Complex PTSD

From Pluralpedia, the collaborative plurality dictionary
complex ptsd (n.)
SynonymsC-PTSD; cPTSD; Complex Trauma Disorder; DESNOS; Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified
Applies tosystems
CoinerProposed by Judith Herman
OriginPsychiatric term

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a kind of PTSD caused by repeated traumas over a longer period of time. It usually also involves a change in perception and thinking. All C-PTSD is PTSD, but not all PTSD is C-PTSD, and symptoms specific to C-PTSD include:

  • Dissociation and change in consciousness (including depersonalization and derealization)
  • Emotional regulation issues; uncontrollable outbursts of anger, for example
  • Negative self-perception accompanied by ongoing shame and guilt, sometimes to the point of not feeling like anyone else
  • Unstable relationships with others, like avoiding others, distrusting everyone by default, etc.
  • Harmful behaviors like drug abuse or self-harm

C-PTSD is more common in cases where the trauma occurs in childhood, involving a trusted adult or peer, happens over and over again, and escape was perceived as impossible. It does not directly correlate with the "severity" of trauma.

History[edit | edit source]

Judith Herman first introduced the concept of Complex PTSD in her book Trauma and Recovery in 1992. She distinguished between "Type I Traumas" (short term, like sexual assault or a mugging) leading to PTSD, and "Type II Traumas" (long term, like childhood neglect) leading to C-PTSD.

The distinction has not been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, and thus, the last two editions of the DSM have not included C-PTSD as a separate diagnosis.

However, other influential organizations, including the World Health Organization's ICD-11, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Healthdirect Australia, and the NHS have all recognized C-PTSD as a separate but related disorder to PTSD.

Related Terms[edit | edit source]

Complex PTSD is common amongst traumagenic systems, including DID and in OSDD-1 & -2. Specific symptoms listed above may be held by specific headmates, like a dissonaut holding dissociation symptoms, or a trauma breaker to help the system handle negative past experiences.