In the years following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) gained wide spread concern, and today, this disorder that has undergone a great deal of research in psychology and related literature.
The relationship of this disorder with past trauma, and the method of reducing the effect of PTSD through psychological treatment and medication, has been studied by various scholars in the discipline. Although there has been a considerable amount of research on the topic since its official recognition as a disorder in 1980, most of our knowledge about PTSD has come from returning war veterans.
In addition, some of this research indicates that the differences in the degree of the disorder are due to the varying nature of the trauma experienced by that individual. This paper is a critical study of a peer-reviewed article on PTSD that aims to understand the nature of empirical research on PTSD and deduce inferences regarding the effectiveness of these researches.
PTSD research has also tried to understand the effect of previous trauma on PTSD victims and its effect on subsequent exposure to trauma. A study conducted by Breslau, Chilcoat, Kessler, & Davis (1999) tried to ascertain the effect of childhood trauma on trauma infested Vietnam veterans. The research collected a large sample of 2181 individuals who were interviewed over the telephone.
They used randomly selected index trauma to detect PTSD. The results of the study indicated that individuals who have traumatic experience in childhood were at a greater risk on exposure to subsequent trauma and at greater threat of PTSD. The empirical study thus pointed out that an individual who had experience childhood violence was more likely to experience PTSD in adulthood.
The study indicates that the intensity of PTSD is affected by the number of previous traumatic events in the individuals’ childhood, recency of the traumatic event, and the nature of previous trauma. Empirical research suggested that higher number of exposure to trauma led to greater possibility of PTSD in individuals. It also indicated one isolated exposure to trauma did not hold high risk for the disorder to occur.
Further, the research indicated that individuals were at higher risk of PTSD, if they had single or multiple exposures to assaultive violence previously. The research also indicated that in case of assaultive violence such as rape or combat in childhood, individuals were at greater risk, approximately within 5 years period, of PTSD.
The data analysis was done on randomly selected 1922 respondents who experienced previous trauma since the age of 5 years. The research findings show that the risk of PTSD depended on the type of index trauma. In this assaultive violence concurred greatest risk. Further, the research also showed no significant relation between age and PTSD.
The research findings supports the initial hypothesis that previous traumatic even causes greater risk of PTSD in case of subsequent trauma. The research indicates that when individuals were exposed to assaultive trauma in their childhood, it has greater association with PTSD. However, the limitation of the study is its hypothesis from the previous researches on PTSD.
The research shows that the victims who had been exposed to previous trauma are at a greater risk of PTSD in case subsequent trauma. The empirical research using a vast number of respondents demonstrates the effect of previous trauma is higher in case of assaultive violence. This research too confers the findings by Breslau et al. (1999).
Breslau, N., Chilcoat, H., Kessler, R. C., & Davis, G. C. (1999). Previous Exposure to Trauma and PTSD Effects of Subsequent Trauma: Results from the Detroit Area Survey of Trauma. American Journal of Psychology, 156(6) , 902-907.