The American Psychiatric Association is currently in the process of updating the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) for Mental Disorders the so called dictionary of mental illnesses. Military personnel are urging the editors to rename Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) in order to remove the stigma associated with the condition.
According to the recently retired Army’s vice chief of staff, by referring to the mental and emotional impact of warfare as a ‘disorder’ encourages biases indicating that the an individual has a predisposed weakness or susceptibility to being ‘traumatised’, subsequently individuals may distance themselves from such as diagnosis. He argues that by calling it an ‘injury’ people will be more inclined to report symptoms and seek help.
Other schools of thought argue that some service men and women are more likely to suffer from PTSD as a result of their experiences and therefore the current classification is relevant.
Currently, it is believed that as many as 1 in 5 military personnel are suffering from PTSD with many not disclosing the fact. Dr. Frank Ochberg, a clinical professor of psychiatry has reportedly written to the president of the American Psychiatric Association arguing that the physiology of the brain has been injured by external events and therefore PTSD should not be an anxiety or depression disorder that arises as a result of exposure to tragedy of traumatic realities.
A Veterans Affairs psychologist recently proposed the concept of a “moral injury” as a type of PTSD. This indicates that the brain can become morally injured as a result of partaking in events that “transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.” It was argued that this specifically includes killing, despite it being within the legitimate laws of war.
It is thought that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will not be renamed in time for the next edition of the DSM due to be released in May 2013 but it has not been ruled out.