There’s a great PTSD support site called GIFT FROM WITHIN (GFW). They have an interesting Q&A feature that recently highlighted defining Complex PTSD.Dr. Frank Ochberg is a terrific source of PTSD information.Joyce Boazis the Executive Director of GFW.
Every month I will ask Dr. Frank Ochberg a PTSD related question. These are questions based on conversations I’ve had with Gift From Within Support Pals, and other trauma survivors. We will also have guest clinicians answering questions. I hope you find this exchange helpful. Please keep in mind that the info on this page and website is not a substitute for the advice given you by your own health professional and is for informational purposes only. Please check back often. If you would like to add submit a question, please contact Joyceb3955@aol.com.
Q: Dear Frank, Could you give a brief explanation of complex PTSD? How do we know if we have PTSD or Complex PTSD? Is the medication and/or therapy similar?
A: Dear Joyce, Complex PTSD is a concept first defined by Judith Herman, MD to account for the effects of prolonged, severe interpersonal stress. She was thinking about cases in which a person is captured and humiliated or is sexually victimized within the family. But it is true of victims of war and victims of household war: battered spouses. When emotional trauma is continuous and inescapable, the mind and body adapts in several ways, from stoic to tragic. People can “zone out” or, technically, dissociate. They experience an altered state of consciousness. This might, in extreme cases, develop into multiple personalities. People can abandon hope. Without yearning for dignity and freedom, they accept psychological slavery. People can love their abusers. This is called Stockholm Syndrome.
The therapy for oppression is different than the therapy for simple PTSD. It requires moving to a safe environment. It requires retraining survival instincts, once there is no real danger. The medication may be similar (anti-depressants, tranquilizers, sedatives) but medication is never enough. And therapy is never enough. It takes liberation and love and plenty of patience to emerge from complex PTSD.
For GFW free webcasts, including practical tips for military families living with combat stress and PTSDclickhere.