The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Psychological trauma

Psychological trauma may accompany physical trauma, or exist independently. Typical causes of psychological trauma are abuse, violence, the threat of either, or the witnessing of either, particularly in childhood. Natural events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions can also cause psychological trauma. Man-made events such as armed conflict also inflict psychological trauma.

In times of war, psychological trauma has been known as shell shock and combat stress reaction (CSR). Psychological trauma may cause acute stress disorder (ASD) which may lead on to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can also develop without an antecedent ASD and may come on months or years after the trauma. Both ASD and PTSD are specific disorders in which the traumatized individual may experience nightmares, avoidance of certain situations and places, depression, and other symptoms. PTSD emerged as the label for this condition after the Vietnam War in which many veterans returned to their respective countries demoralized, and sometimes, addicted to drugs.

Psychological trauma is treated with therapy and, if indicated, psychotropic medications. Recent studies try to show the effect of trauma on human memory.This kind of studies is useful in order to verify the attendibility of eyewitnesses involved in criminal acts.

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Last updated: 08-17-2005 14:29:40
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