Mervin Smucker. PTSD AS AN EFFECT OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE

Diagnostic Criteria and Symptom Picture
Posttraumatic stress disorder refers to specific psychological reactions which may occur as a result of disaster, combat, interpersonal violence, or other forms of extreme psychological stress. As defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM IV, 1994), a combination of features from four core criteria comprise the PTSD syndrome: (a) exposure to a traumatic event; (b) subsequent reexperiencing of the trauma in the form of recurrent and intrusive recollections, dreams, flashbacks, or heightened physiological reactivity; (c) emotional numbing or persistent avoidance of stimuli reminiscent of the event; and (d) symptoms of increased arousal such as hypervigilance, irritability, exaggerated startle response, and sleep disturbance. Without exception, each of the above symptoms has been reported in the literature as a long-term effect of childhood sexual abuse (Briere, 1989). This evidence strongly suggests that PTSD is part of the clinical picture presented by adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Mervin Smucker