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Glossary of Terms

Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD)

For Experts

  • Currently a diagnosis in the ICD.
  • Meets all the diagnostic requirements for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, with additional criteria, as specified in the ICD. 
  • The main things that distinguish C-PTSD from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are the protracted nature of the potentially psychologically traumatic event (e.g., exposure to a concentration camp), the subsequent distortions of the person’s sense of self and core personal and social identity, and significant emotional dysregulation. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is more typically associated with a discrete traumatic event or set of traumatic events. 
  • Described by Judith Herman (1992, 1995, 2015).

For General Public

  • Currently a diagnosis in the ICD.
  • A type of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder that results from repeated severe traumatic events that the person cannot escape usually as a result of adverse childhood experiences. 
  • People with the condition have a profound loss of sense of identity and great difficulty controlling their emotions.

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