A former student (HT Armando!) sent me this link today about a woman who experienced PTSD like symptoms after receiving an out-of-the-blue text from her husband telling her he was leaving and divorcing her.
She experienced flashbacks, nightmares, became hyper-alert to dangers, unable to sleep and other such symptoms that are common to PTSD. She did not have an actual or perceived threat on her life–a necessary requirement for the current diagnosis of PTSD. However, she did seem to respond to the surprising evidence that her husband had deceived her for some time as having been “sleeping with the enemy.”
This question for you is whether you think it harms those who suffer classic PTSD (i.e., those who do experience a threat on their life) to lump them together with those who have similar symptoms from non-life threatening trauma. Yes? No?
I have observed pastors in significant conflict with church leaders exhibit PTSD like symptoms. I have observed individuals who learn in late adolescence or adulthood that their parents were actually adoptive parents. It appears that some of the same symptoms exhibited by those who experienced rapes, car crashes, or war trauma show up in some individuals whose world is turned upside down by another’s deception and duplicity.
So I ask the question again: What is gained or lost by expanding PTSD diagnosis to include those with similar symptoms but without the threat of physical injury or death?
Here’s one gain and loss for someone having this kind of divorce reaction. Those who have the symptoms without the physical threats may find some comfort in knowing their reactions are had by many others. However, I would imagine that most of these same people may find their symptoms abate more quickly than that of those who see actual death and destruction. Thus, a diagnosis of PTSD may end up hurting them due to an over-estimation of recovery time needed.