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This article reviews recent findings on Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) and proposes future research which would help to establish the nature of CPTSD in relation to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Research on survivors of torture and war has found that CPTSD can occur when there is no history of childhood abuse. fMRI studies appear to highlight differences in neural activity in individuals exhibiting primary dissociation compared with individuals exhibiting secondary dissociation.
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After the reports of human rights abuses by the US military in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, and Afghanistan, questions have been raised as to whether certain detention and interrogation procedures amount to torture.
To examine the distinction between various forms of ill treatment and torture during captivity in terms of their relative psychological impact.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted with a population-based sample of survivors of torture from Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Banja Luka in Republica Srpska, Rijeka in Croatia, and Belgrade in Serbia.

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Why are some individuals more likely than others to develop a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the face of similar levels of trauma exposure? Monitoring the traumatic process combining the antecedents, the determinants of the psychic trauma and the acute symptoms can clarify the causes of the final onset of a chronic repetition syndrome. Epidemiologic research has clarified risk factors that increase the likelihood of PTSD after exposure to a potentially traumatic event. PTSD is an interaction between a subject, a traumatogenic factor and a social context.

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Torture is a complex trauma that often occurs within the context of widespread persecution and human rights violations. In addition, the nature of modern warfare is such that whole populations are at risk of suffering extensive trauma, injustices, loss, and displacement. Refugees, in particular, experience sequential stresses that may compound each other over prolonged periods of time.

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The discovery of trauma as an aetiological factor in mental dissociation is more than a century old, but neurobiological research in the last decade has started to clarify a neurobiological basis that may shed light on the complex symptomatology observed in traumatized children. Dysfunctional stress responses, emotional-based style of functioning, hyperarousal, anxiety, irritability, impulsivity, disengaged attention and educational underachievement may thus begin to be better understood. The aim of this overview is to give an update on the concept of dissociation and the links to new neurobiological findings, hopefully to reduce unawareness, wrong diagnostics or even neglect of dissociative symptomatology by clinicians in child and adolescent psychiatry in the Nordic countries.

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