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PTSD in History: From Uruk to Baghdad

  • Philippe J. BirmesEmail author
  • Eric Bui
Reference work entry

Abstract

The historical evolution of the concept of psychological trauma is relevant to the establishment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a syndrome. Exposure to overwhelming terror can lead to troubling memories, which has been a central theme in the literature since the time of Gilgamesh. The isolated anecdote thus evolved into a clinical entity whose medical and psychiatric complexity underwent large-scale development during and immediately after World War I. The scientific integration of the traumatic stress entity included three main steps: (i) a scientific interest created by clinical anecdotes, (ii) the integration of a syndrome when the observable scientific facts can be reproduced using reliable criteria, and (iii) a pathogenic specificity corroborating the fundamentals of the clinical observation.

Keywords

Antiquity History Stress Trauma Traumatic dreams Traumatic neurosis Vietnam War 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire du Stress Traumatique/LST (EA 4560); CHU de Toulouse, Hôpital de PsychiatrieUniversité de Toulouse; Université Paul Sabatier-Toulouse 3ToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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