Quote of the Day


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Why is it a Disorder?

This is an excerpt from a conversation I am having with a student about his research paper on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  What do you think?

Also, and I am just thinking out loud here, why is this a disorder?  My children (adopted from a Siberian orphanage) both carry PTSD diagnosis.  Really bad things happened to them.  Their brains responded to the stress by changing and my childrens' lives will be forever impacted by it and not in a good way.  I get that.  But why is it a disorder?  The brain behaved in a perfectly normal way.  Doesn't the word disorder mean that something is not working as it should? But in my opinion, if a person goes through trauma and is not impacted by it they have the disorder.  I guess I'd like it to be called Post-Traumatic Stress Normal Response.  Yes there is still the nightmares and the cold sweats on a trauma triggers and the weird immune system.  I guess I think that this is normal. 

Put another way, if you expose your skin to flame you get a wound, and later a scar.  If your brain is exposed to trauma it gets a wound and later a scar.  The scar is real, certainly.  And it is bad news, no doubt.  But is it a disorder?  I get fussy because it seems to me that there is a slight implication that my children -- and servicemen and women -- are not handling the stress appropriately, that their Post Traumatic Stress management is malfunctioning (disorder), yet I would say that my children are perfectly normal.  ANY child exposed to this would have some freaky after-effects.  Their Post Traumatic Stress management is spot-on, just as the scar tissue is over a burn.  Service-people that come home altered are showing their scars.  Acknowledge the scars, nuture the person, but don't tell me they are disordered.


Jody Engels said...

Scar tissue does not respond like the original tissue; hence the dis in the order.

Suzanne said...

Good point. But aren't scars' different responses normal for scars?

Maria said...

For some service members though, the stress response impacts their lives in extremely negative ways, and the only way for them to get help in the military is for it to have a medical name/condition.

Jody Engels said...

Yes, normal for scars.

Anonymous said...

If you started smoking a pack a day and came down with lung cancer a few years later, that's pretty normal. It's still a disease.

If you went to Afghanistan to fight, and now you can't stand the 4th of July fireworks, that's pretty normal. It's still a disorder.

Suzanne said...

Okay, these are good points. Thanks. I think I have TMDD (Too Many Diagnoses Disorder): a normal, but unsettling response to professionals glibly applying acronyms to my darling, albeit baggage-laden, children.