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War and Suicide Medicalization of distress: Pros and cons

Medicalization of distress: Pros and cons

Edith van’t Hof and Dan J. Stein
University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa
War and Suicide. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2009, 306 pages.

Discussion of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) dominates the current literature on psychopathology related to conflict. Nevertheless, much controversy exists regarding the responses to traumatic experiences and the PTSD diagnosis. Proponents of the diagnosis regard symptoms of PTSD as psychopathological consequences of a trauma. On the other hand, critics view PTSD as ‘invented’ by socio-political processes, a way of medicalizing distress after traumatic events. In this chapter we put forward an integrative view which emphasizes that there have been significant advances in understanding and treating PTSD, but which also notes that not all psychological distress after trauma should be termed post traumatic stress disorder. There are benefits in focussing on resilience during and after traumatic events, but at the same time a balanced perspective is needed to ensure compassion to those who require care for their symptoms.

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