Tag Archives: Cptsd

What Are The Differences Between BPD And Complex PTSD? : A Study

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difference between complex ptsd and bpd

bpd-versus-complex-ptsd

Because there is a considerable overlap in symptoms between those suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD) and those suffering from complex posttraumatic disorder (complex PTSD) , those with the latter condition can be misdiagnosed as suffering from the former condition (you can read my article about this by clicking here).

In order to help clarify the differences between the two conditions and help show how they are distinct from one another, this article is about a research study which sought to delineate these two very serious psychiatric conditions.

What Are The Differences In Symptoms Between Those Suffering From Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) And Those Suffering From Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Complex PTSD)?

A study into the different symptoms displayed by sufferers of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD) involving the study of two hundred at eighty adult women who had experienced abuse during their childhoods and published in the European Journal of Psychotraumatology in 2014 compared the symptoms of those suffering from BPD with those suffering from complex PTSD.

bpd-versus-complex-ptsd

 

The following results from the study were obtained :

SYMPTOMS SHARED APPROXIMATELY EQUALLY BETWEEN THOSE SUFFERING FROM BPD AND THOSE SUFFERING FROM COMPLEX PTSD :

Some symptoms were found to be shared approximately equally between those suffering from  borderline personality disorder (BPD) and those suffering from complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD). The symptoms that fell into this category were as follows :

  • AFFECTIVE DYSREGULATION (ANGER) i.e. frequent feelings of intense rage that the individual cannot control (regulate)
  • VERY LOW FEELINGS OF SELF-WORTH
  • AFFECTIVE DYSREGULATION (SENSITIVE) i.e. feelings of hypersensitivity that cannot be controlled (regulated)
  • INTENSE FEELINGS OF GUILT
  • INTERPERSONAL DETACHMENT / ALONENESS i.e. feeling cut-off and alienated from others, isolated and apart
  • FEELINGS OF EMPTINESS

However, some symptoms were found to be significantly more prevalent amongst those suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD) than amongst those suffering from complex posttraumatic stress disorder (complex PTSD) as shown below :

SYMPTOMS THAT WERE FOUND TO BE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE PREVALENT AMONGST THOSE SUFFERING FROM BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD) THAN AMONGST THOSE SUFFERING FROM COMPLEX POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (COMPLEX PTSD) :

 

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

 

 

Prolonged Exposure Therapy And Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Major symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex posttraumatic stress disorder (cPTSD)click here to read about the difference between these two conditions – are fear, anxiety and even terror induced by :

– situations related to the traumatic experience

– people related to the traumatic experience

– places related to the traumatic experience

– activities related to the traumatic experience

Prolonged Exposure Therapy Involves Two Specific Types Of Exposure To Trauma-Related Phenomena :

a) In Vivo Exposure

b) Imaginal Exposure

In Vivo Exposure :

Prolonged exposure therapy works by encouraging the individual with PTSD / cPTSD, in a supportive manner, very gradually, to confront these situations / people / places / activities whilst, at the same time, feeling safe, secure and calm. Because this part of the therapy involves exposure to ‘real life’ situations / people / places / activities it is called in vivo exposure.

This is so important because avoiding these situations / people / places / activities, whilst reducing the individual’s anxiety in the short-term, in the longer-term simply perpetuates, and, potentially, intensifies, his/her fear of these things.

Imaginal Exposure:

The therapy also involves the PTSD / cPTSD sufferer talking over details and memories of the traumatic experience in a safe environment and whilst in a relaxed frame of mind (the therapist can help to induce a relaxed frame of mind by teaching the patient/client breathing exercises and/or physical relaxation techniques; hypnosis can also be used to help induce a state of relaxation). Because this part of the therapy ‘only’ involves mental exposure to the trauma (i.e. thinking about it in one’s mind), it is called imaginal exposure and can help alleviate intense emotions connected to the original trauma (e.g. fear and anger).

Both in vivo and imaginal exposure to the trauma-related stimuli are forms of desensitizing and habituating the patient / client to them, thus reducing his/her symptoms of PTSD / cPTSD.

How Effective Is Prolonged Exposure Therapy?

Prolonged exposure therapy is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and research into the treatment of PTSD suggests it is the most effective treatment currently available.

What Is The Duration Of The Treatment?

The length of time a patient / client spends in treatment varies in accordance with his/her needs and his/her therapist’s particular approach. However, the usual duration of the treatment is between two and four months, comprising weekly sessions of approximately ninety minutes each.

On top of this, the patient / client will need to undertake some therapeutic exercises/activities in his/her own time, set by the therapist as ‘ homework assignments’. These assignments will include listening to recordings of imaginal exposure therapy sessions.

Common Reactions To Trauma That Might Be Discussed During Prolonged Exposure Therapy :

Understanding that one may have an extensive range of symptoms but that all of these symptoms may be related to one fundamental cause (i.e. the traumatic experience) helps one to gain insight into one’s condition which, in turn, is likely to facilitate recovery. Common reactions to trauma that might be discussed with the therapist during prolonged exposure therapy include :

Emotions, including :

fear 

sadness / depression

anxiety

– feelings of numbness / emptiness

feelings of being in a trance / dissociation

feelings of guilt

feelings of shame

Avoidance of things that remind one (on either a conscious or unconscious level) of the trauma, including :

attempting to banish thoughts connected to the trauma from one’s mind

– avoiding people, places, situations etc. that remind one of the trauma

Fundamental changes in one’s view of the world and of other people (see ‘Shattered Assumptions’ Theory).

loss of ability to trust others

self-blame

– viewing self as ‘weak’

– losing faith in the world being a reasonably safe place and, instead,           seeing danger everywhere and constantly feeling under threat / in a state of fight / flight

Physiological changes, including :

hypervigilance

– insomnia / nightmares / night terrors

– loss of libido

– hypersensitive startle response.

RESOURCE :

OVERCOME HYPERVIGILANCE | SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS. CLICK HERE.

RESOURCE:

The National Center For PTSD has developed a PROLONGED EXPOSURE APP, or PE APP. Click here for further information and download instructions.

eBook :

Above eBook now available from Amazon for instant download. Other titles available. Click here for further information.
 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Wrongly Diagnosed With BPD?

We have seen that if a person has suffered significant and protracted childhood trauma, she or he is at greatly increased risk of being diagnosed, as an adult, with borderline personality disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (usually abbreviated to DSM), a person diagnosed with BPD must meet at least FIVE of the following nine criteria:

1) Extreme swings in emotions.

2) Explosive anger.

3) Intense fear of rejection/abandonment sometimes leading to frantic efforts to maintain a relationship.

4) Impulsiveness

5) Self-harm

6) Unstable self-concept (not really knowing ‘who one is’)

7) Chronic feelings of ’emptiness‘ (often leading to excessive drinking/eating etc ‘to fill the vacuum’)

8) Dissociation ( a feeling of being ‘disconnected from reality’)

9) Intense and highly volatile relationships

N.B. These symptoms must have been stable characteristics present for at least six months

However, some theorists and researchers have pointed out certain problems with defining BPD in this manner and question the validity of the diagnosis; I outline the most serious of these problems below :

1) In order to be diagnosed with BPD, a person need display just five of the above nine symptoms. It logically follows from this that two people could each be diagnosed with five of the above symptoms, yet have only one of those five symptoms in common with one another. In other words, two people could each be manifesting very different symptoms, yet receive identical diagnoses.

2) Stipulating that an individual must have five or more of the above symptoms is essentially arbitrary (why not four or six?). Also, linked to this criticism, there seems to be a third problem with the diagnosis :

3) The third problem is this : a person with four of the above symptoms, even if they were very severe, would have to be (according to the diagnostic criteria) diagnosed as NOT having BPD whereas a person who just manages to be judged to be displaying five symptoms (even if none are as severe as the first person’s four symptoms) WOULD be diagnosed as having BPD. This brings us onto the fourth problem with the diagnosis :

4) In accordance with the diagnostic criteria, an individual is either deemed to HAVE BPD or NOT HAVE BPD. In other words, it is an ‘all or nothing’ diagnosis which doesn’t allow for grey areas. This is ironic as one of the symptoms BPD sufferers are said to show is ‘black and white’ or ‘all or nothing thinking’ (such as seeing others as ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’ but never as anything inbetween).

Because of this problem, some critics have suggested that it would be better to view BPD as a ‘spectrum’ disorder, with each individual occupying a specific place on this spectrum (in the way that autism is treated as a spectrum disorder).

5) A diagnosis of BPD does not seem to describe a unique, separate, distinct disorder clearly delineated from other personality disorders ; indeed, many who have been diagnosed with BPD are found to suffer from co-morbid conditions such as antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic disorder

In conclusion it should be mentioned that many critics of the BPD diagnosis feel many individuals have been wrongly diagnosed with it (and unnecessarily stigmatizedsee below) and should be diagnosed with complex post traumatic stress disorder instead.

Indeed, it has been suspected for a while now that many people who have been diagnosed with BPD should really have been diagnosed with a different syndrome known as complex post traumatic stress disorder.

Whilst simple PTSD typically results from an intense, one- off, traumatic experience, complex PTSD occurs as a result of protracted and prolonged trauma. Complex PTSD is especially likely to occur in cases of child abuse that continued over a long period, especially when the abuser should have been acting as the child’s primary carer (e.g. a parent or step-parent).

It has been found that a very high percentage of those diagnosed with BPD experienced severe childhood trauma which is why (amongst other reasons, see below) many experts are now questioning whether a large number of those so diagnosed should, instead, have been diagnosed with Complex PTSD.

Complex PTSD is so damaging to an individual as it eats into the very core of how s/he perceives him or herself and affects, on a profound level, how s/he views others and the world in general. In short, it adversely impinges upon a person’s core and fundamental beliefs.

Symptoms of Complex PTSD

severe mood swings

– out of control emotions

– out of control behaviours e.g. shoplifting, pathological gambling, promiscuous and risky sex, severe overspending

dissociation. 

– eating disorders.

– overeating  / obesity.

–  impaired and distorted view of abuser (leading to emotional attachment). This is also known as Stockholm Syndrome.

– marked distrust of others.

– intense jealousy.

– extreme neediness

– hopelessness / despair.

– feeling that life is utterly devoid of meaning.

– inappropriate feelings of guilt / shame / self-disgust.

– outbursts of extreme anger (sometimes with physical violence).

– severe anxiety.

– suicidal thoughts and or behaviour.

Overlap With BPD Symptoms:

It is because these symptoms overlap substantially with the symptoms of BPD that it is thought many people are being diagnosed with BPD when they should be being diagnosed for Complex PTSD.

It is my belief that a main cause of such misdiagnosis is that  doctors do not spend enough (or, indeed, any!) time talking to supposed ‘BPD suffers’ about their childhood experiences.

Given the choice, I suspect, if there are valid reasons, most people would feel more comfortable with a diagnosis of Complex PSTD than one of BPD. This is because, sadly and wrongly, stigma still tenaciously attaches itself to a diagnosis of BPD.

Also, a diagnosis of Complex PTSD implicitly acknowledges the fact that the sufferer has had harm done to him/her and that Complex PTSD is a NORMAL REACTION TO AN ABNORMAL SET OF EXPERIENCES.

This could significantly help sufferers cast off, once and for all, the vast weigh of guilt many feel in one fell swoop.

If You Feel Your Diagnosis Of BPD Is Correct, Should You Tell Others That You Suffer From It?

Deciding whether to tell others about the fact one is suffering from BPD presents a very difficult dilemma: on the one hand, there is the worry of being stigmatized (see below) and discriminated against, and, on the other, there is the possibility that others will become more understanding of one.

Because few people, through no fault of their own, are well educated about psychological issues, the decision a sufferer of BPD must make as to whether or not to tell others is one that cannot be taken lightly. However, it need not be an ‘all-or-nothing’ decision: it is obviously possible to tell some people (if reasonably believed to be entirely trustworthy) whilst not telling others; similarly, it is possible to decide how much detail it is necessary (or not) to go into.

First of all, let’s look at the possible benefits (and it important to note the word ‘possible’, as they are by no means guaranteed) which might come from telling others:

– those told might become more empathetic, understanding and forgiving.

– those told might feel closer to you as a result.

– those told might wish to offer some help and support.

I REPEAT, THOUGH, NONE OF THESE POSITIVE OUTCOMES CAN, IN ANY WAY, BE COUNTED ON:

So let’s now consider some possible negative repercussions:

– those told may hurt the sufferer further by ‘not wanting to know’.

– those told may tell others that the sufferer did not wish them to tell, thus betraying their trust. Then, sadly as we all know, some people have an unlimited capacity to entertain themselves with malicious gossip.

– the sufferer may be met with discrimination.

– if the sufferer tells people that s/he has a personality disorder, which carries with it very negative connotations, they may consider the sufferer ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’ due to their lack of knowledge and, conceivably, fear.
– people told may lose the confidence or motivation to interact with the sufferer further.

– people may cynically think that the sufferer is trying to provide an excuse for their mistakes.

It is worth re-emphasizing that, because it is impossible to predict with complete accuracy how another will respond, the decision about what to tell and whom to tell should be given a great deal of thought.

THE USEFULNESS OF FIRST GETTING PROFESSIONAL ADVICE AND SUPPORT:

It is recommended, very strongly, that anyone suffering from BPD should seek professional therapy. With more and more research being conducted on the condition, positive treatment outcomes for those with BPD are continually increasing in likelihood. Professionals who can help treat BPD, and provide advice and support include:

– psychiatrists.

– psychologists.

– counsellors.

– social workers specializing in mental health issues
– family therapists.

– community mental health nurses.

Such professionals can help the sufferer to come to a decision about considerations which may include:

– whether to tell others/whom to tell.

– any treatment being received or considered.

– specific symptoms the sufferer experiences which are believed to stem from the condition of BPD.

– the causes of BPD (particular care is adviseable hear if explaining these to someone the sufferer believes may have contributed to their development of the condition).

N.B. Any decision to inform an employer of one’s condition should definitely only be undertaken once the relevant advice (including legal advice regarding the relevant discrimination laws, which are a mine-field) has been sought. It should be borne in mind that legal disputes with an employer, especially regarding such a sensitive issue as discrimination law, can be extremely stressful and emotionally draining.

Finally, it is worth saying that, in general, is easier to discuss the condition with others if one has spent some to researching it.

STIGMA

As mental illness is dictated by a combination of environmental and genetic factors, it can happen to absolutely anyone. Even individuals a long way into adulthood, who have previously always enjoyed good mental health, can suddenly be plunged into a severe clinical depression by a single traumatic life event. Nobody is immune. Mental illness HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PERSONAL FAILINGS.

However, stigma connected to mental illness is still far from uncommon. Others can stigmatize those of us who have suffered mental illness, and turn their backs in disdain and contempt with a feeling of smug, self-satisfied superiority, due to their lack of education on the matter; also, however, some people who suffer mental illness (having internalized society’s often less than compassionate take on the condition) can, in effect, self-stigmatize: because mental illness often causes negative thinking patterns and feelings of worthlessness, it is all too easy for us to fall into the trap of compounding our suffering by feeling bad about being mentally ill (we may see ourselves as weak, for example). In other words, we may add a kind of additional, unnecessary layer to our distress: feeling bad about ourselves for feeling bad about ourselves, as it were. This has been referred to by some psychologists as METAWORRYING.

It is, of course, generally easier to alter the way that we feel about ourselves than it is to change the way others feel about us; ignorance, after all, can have a dispiritingly tenacious quality. Therefore, a good place to start in the fight against stigma is to change how we see ourselves for having experienced mental illness: we need, in short, to stop stigmitizing ourselves.

mental illness and stigma

TACKLING STIGMATIZATION BY SOCIETY:

Whilst stigmatization by society, as I have said, still, obviously, exists, attitudes are improving all the time with greater public education and more and more individuals, with a prominent public profile, willing to talk openly about their own experience of mental illness (most notably, perhaps, in the UK, the writer, actor and comedian – and probably a lot of other things I can’t currently call to mind – Stephen Fry, who suffers bipolar disorder).

Progress has been made in society in relation to racism and homophobia, and, it would seem, there is no obvious reason why similar progress should not be made in relation to society’s attitude towards those unfortunate enough to experience mental illness.

THE FIRST STEP:

The first step we can all make, as I have suggested, is to stop blaming ourselves, and feeling bad about ourselves, for having suffered psychological difficulties.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Possible Adverse Physical Effects of CPTSD

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

Unfortunately, as well as psychological effects, if we have developed complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) as a result of our childhood experiences (click here to read my article on the difference between PTSD and CPTSD), the condition can also give rise to adverse physical effects (i.e. bodily/somatic effects).

The main reason for this is that, as sufferers of CPTSD, we tend to be chronically locked into a state of distressing hyper-arousal (which psychologists often refer to as the fight/flight state – click here to read my article on this).

Essentially, this means that our SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM becomes CHRONICALLY OVER-ACTIVATED, which, in turn, can lead to harmful bodily processes resulting in, for example :

– over-production of ADRENALINE (a hormone that is produced by the body when we perceive ourselves to be in danger, preparing us for ‘fight or flight’)

disrupted sleep (which can have a deleterious effect on our physical health).

– stomach disorders (due to a tightened digestive tract)

– excessive muscle tension

shallow / rapid breathing (causing us to take in too much CO2 (carbon dioxide)  and not enough O (oxygen) – this can cause panic attacks

– a general inability to relax leading to unhealthy ‘self-medication’ such as excessive drinking, smoking, over-eating, use of narcotics

images

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

There are various strategies we can use to help manage this problem, including :

– stretching exercises

yoga specifically tailored to sufferers of CPTSD

– massage

mindfulness meditation

self-hypnosis for relaxation

The above therapies are likely to be more effective if combined with other therapies that address the root of the problem (i.e. adverse childhood experiences). In relation to this, the following may be considered :

COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT)click here to read my article on this

DIALECTICAL BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (DBT) click here to read my article on this

EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITISATION AND REPROCESSING THERAPY (EMDR)click here to read my article on this.

 

eBook : CHILDHOOD TRAUMA AND ITS LINK TO COMPLEX PTSD

To view on Amazon, CLICK HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

Why can Effects of Childhood Trauma be Delayed?

Delayed onset post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) ,which can occur as a result of a severely disrupted childhood, is defined by the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) as PTSD which develops at least six months after the traumatic event/s; however, PTSD can take much longer than this to manifest itself.

One reason why PTSD may not become apparent immediately is that the individual who has been affected by  trauma is able, for a period of time, to employ coping mechanisms (either consciously or unconsciously) which keep the condition at bay. During this period, some of the effects of the traumatic experience/s lie dormant.However, due to the experiencing of  further triggers (stress-inducing reminders of the original trauma), the person’s neurobiological processes (already harmed by the original trauma) may be further adversely affected until a ‘tipping point’ is reached and the s/he meets the criteria for being diagnosed with the disorder.

In other words, there is an interaction between the original damage caused by the trauma and exposure to further stressors later on in life. It follows from this that the more severe the original trauma, and the more severe the stressors life throws at the individual subsequently, the greater is the his/her accumulated risk of developing PTSD. Indeed, this is borne out by the research.

 

ORIGINAL TRAUMA LEADS TO GREATER VULNERABILITY TO EFFECTS OF FURTHER STRESS :

The original trauma, then, makes the individual more susceptible to being affected adversely by further life stressors. In neurological terms, this is thought to be because the original trauma can damage an area of the brain known as the amygdala; damage to this region makes a person’s fear/anxiety response to stressors much more intense than is normally the case (click here to read my article on how the effects of childhood trauma can physically harm the brain).

The more the individual affected by the original trauma subsequently experiences stressful triggers (see above) which cause him/her to relive it, the more damaged, and hypersensitive to the effects of further stress, the amydala (see above) becomes. Eventually, the amygdala’s response to perceived threat and danger (there does not have to be any real threat or danger ; indeed, one of the hallmarks of PTSD is that it causes the sufferer to see threat everywhere, where it does not, in fact, exist)  become so exaggerated that the individual finds him/herself living in what amounts to a state of almost constant terror (indeed, I myself was in just such a state for more time than I care to recall).

VICIOUS CYCLE:

As the individual starts to perceive, irrationally, threat everywhere, the range of triggers (see above) s/he experiences grows ever wider; this, in turn, yet further sensitizes the amygdala and reinforces the individual’s stress response. Thus, a vicious cycle develops.

CRITICAL PERIOD OF BRAIN VULNERABILITY :

I will finish with a quote from the psychologist Shalev, which I think speaks for itself and requires no further elucidation from me :

‘Following trauma there is a critical period of brain plasticity during which serious neuronal changes may occur in those who go on to develop PTSD.’

NB. To learn more about BRAIN PLASTICITY, and how we can take advantage of the phenomenon to aid our own recoveries,  click here to read my article).

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

Childhood Trauma: Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (with Questionnaire).

 

complex post traumatic stress disorder questionnaire

Survivors of extreme trauma often suffer persistent anxiety, phobias, panic, depression, identity and relationship problems. Many times, the set of symptoms the individual presents with are not connected to the original trauma by those providing treatment (as certainly was the case for me in the early years of my treatment, necessitating me to undertake my own extensive research, of which this blog is partly a result) and, of course, treatment will not be forthcoming if the survivor suffers in silence.

Any treatment not linked to the original trauma will tend to be ineffective as THE UNDERLYING TRAUMA IS NOT BEING ADDRESSED. Also, there is a danger that a wrong diagnosis may be given; possibly the diagnosis will be one that may be interpreted, by the individual given it, as perjorative (such as a personality disorder).

ptsd

Individuals who have survived protracted and severe childhood trauma often present with a very complex set of symptoms and have developed, as a result of their unpleasant experiences, deep rooted problems affecting their personality and how they relate to others. The psychologist, Kolb, has noted that the post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms survivors of severe maltreatment in childhood might develop ‘may appear to mimic every personality disorder’ and that ‘severe personality disorganization’ can emerge.

Another psychologist, Lenore Terr, has differentiated between two specific types of trauma: TYPE 1 and TYPE2. TYPE 1 refers to symptoms resulting from a single trauma; TYPE 2 refers to symptoms resulting from protracted and recurring trauma, the hallmarks of which are:

– emotional numbing
– dissociation
– cycling between passivity and explosions of rage

This second type of trauma response has been referred to as COMPLEX POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (COMPLEX PTSD) and more research needs to be conducted on it; however, an initial questionnaire to help in its diagnosis has been developed and I reproduce it below:

COMPLEX PTSD QUESTIONNAIRE

1) A history of, for example, severe childhood trauma

2) Alterations in affect regulation, including
– persistent dysphoria
– chronic suicidal preoccupation
– self-injury
– explosive or extremely inhibited anger (may alternate)
– compulsive or extremely inhibited sexuality (may alternate)

3) Alterations in consciousness, including
– amnesia or hypernesia for traumatic events
– transient dissociative episodes
– depersonalization/derealization
– reliving experiences, either in the form of intrusive post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms or in the form of ruminative preoccupation

4) Alterations in self-perception, including
– a sense of helplessness or paralysis of initiative
– shame, guilt and self-blame
– sense of defilement or stigma
– sense of complete difference from others (may include sense of specialness, utter aloneness, belief no other person can understand, or nonhuman identity)

5) Alterations in perceptions of perpetrator, including

– preoccupation with relationship with perpetrator (includes preoccupation with revenge)
– unrealistic attribution of total power to perpetrator (although the perpetrator may have more power than the clinician treating the individual is aware of)
– idealization or paradoxical gratitude
– sense of special or supernatural relationship
– acceptance of belief system or rationalizations of perpetrator

6) Alterations in relations with others, including

– isolation and withdrawal
– disruption in intimate relationships
– repeated search for rescuer (may alternate with isolation and withdrawal)
– persistent distrust
– repeated failures of self-protection

7) Alterations in systems of meaning
– loss of sustaining faith
– sense of hopelessness and despair

Why Is Complex PTSD Becoming More Common?

And the incidence of complex PTSD is increasing. What are the possible reasons for this increase in the prevalence of this very serious psychiatric disorder?

First, it is possible that as the general population and clinicians become more aware of the existence of the disorder and its link to childhood trauma it is becoming increasingly reported and diagnosed. However, there are several other possible explanations and I examine these briefly below :

POSSIBLE REASONS FOR THE INCREASE IN PREVALENCE OF COMPLEX POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (Complex PTSD) :

1) Growing up in unstable environments :

More and more young people are growing up in unstable environments. Increasing rates of divorce and separation means that a higher and higher number of children and adolescents are growing up in single parent households (to read my article about the possible effects of divorce upon the child, click here).

2) Reduction in social support systems :

Research shows that a lack of social support makes individuals much more vulnerable to the adverse effects of stress. And, today, children tend to have less access to others who could provide them with emotional support than has been the case in the past due to, for example :

  • communities that are not as close-knit as in the past
  • less contact with wider family (e.g. aunts, uncles, grandparents) than in the past as wider family members are becoming more geographically dispersed than in past

3) Increase in number of working mothers :

This can lead to infants having inconsistent early care as they me be shuttled around from day-care to nursery care to babysitters and so on possibly leading to a variation in quality of care and less opportunity for the infant to develop his/her bond with the mother

4) Parental preoccupation with their careers :

In a ‘go-getting’ society, in which status and wealth are of fundamental importance to many people, individuals are becoming very driven, even obsessively driven, in connection with their careers, sometimes leading to workaholism; this leaves such persons with less time to interact in any really meaningful way with their offspring or leads to such exhaustion that they simply do not have enough energy left over for such meaningful interactions.

5) Unhelpful effects of media :

Young people are becoming increasingly obsessed with media, such as computer games and so on, which leaves them with less time for psychologically nourishing face-to-face interaction with friends and family.

6) Unhelpful effects of living in  consumer society :

Society has become increasingly obsessed with acquiring consumer goods and the accumulation of these is often linked in people’s minds to their ‘status’ and ‘worth as a human being.‘ Such attitudes may lead young people to develop false values which in turn may aggravate psychological problems.

Anyone who feels their condition may be reflected by the above is urged to seek professional intervention at the earliest opportunity.

Related post :  Complex  PTSD Treatment

RESOURCES :


Above eBook, Childhood Trauma And Its Link To CPTSD, now available on Amazon for immediate download. Click here.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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