Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has its believers and non-believers, but the balance appears to be moving in favour of the former. Despite numerous descriptions of the disorder since the First World War (and before), it was not a formally recognised clinical diagnosis until fairly recently.
The increased number of victims of violence within our society, including political refugees and the victims of the recent bomb attacks in London, places PTSD at the centre of the current health and political agendas. All of this makes this book more than welcome, as it responds to the clear need for understanding, training and clinical guidelines.
This book introduces the reader to the concept of PTSD, mainly from the medical/clinical point of view and includes some observations about the psychosocial dimensions. We are offered a summary of the majority of well-conducted randomised clinical trials of its treatment modalities, both psychotherapeutic and pharmacological, both in adults and children, in whom its presentation is less well described. It covers disaster planning (very topical) and early intervention, and makes recommendations for future research. Furthermore, there is a very moving and enlightening chapter dedicated to the views and experiences of sufferers and carers from different backgrounds.
It is important to note, however, that anyone looking to gain a thorough understanding of more complex and severe cases of PTSD will not find it here. The main research trials select populations of the more simple cases of trauma - this might be owing to the costs, length and complexity of including studies of the more complicated and severe clinical cases. This book also misses the opportunity to satisfy the reader’s curiosity in relation to newer treatments for PTSD such as eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), which is briefly described but only from the perspective of cognitive-behavioural therapy, which predominates in this book.
As a summary of current trends and practices, however, this book is invaluable. It will be useful to a range of health and non-health workers, including general practitioners, psychiatric services, children’s services, psychotherapists, and others within the National Health Service and non-statutory services.
- © 2006 Royal College of Psychiatrists