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Book Cover for: Ptsd: A Short History, Allan V. Horwitz

Ptsd: A Short History

Allan V. Horwitz

Post-traumatic stress disorder--and its predecessor diagnoses, including soldier's heart, railroad spine, and shell shock--was recognized as a psychiatric disorder in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The psychic impacts of train crashes, wars, and sexual shocks among children first drew psychiatric attention. Later, enormous numbers of soldiers suffering from battlefield traumas returned from the world wars. It was not until the 1980s that PTSD became a formal diagnosis, in part to recognize the intense psychic suffering of Vietnam War veterans and women with trauma-related personality disorders. PTSD now occupies a dominant place in not only the mental health professions but also major social institutions and mainstream culture, making it the signature mental disorder of the early twenty-first century.

In PTSD, Allan V. Horwitz traces the fluctuations in definitions of and responses to traumatic psychic conditions. Arguing that PTSD, perhaps more than any other diagnostic category, is a lens for showing major historical changes in conceptions of mental illness, he surveys the conditions most likely to produce traumas, the results of those traumas, and how to evaluate the claims of trauma victims.

Illuminating a number of central issues about psychic disturbances more generally--including the relative importance of external stressors and internal vulnerabilities in causing mental illness, the benefits and costs of mental illness labels, and the influence of gender on expressions of mental disturbance--PTSD is a compact yet comprehensive survey. The book will appeal to diverse audiences, including the educated public, students across the psychological and social sciences, and trauma victims who are interested in socio-historical approaches to their condition.

Praise for Allan V. Horwitz's Anxiety: A Short History

"The definitive overview of the history of anxiety."--Bulletin of the History of Medicine

"A lucid, erudite and brisk intellectual history driven by a clear and persuasive central argument."--Social History of Medicine

"An enlightening tour of anxiety, set at a sensible pace, with an exceptional scholar and writer leading the way."--Library Journal

Book Details

  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publish Date: Sep 1st, 2018
  • Pages: 256
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 8.40in - 5.50in - 0.60in - 0.60lb
  • EAN: 9781421426396
  • Categories: NeuropsychologyHistoryUnited States - General

About the Author

Horwitz, Allan V.: - Allan V. Horwitz (PRINCETON, NJ) is the Board of Governors and Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology and the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research at Rutgers University. He is the author of DSM: A History of Psychiatry's Bible, PTSD: A Short History, Anxiety: A Short History, and Creating Mental Illness.
Praise for this book
Horwitz draws together an impressive array of work to produce a balanced and concise analysis of PTSD that will serve as an insightful guide to the nature and evolution of the disorder.
--Edgar Jones, King's College London, Bulletin of the History of Medicine
PTSD is an excellent survey: sharp, well-informed, probing and suitably skeptical of the epistemological status of a disorder that has become emblematic of our times. Horwitz is sympathetic to the suffering of trauma victims, but he is fully aware of the political, constructed nature of the underlying diagnosis, and the double-edged sword that it represents.
--Andrew Scull, PhD, University of California, San Diego, Journal of the History of Medicine & Allied Sciences
In this eminently accessible history of PTSD, Horwitz skillfully guides readers through a history of traumatic responses, seamlessly incorporating a variety of technical sources, including medical research and legal thought on compensation . . . PTSD is an important contribution to the field, offering a powerful interpretative and analytic framework to revisit a well-documented history of trauma.
--Mical Raz, University of Rochester, Journal of American History
Tracing its evolution from the mid-nineteenth century to today, Horwitz uses PTSD's distinct character as an effective wedge to open and explore deep questions regarding the relationship between culture and psychiatric diagnoses and the ways in which social, political, and economic concerns have shaped how we understand trauma. The end result is a well-written, succinct history that spins out many promising threads for future scholars to pursue. Indeed, I can think of no better introduction to PTSD. Any aspiring scholar would do well to begin her explorations into the topic here. For this reason, PTSD: A Short History takes its place among the must-reads on PTSD.
--Owen Whooley, University of New Mexico, Contemporary Sociology