Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious and sometimes debilitating mental disorder. Yet only about one in ten people who are exposed to significant traumatic events develop PTSD. Since its inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) in 1980, the definition of PTSD has been controversial. Various changes made to the criteria have gradually widened the diagnostic criteria, which now include experiences that may not involve direct exposure to trauma, which in turn has led to PTSD to be over-diagnosed: clinicians may be tempted to seize on traumatic events in a history as an explanation of mental disorders, while patients may automatically receive the diagnosis if they experienced major trauma in the past.
Myths of Trauma is a timely and important book that probes the sensitive, emotional, and often controversial subject of trauma, the difficulties associated with its diagnosis, and the over-diagnosis of PTSD. Trauma has become a catch-all for many kinds of adverse experiences, when in reality, people are significantly resilient to traumatic events. The book also explores how responses to trauma develop in the context of multiple interwoven risk factors, ranging from genetic vulnerability effecting sensitivity to the environment, as well as past adversities; how trauma has become a political issue that interferes with unbiased scientific study of its effects; and how trauma narratives can have a darker side when patients use them to justify feelings of victimhood that interfere with their own agency.
Integrating and analysing the vast quantities of scientific literature on the topic, Myths of Trauma teaches us not to think about trauma in isolation or as one thing rather than many different things. The experiences of trauma deserve a place in clinical practice, and it is time for PTSD to be viewed through a more complex and multidimensional lens within the broader biopsychosocial context.
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: Does Trauma Cause Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?
Chapter 2: Individual Differences in Response to Trauma
Chapter 3: Trauma in Historical and Social Perspective
Chapter 4: Risk, Resilience, and Trauma
Chapter 5: Childhood Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Chapter 6: Trauma and the Science of Memory
Chapter 7: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Personality Disorders
Chapter 8: Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Chapter 9: Summary and Implications
About the Author:
Joel Paris is currently a Research Associate at the Jewish General Hospital and heads the personality clinics at two McGill hospitals. He was born in New York City but has spent most of his life in Canada. He obtained an MD from McGill University, where he also trained in psychiatry. Dr. Paris has been a member of the McGill psychiatry department since 1972, where he served as Department Chair from 1997 to 2007. He is a former Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Dr. Paris' research interest is in borderline personality disorder. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles and is the author of 27 books and 50 book chapters. Dr. Paris is an educator who has supervised psychiatric evaluation with residents for 50 years and who has won awards for his teaching.