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Integr Physiol Behav Sci. 1996 Jul-Sep;31(3):237-53.

Stages of decompensation in combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder: a new conceptual model.

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  • 1VA Medical Center, West Haven, CT 06516, USA.


This conceptual article presents a model of severe, chronic combat-related PTSD based on several years of longitudinal clinical observations of Vietnam veterans. The model describes a repeating cycle of decompensation that profoundly disrupts the veteran's life. There appear to be "stages" of decompensation that can be described clinically and may be distinct physiologically. The stages describe a wide range of functioning, from adaptive to totally dysfunctional PTSD core symptoms, as well as several other dimensions of clinical functioning, such as affect regulation, defenses, ego states, interactions with the environment, capacity for self-destruction/suicide and capacity for attachment and insight are described for each stage. Clinical and research implications are discussed.

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