Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Part III: Health Effects of Interpersonal Violence Among Women

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The aim of this three-part series is to examine the sufficiency of the posttraumatic stress (PTSD) diagnostic construct to capture the full spectrum of human responses to psychological trauma. Part I (Lasiuk & Hegadoren, 2006a) reviewed the conceptual history of PTSD from the nineteenth century to its inclusion in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 1980), while Part II (Lasiuk & Hegadoren, 2006b) described subsequent refinements to the original PTSD diagnostic criteria and highlighted subsequent controversies.


This paper focuses on interpersonal violence (sexual, physical, and emotional abuse/assault) and its sequelae in women. We argue in support of Judith (Herman's 1992) conceptualization of the human trauma response as a spectrum, anchored at one end by an acute stress reaction that resolves on its own without treatment, and on the other by “complex” PTSD, with “classic” or “simple” PTSD somewhere between the two.


The existing theoretical, clinical and research literatures related to humans responses to trauma.


The paper concludes with a call for the need to increase a gendered perspective in all aspects of trauma research and clinical service delivery.

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