It’s PTSI — Not PTSD

Let’s remove the stigma associated with “disorder” and save lives.

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With great passion and determination, Dr. Eugene Lipov advocates for “PTSI” (short for post-traumatic stress injury) to replace the clinical diagnosis of PTSD, (post-traumatic stress disorder). He, along with many other leaders, within the medical community and beyond, believe that a successful change in the labeling of the condition will help remove the stigma that comes with the diagnosis — and, it will save lives in the process.

In 2016, Dr. Lipov allied himself with two of the leading voices calling for this change, Dr. Frank Ochberg, and four-star U.S. Army General (Retired), Peter William Chiarelli. Recently, Dr. Lipov led a peer-reviewed study that explored the potential impact of this name change. The survey assessed participants’ opinions on whether renaming PTSD to PTSI would reduce stigma and improve their hope and likelihood of seeking medical help. In September 20023, he submitted the latest proposal to the American Psychiatric Association, lobbying for the change in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Dr. Frank Ochberg is a founding father of modern psychotraumatology. He defined Stockholm Syndrome in the 1970s for FBI and Scotland Yard negotiators. In 1980, he was on the committee that originally defined “PTSD” (for post-traumatic stress) as an operational diagnosis. Over the years, though, his thoughts about the condition evolved. Informed by further study and advances in technology, he concluded that severe trauma is not a “disorder,” but rather a physical “injury,” and in the 1990s, he started the push to replace the “D” with an “I” — coining the term “PTSI.”

U.S. Army General (Retired), Peter William Chiarelli spent nearly 40 years of his life serving others while in the U.S. Army. As commander of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, he coordinated the actions of all four military services and was responsible for the day-to-day combat operations of more than 147,000 U.S. and Coalition troops. While serving as the 32nd Vice Chief of Staff in the Army from 2008 to 2012, Chiarelli was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Army and its 1.1 million active and reserve soldiers. It was during this time that General Chiarelli led the Department of Defense efforts on post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and suicide prevention. Out of concerns for stigma, he began using the term “post-traumatic stress,” dropping the word “disorder” from the medical name post-traumatic stress disorder. His term had subsequently become standard use in the armed forces, but was not taken up by the medical community. In a 2011 interview with PBS NewsHour, Chiarelli said that the term “disorder” perpetuates a bias against the condition and “has the connotation of being something that [was] a pre-existing problem” for an individual before enlisting in the Army, adding that the label “makes the person seem weak.” He continued, “It seems clear to me that we should get rid of the ‘D’ if that is in any way inhibiting people from getting the help they need,” Chiarelli said. Calling it an injury instead of a disorder “would have a huge impact,” encouraging soldiers suffering from the condition to seek help.

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It’s about time! is a collaborative effort between Dr. Eugene Lipov and his team, along with Erase PTSD Now! (a 5013c non-profit). It’s mission is to facilitate a change to the label of post-traumatic stress from “PTSD” to “PTSI.” Successfully persuading the American Psychiatric Association to change the diagnosis is key, but shifting the way society and thinks and talks about post-traumatic stress must occur, too. Thus, the website seeks to bolster  the campaign by evolving into a de facto clearinghouse to educate the general public of a movement for change that began, at least, 15 years ago.

Dr. Lipov is the Medical Advisor at Erase PTSD Now , the organization the produced the PSA above. He encourages folks who can, to donate to the organization to support its mission of funding/coordinating life-saving treatment for those most in need.