The criterion a problem revisited: Controversies and challenges in defining and measuring psychological trauma



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.