Psychiatry's problem child: PTSD in the forensic context (part 2).Australas Psychiatry. 2008 Apr; 16(2):109-13.AP
The aim of this paper was to consider whether the Courts in their application of Criterion A for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the civil forensic context are in harmony or in conflict with psychiatry.
Discussed are five cases from the civil forensic jurisdiction that considered plaintiffs' submissions that, as a consequence of some wrong, they suffered PTSD.
The Courts have been quite consistent in their approach to PTSD--where there has been conflicting expert evidence as to whether a plaintiff has PTSD, the stressor which brings about this disorder must be extreme (i.e. objectively life-threatening).
The Courts have been consistent in their application of Criterion A and, as such, are consistent with what the DSM-IV-TR requires before the diagnosis can be made. Such an approach ensures that merely unpleasant events, irrespective of how subjectively upsetting they may be, do not qualify for the diagnosis of PTSD. Psychiatrists, therefore, have an enormous responsibility when they provide expert evidence in relation to psychiatric issues that arise in legal matters.