vicarious PTSD” (he says a definitive “no”). Read the whole article here.