Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. Naomi Breslau, Henry Ford Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, 2799 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48202.
Stressors: Continuous and Discontinuous
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 20, Issue 20, pages 1666–1673, November 1990
How to Cite
Breslau, N. (1990), Stressors: Continuous and Discontinuous. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 20: 1666–1673. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1990.tb01501.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
DSM-III defined PTSD as a syndrome that follows exposure to a special class of stressors, that is, events that are outside the range of usual human experience. The definition of the PTSD stressor in DSM-III is ambiguous: It is unclear if it depends on a quantitative or qualitative difference. Furthermore, although a body of literature had described psychologic reactions to war and civilian catastrophes, there was at the time little empirical support for a strong and unique association between the PTSD symptom cluster and a special class of stressors. The revised definition of PTSD in DSM-III-R has not clarified the PTSD stressor criterion. However, changes were made in the criterial symptoms. Symptoms of avoidance were moved from the “Miscellaneous” to the “Numbing” category. The change was not based on empirical evidence; it was based instead on an untested psychologic paradigm about traumatic neurosis. Suggestions are made for future research to test the assumptions embedded in the PTSD definition.