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J Trauma Stress. 2007 Apr;20(2):107-21.

The Criterion A problem revisited: controversies and challenges in defining and measuring psychological trauma.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA.


The Criterion A problem in the field of traumatic stress refers to the stressor criterion for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and involves a number of fundamental issues regarding the definition and measurement of psychological trauma. These issues first emerged with the introduction of PTSD as a diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III; American Psychiatric Association, 1980) and continue to generate considerable controversy. In this article, the authors provide an update on the Criterion A problem, with particular emphasis on the evolution of the DSM definition of the stressor criterion and the ongoing debate regarding broad versus narrow conceptualizations of traumatic events.

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