Judith Herman’s Complex Trauma Definition

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  •    A history of subjection to totalitarian control over a prolonged period ( months to years ).  Examples include hostages, prisoners of war, concentration-camp survivors, and survivors of some religious cults.  Examples also include those subjected to domestic battering, childhood physical or sexual abuse, and organized sexual exploitation.
  •  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 )
  •  Alterations in consciousness, including
    • Amnesia or hyperamnesia for traumatic events
    • Transient dissociative episodes
    • Depersonalization/derealisation
    • Reliving experiences, either in the form of intrusive PTSD symptoms or in the form of ruminative preoccupation.
  •  Alterations in self-perception, including
    • 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 )
  • Alterations in perception of perpetrator, including
    • Preoccupation with relationship with perpetrator (includes preoccupation with revenge).
    • Acceptance of belief system or rationalizations of perpetrator
  •  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
  •  Alterations in systems of meaning
    • Loss of sustaining faith
    • Sense of hopelessness and despair

Copied from Trauma and Recovery: The aftermath of violence – from domestic abuse to political terror by Judith Herman

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