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Qual Health Res. 2009 Oct;19(10):1456-65. doi: 10.1177/1049732309348370.

From trauma to PTSD: beliefs about sensations, symptoms, and mental illness.

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  • 1Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.


Despite the ongoing debate about its legitimacy as a diagnostic entity, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continues to be the prevailing model for posttrauma suffering in Western societies. In this article, we examine how U.S. veterans came to conceptualize their posttrauma suffering as reflecting the mental disorder of PTSD. We describe the criteria veterans used to evaluate the potential clinical importance of their posttrauma reactions, and the process by which they came to label these reactions as PTSD. Difficulties that veterans experienced in evaluating their posttrauma reactions and in labeling them as PTSD mirror issues that have been raised about the diagnosis of PTSD in the professional literature.

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