From the Editor

From the Editor

By Rich Simon

November/December 2010

I can still remember sitting in a workshop at the American Orthopsychiatric Association conference in Chicago in 1982 and feeling dumbstruck. The presenters were describing a then-new psychiatric diagnosis—post-traumatic stress disorder—that had debuted just two years earlier in the DSM-III. Of course, I'd read enough and seen enough movies to understand that "war is hell," but a lucky lottery pick had kept me out of Vietnam, and, at the time, I didn't know personally anyone who'd served there. As the presenters vividly connected the dots linking the horrors of combat and the widespread drug addiction, alcoholism, violence, homelessness, and suicide among thousands and thousands of Vietnam vets, the other therapists in the audience seemed as stunned and transfixed as I was. We could no longer ignore the reality that for far more soldiers than we could ever have imagined, the nightmare of the war continued to live on for years after the actual life-and-death experience of combat was over.

Now, three decades later, no area in the field of mental health has received more attention than PTSD and other reactions to traumatic events. Once invisible, it's now so engrained in our cultural lexicon that it can even seem that it's applied sometimes to everybody who's ever had a bad day.

With all the great strides in the science, treatment, and public acceptance of PTSD in the past 30 years, you might think that the mental health field would be fully prepared to…

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