The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice

Objective Investigations of Controversial and Unorthodox Claims in Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry, and Social Work


Traumatic Events, Criterion Creep, and the
Creation of Pretraumatic Stress Disorder

Gerald M. Rosen - University of Washington

Author Note:
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Gerald M. Rosen, 205 Eastlake Center, 2825 Eastlake Ave. East, Seattle, WA 98102. E-mail:

The linkage of a defined class of traumatic events (Criterion A) with a specified set of symptoms (Criteria B through D) is central to the conceptual foundations of posttraumatic stress disorder. Over the years there has been “conceptual bracket creep” (McNally, 2003) in which an ever-widening field of adverse events is subsumed under Criterion A. In a recent demonstration of this point, Avina and O’Donohue (2002) proposed that nontraumatic events can lead to PTSD as a consequence of the expectation of future trauma. This proposal creates the conceptual equivalent of “pretraumatic” stress disorder, and moves one bracket closer toward rendering the construct of PTSD meaningless.

You can read the full text of this article in
The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, vol. 3, no. 2 (Fall/Winter 2004-05).
Subscribe now!

  ©2004 Center for Inquiry    | SRMHP Home | About SRMHP | Contact Us |