Part one: What is Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD)? by Shirley Davis | Sep 3, 2019 | CPTSD Research, What is CPTSD

Pixabay: geralt



Most people have heard of post-traumatic stress disorder that afflicts many men and women returning from a war zone.

It is characterized by flashbacks, unstable mood, and survivor’s remorse. However, many have never heard of a condition that often develops in childhood and changes the course of the child’s life forever, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD).

For a good definition of CPTSD, we turned to Beauty After Bruises, an organization that offers outreach focused on adult survivors of childhood trauma who have complex PTSD with or without the presence of a dissociative disorder.

Their definition of complex post-traumatic stress disorder as follows:

“Complex PTSD comes in response to chronic traumatization over the course of months or, more often, years.

This can include emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuses, domestic violence, living in a war zone, being held captive, human trafficking, and other organized rings of abuse, and more.

While there are exceptional circumstances where adults develop C-PTSD, it is most often seen in those whose trauma occurred in childhood.

For those who are older, being at the complete control of another person (often unable to meet their most basic needs without them), coupled with no foreseeable end in sight, can break down the psyche, the survivor’s sense of self, and affect them on this deeper level.

For those who go through this as children, because the brain is still developing and they’re just beginning to learn who they are as an individual, understand the world around them, and build their first relationships – severe trauma interrupts the entire course of their psychologic and neurologic development.”

CPTSD forms in response to repeated interpersonal violence that leaves the victim, a child or adult, feeling trapped with no hope of escape or of imminent death.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a developmental trauma disorder (DTD) which is wildly different than post-traumatic stress disorder that normally, but not always, forms in adulthood.



4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by rudid96 on April 19, 2021 at 10:34 pm

    It’s very understandable that a child at the formative stages of life is more than a little vulnerable to developing C-PTSD. However, and this is only my uneducated, experiential opinion, developing C-PTSD as an adult occurs more than this article would suggest. Personally, what I can recall of my childhood home formed a fertile ground for C-PTSD. There were just enough positive adults to keep me from going under. However, that ‘fertile ground’ of neglect, regular intermittent violence, and emotional abuse was enough that led to living as an adult with C-PTSD. There’s so much to unlearn, relearn, and reparent. It seems that this malady has left a chasm of loneliness that can’t be filled.

  2. There’s so much to unlearn, relearn, and reparent. It seems that this malady has left a chasm of loneliness that can’t be filled.

    I agree with this

    Whether we are having episodes or working to heal or trying calm the triggers, it persists at times

    My ptsd has perplexed me these last few months

    All my work all my effort has not tamed the beast

  3. thank you. I’m just starting to learn about CPTSD and it has been hugely helpful!

  4. CPTSD has controlled my entire adult life. I’m thankful it is getting more spotlight and more people learning about it recently

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