Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Complex PTSD (Veterans Affairs)

Complex PTSD – https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/ptsd-overview/complex-ptsd.asp

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What types of trauma are associated with Complex PTSD?
  • What does Complex PTSD do to one’s self perception?


This is a simply a factsheet from the National PTSD center. I’m including it here because it provides information on a form of PTSD not usually dealt with in literature or in films. From the website:

Clinicians and researchers have found that the current PTSD diagnosis often does not capture the severe psychological harm that occurs with such prolonged, repeated trauma. For example, ordinary, healthy people who experience chronic trauma can experience changes in their self-concept and the way they adapt to stressful events. Dr. Judith Herman of Harvard University suggests that a new diagnosis, Complex PTSD, is needed to describe the symptoms of long-term trauma (1). Another name sometimes used to describe this cluster of symptoms is: Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified (DESNOS)(2).

This page includes examples of the situations that appear to contribute to Complex PTSD and a listing of symptoms. There is also a reading list for more information.


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