Traumatic memories are sometimes relived every day and sometimes they are pushed to the back of the mind and come forward when a trigger memory brings that trauma back to the forefront. The DSM-III, DSM-IV, and the newest: DSM-V all acknowledge traumatic disorder as PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder).
The DSM series of publications are available for psychologists and psychiatrists to help guide them toward accurate and effective diagnoses of numerous psychological disorders. In 1980, the DSM-III was the first revision of the DSM that gave a name to the disorder that comes with trauma.
For example, there are those who live day to day experiencing and witnessing (and even sometimes creating) trauma during their tours of duty in war zones. Combat veterans live in a world of trauma, running from mortar rounds, seeing death and destruction, and pulling their M-16-a1 rifle on a potential enemy. Not being given an opportunity to release their memories, or to escape the trauma, servicemen and women push those events to the back of their mind so they can go forward. The military servicemen and women are a strong and capable breed, but even they are human beings.
Once these veterans return from war they may or may not be able to rejoin civilian life without a second thought. Some veterans, a great percentage of them, do not even remember that they witnessed some of the terrible things.
After all, who wants to remember those kinds of events? From Vietnam to OEF/OIF (Operation enduring freedom/Operation Iraqi freedom), the enemy has changed, the mentality of the soldier, airman, sailor, and Marine has changed.
They may be desensitized to “Freddie Krueger” but that does not make them desensitized to the terrible things they saw in real life. The events that they pushed to the back of their minds comes to the front while they are asleep, or while they are standing in a line; maybe they heard a car backfire, or a stranger came at them suddenly.
If any of those trigger events, or others, occur, the calm and cool combat veteran may become a dangerous person, hell-bent on keeping themselves safe from the terrors that are now only in their mind.
Keeping the above example in mind, one must also remember that there are some who would cheat the system and try to take advantage of the Veterans Administration, try to circumvent the system, and pretend to have lived this trauma. In psychology, this term is called “malingering” (feigning symptoms of physical or emotional disorder). Most veterans who are seeking compensation are doing so because they need help from their government, but not everyone is honest, unfortunately, and they try to find ways to take advantage.
Luckily, all people who have experienced a trauma and report it can undergo a few self-reporting tests and some comfortable interviews that will help to keep many of those who wish to malinger away from such benefits, whether it is for a law suit or for compensation.
Beware, however, of the unscrupulous attorney! They have the knowledge, the means, and the resources to help their clients to fool those personal self-reporting inventories. These inventories also help the person suffering to be guided toward proper diagnosis and treatment available. Some people who experience a trauma do not suffer from PTSD but rather they may have a form of anxiety, instead.
In any event, a person who experienced a trauma may or may not be reliving those problems in the future. Those who do need to seek help as soon as they notice a change in their behavior. The other ones may have to just look for a job and assimilate back into society from their traumatic experience. Fortunately, there is a great deal of promise that most individuals who suffer from PTSD can recover and learn to cope with what they’ve experienced, and live relatively normal lives.
*All contents of article come from previous educational access during Psychology Graduate School: My personal knowledge and education.