Thursday, October 29, 2015

What constitutes trauma?

I've seen a few articles recently that state that emotional abuse may be as damaging as physical or sexual abuse. It's the use of the word may that bothers me. I think the best person to ask is the person who has been emotionally abused, don't you? In addition to that, every person who is physically and/or sexually abused is also emotionally abused, one cannot happen without the other.

There have also been studies about whether neglect is as bad as abuse. Maybe in some ways it's worse, because if someone is neglecting you, they don't care. Is that the ultimate rejection? But why do we even ask these questions? Comparisons really are odious. If you are showing the signs of trauma, whatever they result from, you are traumatised.

A diagnosis of PTSD is not the only way you can display the symptoms of trauma and if you don't fit all of the criteria (or any) it does not mean you are not suffering from trauma. In fact, if you don't nominate criterion A1*, you won't even be assessed for the other PTSD criteria, that is how much a diagnosis of trauma hinges on an event and not an experience. It is a symptom of the so-called objective world we live in, which many mistakenly believe is more "scientific". But human experiences are not objective, they are subjective and until we take people's experiences seriously, many people will not get the help that they need.

* The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

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