Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma with lack or loss of control, disempowerment, and in the context of either captivity or entrapment, i.e. the lack of a viable escape route for the victim. C-PTSD is distinct from, but similar to, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Difficulties regulating emotions, including symptoms such as persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, or covert anger.
- Variations in consciousness, such as forgetting traumatic events (i.e., psychogenic amnesia), reliving traumatic events, or having episodes of dissociation (during which one feels detached from one’s mental processes or body).
- Changes in self-perception, such as a chronic and pervasive sense of helplessness, shame, guilt, stigma, and a sense of being completely different from other human beings.
- Varied changes in the perception of the perpetrator, such as attributing total power to the perpetrator or becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, including a preoccupation with revenge.
- Alterations in relations with others, including isolation, distrust, or a repeated search for a rescuer.
- Loss of, or changes in, one’s system of meanings, which may include a loss of sustaining faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair.
The most informative book on Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith Herman.