Timeline

  • 1678: PTSD symptoms first identified by a Swiss physician as “Nostalgia”; other terms followed in Germany, France, and Spain
  • Early 1700s: French surgeon Larrey described the disorder as having three stages: heightened exciement, physical symptoms, and frustration and depression
  • 1861: Disorder documented as “soldier’s heart” or “exhausted heart” by military physicians during the U.S. Civil War
  • 1863: First military hospital for the insane established
  • 1905: “Battle shock” was treated as a legitimate medical condition by the Japanese
  • 1914: The term, ‘shell shock’ came into use during WWI, when soldier’s psychological distress was attributed to concussions caused by shells. Freud termed the condition, “war neurosis”
  • 1918: At the end of WWI, “shell shock” was attributed to emotional rater than physical injuries, but it was still believed that certain “weak” soldiers were predisposed to it. Efforts turned to using psychiatric assessments to screen out draftees who were beleived to be predisposed to psychological casualties
  • 1939-1945: The tremendous psychological toll of WWII forced psychiatrists to acknowledge that psychological weakness had less to do with “combat neurosis” than previously belived. By the end of WWII, terminology changed to “combat exhaustion,” reflecting a subtle movement away from psychopathology
  • 1980: PTSD added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-III (APA, 1980)

 

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