Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been an officially recognized illness since 1980 and it may be defined as the development of significant anxiety, fear, helplessness and horror after exposure (experienced or witness) to trauma, defined as an event associated with either actual or threatened death or injury to oneself or another. Individuals experience associated symptoms of detachment and loss of emotional responsivity. The patient may feel de-personalized and unable to recall specific aspects of the trauma, though typically it is re-experienced through intrusions in thoughts, dreams, or flashbacks, particularly when cues of the original event are present.
They are crippled by nightmares, outbursts of anger and hyper-vigilance and arousal, and constantly on the lookout for danger. Some try not to think about it, or avoid anyone who reminds them of the trauma. They can become withdrawn and so emotionally & psychologically numb they no longer can feel love or other intense feelings the way they did before.
Accordingly, patients often actively avoid stimuli that precipitate recollections of the trauma and demonstrate a resulting increase in vigilance, arousal and startle response.
Military combats, accidents, crime, abuse, assault, torture, divorce, bombings, fires, beatings- these experiences can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, in which the sufferer relieves the event over & over to devastating effect, sometimes many years after the incident.