Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition from which nearly 10% of

Americans suffer. It, unlike other afflictions, is associated with a wide

variety of circumstances. Many war veterans suffer from Posttraumatic Stress

Disorder. However, a new group of people are quickly emerging as common suffers

of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder-sexually abused children. Posttraumatic Stress

Disorder is a prevalent problem associated with children who are victims of

sexual assault.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder under

the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders (DSM-III). The diagnoses for

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder was not formally diagnosed as part of DSM-III

until 1980. According to Famolaro, "the diagnoses of Posttraumatic Stress

Disorder requires: (a) experience of a significant traumatic events; (b) re-

experiencing of the trauma in one of several different thought, emotional, or

behavioral forms; (d) persistent symptoms of increased arousal, Particularly

when exposedto stimuli concretely or symbolically reminiscent of the trauma; (e)

symptoms lasting at least one month. (Famolaro, Maternal and Child

Posttraumatic... 28)".

Children are now becoming realized as significant sufferers of

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is particularly

bad for children under the age of 11, because they lack many of the skills

needed to protect themselves. Furthermore, this vulnerability is enhanced when

the child is exposed to any maltreatment. According to recent studies,

"Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a common sequella of severe or chronic

maltreatment of children, particularly among sexually maltreated children (

Famularo, Symptom Differences... 28)". Posttraumatic Stress Disorder can be

caused if the child is exposed to just one traumatic episode (rape, witnessing a

violent crime, physical abuse); However, the child will become more susceptible

to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder if the maltreatment continues. Moreover, a

child is most likely to suffer from symptoms associated with Posttraumatic

Stress Disorder when sexual assault is involved(28).

Because children have not yet developed cognitively emotionally and are

very immature, they are likely candidates to develop symptoms related to

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. As a child matures he/she becomes better

equipped to deal with and prevent contributing factors to the eventual suffering

from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Up to age two, young children can recreate

stressful events and even imagine such events recurring; However, the mind is

not developed enough to identify, anticipate, or prevent future traumatic

occurrences. At age three, children cannot, "distance themselves, in time,

appreciate roles and differences in behavior, access situation, or adopt

nonegocentric causality (Saigh 189)". This flaw opens them up to the impact of

trauma because the child cannot anticipate and protect themselves. By age four,

children have the ability to protect themselves by avoiding traumatic encounters.

They also have the ability to suppress their anxiety when it becomes difficult

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