Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and 9/11
The September 11th Trauma
The events of 9-11-01 have caused great consternation, confusion, grief, and
sadness throughout our nation. It is probably still too soon to estimate the
damage to the nation's collective psyche (functioning mind). In fact, it is
possible that symptoms suggesting posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will yet
occur in many people across the nation, even miles from the actual physical
traumatic events. Of course, the people directly affected by the actual
tragedies have had and will still be expected to have a variety of responses to
this posttraumatic stress.
In the wake of the September 11th
tragedies, the main questions regarding PTSD are:
- What is the difference between normal grief and the pathological (abnormal) PTSD illness? (Freud talked about
this in Mourning and Melancholia)
- What are the transient (temporary) posttraumatic stress symptoms that anyone would be expected to experience?
- At what point in the duration of
symptoms would some treatment make sense?
- Are there ways to prevent the
development of the pathological PTSD illness?
Table of Contents
Defining posttraumatic stress disorder
PTSD, as such, has been a part of organized psychiatry for only the past
twenty years. The concept of PTSD, however, has been well known for over a
hundred years under a variety of different names. Certainly, Freud thought that
traumatic events in childhood had an effect on an individual's subsequent
emotional development. Actually, however, it was his contemporary, Pierre Janet,
who wrote most brilliantly and eloquently on traumatic stress. In fact, he was
really the first person to describe the full syndrome (group of symptoms) of
posttraumatic stress disorder.