What is PTSD?
Over the 25 years since the acceptance of the PTSD diagnosis in the formal psychiatric nomenclature, there has been a veritable explosion of studies on the effects of trauma on individuals and communities. The recognition of PTSD fostered the emergence of a large group of basic and clinical researchers who could devote their professional lives to the study and treatment of psychological trauma. Presently, there exists at least one journal devoted exclusively to the study of psychological trauma: the Journal of Traumatic Stress. Another, the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, is devoted to specialized issues regarding those topics; a number of other peer-reviewed journals, including Child Abuse and Neglect and Developmental Psychopathology, focus exclusively on traumatized children. Particularly in the area of childhood trauma, important efforts have been made to integrate the research on failures in early parental attachment patterns with the impact of specific traumatic events. Starting in 1985, a variety of professional organizations focused on the study of the effects of trauma on children and adults were founded in the United States, Europe, Australia, Israel, Japan, and Argentina. In the United States, the National Institutes of Mental Health founded a Violence and Traumatic Stress branch, the U.S. Veterans Administration founded the National Center for PTSD, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Since 1980, significant advances have been made in understanding the epidemiology of PTSD, and the issues of vulnerability, course, and phenomenology. Many of these advances are highlighted in this book, but three of the most significant advances concern (1) understanding of the impact of trauma on a variety of developmental competencies through the life cycle (Putnam, 1995; Pynoos, Steinberg, Ornitz, & Goenjian, 1998; van der Kolk et al., 2005a, 2005b), (2) elucidation of the several of the underlying neurobiological processes of trauma (Friedman, Charney, & Deutch, 1995; Yehuda & McFarlane, 1997), and (3) systematic exploration of treatment outcome in various trauma populations (Foa, Keane, & Friedman, 2000). These lines of research have intersected, representing a true biopsychosocial approach to the study of trauma. Source: Ch. 2: The History of Trauma in Psychiatry by Bessel A. van der Kolk in Handbook of PTSD : Science and practice - edited by Matthew J. Friedman, Terence M. Keane, Patricia A. Resick.