Complex PTSD Awareness

This is the best explanation I’ve read of the difference between Complex PTSD and PTSD.

ADD . . . and-so-much-more

C-PTSD Awareness
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Trauma

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Self-Health Series

One of the factors of PTSD is that some people seem to have severe cases while others do not — that some soldiers were more vulnerable to extreme trauma and stress than others.

As an explanation for some of these complications it has been suggested and researched that there is a form of PTSD that is called DESNOS [Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified]. Another term is C-PTSD or Complex-PTSD. ~  Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D

Relatively Recent Distinction & Debate

Many traumatic events that result in PTSD are of time-delimited duration — for example, short term military combat exposure, rape or other violent crimes, earthquakes and other natural disasters, fire, etc.  However, some individuals experience chronic trauma that continues or repeats for months or years at a time.

View original post 3,125 more words

24 thoughts on “Complex PTSD Awareness

  1. Thank you so much for bringing this to the forefront. My therapist and I are coming to the conclusion that I have this. From my readings on the subject and from our therapy sessions with the EMDR.

    I’m happy to have such a wonderful and talented therapist that sees the whole picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment. I consider myself lucky for the same reason. The more familiar I am with the subtleties of C-PTSD the more able I am to understand the limits of understanding. It’s a frustrating, painful, and heartbreaking syndrome.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. SO sorry, Rob – and the confusion is mine. I was responding to the comment about mental health and woman left by katiesdream2004, asking her to share it with my readers – and neglected to leave any identifiers in my request. I was attempting to honor your copyright notice and her privacy rights.

    In some comment sections things work differently: one can reply directly to another comment leaving a clear trail of what was intended; in others you can edit for a moment or two after a comment is published. By the time I saw that my comment needed to be approved, I wondered, but it was too late. Perhaps it was the lateness of the hour, but I decided to hope for the best and go to bed rather than adding a PS. comment. Wrong decision.

    If you can “back door” edit comments, add a “Katie” to the confusing one and delete this exchange if you like. (I’m concerned that spam-bots will grab your email address in your comment above, sending nastiness to your in-box.)
    xx,
    mgh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a very good spam filter…and as for nasty comments: I never approve them but use the truly illogical ones to illustrate how an individual willingness to ignore fact become a political movement that promotes magical thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It kind of helps that my alternates have their own email addresses–one alternate does Flickr and another does Twitter, it’s almost impossible to get that one to stop once he starts.

        It’s like living in a shower with a family of 12.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. lol re: shower (If we don’t laugh we’ll all go insane!) I can’t imagine having to deal with the crowd and getting much of anything else DONE, however.

        I refer to the “committee” in my brain that natters on at me, but it all comes from the same source vs. fully-formed entities.

        Although . . . sure could love an alter who would handle my social media :). So far, Flickr and Twitter are beyond my attention span.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for the reblog, Rob. (and for your acknowledgment by way of intro). I really appreciate your help spreading the word.

    NOW, if we could get articles like these into the hands of doctors, therapists and medical bloggers, maybe we’d start to experience the differential diagnosis traction needed to extend the knowledge more quickly to “the doctors down the street” (reportedly 15-20 years before newer studies make it that far, btw).

    Great points made in the comment above, too. Women have long been labeled “hysterical” when their clinicians were unable to recognize (or diagnose) presenting symptoms – even female soldiers have complained that they don’t feel taken seriously, for heaven’s sakes! What chance does a female survivor of non-combat trauma have in that environment?

    And NOW we have a new label – borderline personality disorder – that threatens to delay accurate C-PTSD diagnosis in men as well as women until the presenting differentials are scientifically studied, written up, submitted & accepted for journal publication, replicated (going through the identical loop), reported in the secondary science publications and read by the clinicians that most sufferers will see.

    We have our work cut out for us, huh? Thanks again for your help and support.

    xx,
    mgh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I worked in Mental Health Borderline Personality Disorder was another way of saying ‘malingering’. The fact that most of the patients (I use the word patient because I do not ‘consume’ healthcare) diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder came from violent and often impoverished backgrounds was lost on clinicians who didn’t understand poverty or the complexity of the mind. They dismissed Freud and psycho-dynamic treatments because they were not ‘evidence based’ which meant they were expensive, time consuming and labor intensive for both the patient and the therapist.
      They shunned long term therapies and inpatient treatment because they didn’t want to ‘violate’ the right of the patient to inexplicably and painfully self destruct on the streets. American Medicine accepts the discharge of patients to homelessness as a viable treatment outcome. This surely reflects the corrupt nature of a political system that places profit above the best interest of the nation.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for adding this comment to the thread.

        I wish I could reply that this is news to me and that you are surely mistaken – but I am all too well aware that you are not. In a climate where profits for the few are placed far above the health, safety and well-being of the many, corporate capitalism is rotting our country from the inside.

        Truly SHAMEFUL (and I avoid that “s” word whenever possible).

        I have complained about what I see as an over-focus on and misunderstand/misapplication of “evidence-based” science in more than a few posts on this blog. Although it is currently presented as some sort of gold standard, like any tool, it is not universally useful.

        Sadly, by the time science has had the time to gather, publish and embrace the “evidence,” we will have lost another generation of lives that are struggling needlessly.

        The longer I live, the more frustrated by current dynamics I become.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      2. RE: I have complained about what I see as an over-focus on and misunderstand/misapplication of “evidence-based” science in more than a few posts on this blog.
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        By “this blog” I was referring to my own (ADDandSoMuchMore) – so don’t worry that you’ve overlooked them. I couldn’t tell from the notification screen where I replied that my response was to a comment on your blog.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      3. These things confuse me too. I think I went off on an unrelated rant after reading your blog–I’m not sure why but it had nothing to do with your post.

        I find the experience of being a patient of this terrible and corrupt system frustrating and frightening.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thank you for telling the truth about this. As someone that worked in the field like you, I’ve seen too much. Sometimes people opt for homelessness because once incarcerated in a hospital the “treatment” is so inhumane and brutal that homelessness is preferable. What treatment?: I ask to those NAMI advocates that insist that incompetent “therapy” and forced drugging be compulsory. Open Dialogue coming from Finland a result of mental health reform looks promising. It is far more humane but then anything that works elsewhere that the US attempts to replicate will have a spin on it that may diminish it’s effectiveness. There are always unknown variables in soft sciences as well that can influence positive outcomes and remain unaccounted for when an attempt to replicate success is made.
        I suggest they ask people that got better what helped them, and actually listen. Put those recovering folks in charge of some of the initiatives

        Liked by 2 people

      5. I agree with you.

        What is working for me is five plus years of twice weekly psychotherapy. My health plan tried to place be in CBT and DBT groups. DBT is an excellent adjunct to psychotherapy because managing ones emotions is a skill, even the normal ones.

        I was deeply offended by CBT based PTSD groups because if you don’t remember your trauma and don’t know you’re triggers being told to ‘watch what you think’ of counter-productive.

        I had a good advocate who understood that a diagnosis of Dissociation Identity Disorder from a system like Kaiser’s made an airtight case for psychotherapy as a medical necessity.

        So writing about it is my way of paying forward.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice article that articulates in bullet points the difference between complex PTSD and PTSD. It always makes things easier to read. Judith Hermann quoted in this article is a favorite and someone that noted early on that women with PTSD were treated in a far more stigmatizing way than their male counterparts with the same symptoms. I found the article triggering some of my objections to certain mental health labels for reasons noted below.

    Men were more likely to be labeled PTSD and women Borderline when presenting very similar symptoms. Judith Hermann noted this, Carol Gilligan is worth reading about the topic of misogyny in mental health as is Paula Caplan as she dissects the DSM for its male bias and harm to women. When she helped write the DSM 3 (I believe that was the issue she helped produce ) she came away horrified about the male entitlement in the process and the outright bigotry against women. She was the first female allowed to sit on the panel. That says something about its roots.

    I don’t think any discussion about CPTSD is complete without the historical harm done to women whose reaction to trauma was characterized as a personality disorder.

    I just wish CPTSD could stand on its own and not morph into a stigmatized and controversial diagnoses which it will when it carries the weight of a BPD designation by gendered association. (and I suspect women will far more often get the label and they’ll create some label more socially acceptable for men.)
    Complex PTSD was created as a diagnoses to set some distance between the typical stigma associated with BPD by the therapist world. I think this was a recommendation of Judith Hermann in Trauma and Recovering. (Malingering is also an unkind cut and the label used and how they punish their patient when their patient didn’t get well from their misguided treatment. I’ve heard therapists that got mad at a patient resisting them get labeled as malingering it erases their credibility as a human being

    The media has portrayed borderline personality disorder in stigmatizing and horrifying way. It doesn’t help. Movies like Fatal Attraction amp it up. Since females are more likely to be labeled with BPD a highly punitive diagnoses with tremendous negative ramifications in the wrong hands I cringe when the mental health world wants to shift the meaning of CPTSD to a label that historically really damaged its victims. The best thing I ever heard a professional say when introduced as a trauma specialist ” no one is a specialist, everything we think we know today will be disproved in 10 years” She presented some hypothesis then and some case stories that pointed to a trend which she declined to say proved anything.

    Like heart disease men and women present differently with the same disease. For decades women were misdiagnosed because the same disease looked so different in a female body. I wonder if trauma isn’t processed differently in female and male bodies, minds and souls. Therefore what might be a very normal way to process trauma in a female is considered an abnormal process because males do it differently? I don’t know, I just wonder about that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. GREAT comment! Although I did not include this portion of the issue in my [already almost too long] post, I share your outrage as well as your point of view.

      Would you be willing to copy it wholesale and paste it into a comment under the originating post, to make it available to anyone who doesn’t jump over to the reblog? Thanks.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks! I will try to copy the comment. The history of misogyny in mental health and harm done deserves a closer look and reformation in the field. Robert Whitaker has written some compelling books in Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic about the stunning malfeasance of the mental health industry related to pharmacological purchased influence over the field. Flawed studies, crooked studies, studies without informed consent, biases and influence peddling have created a psychopharmacology industrial complex with tremendous harm to patients that assume its run by hard science. There is little hard science, what science there is often does not back up the conclusions that greed and exploitation of a vulnerable populations want to push.
        Mad in America, the website, has some fabulous alternative opinions about the industry that are worth reading. Overall the corruption and harm is astonishing

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thanks Katie – although we must be careful not “to throw out the baby with the bath water,” mental health industry reform is much needed across the board. I wish I had the solution, but raising awareness of the need is certainly an essential step.

        Although I am aware of the most egregious of the abuses, I haven’t read Whitaker’s books so cannot comment there – but I will put them on my list! Thanks for the suggestion.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 2 people

Comments are closed.