chapter  1
8 Pages

Introduction

At various points in time, “skeptics” have asserted that there really is no foundation for the diagnosis of traumatic stress and that the diagnosis is a “sociopolitical” construction. In more recent controversies, there have been questions about whether the mental health ¢eld should focus on victims or perpetrators and whether the goals of treatment, particularly in cases of interpersonal trauma, are related to the identi¢cation of legal responsibility for damages or helping victims without regard to how the treatment is associated with the legal system. In part, the involvement of mental health providers in the legal system led to the famous “memory wars” that led to both positive and negative outcomes in trauma research. (See Brewin 2003, for a more complete discussion of the debate.) On the positive side, there were a number of cautions regarding practice that resulted from a careful examination of our scienti¢c knowledge of memory. While this information was critical to the

¢eld, many other areas of research in trauma were put on hold while the battle over memory played out. It has even been suggested that some academics changed the focus of their research in order to avoid the heated controversy. It is worth noting that for the majority of trauma survivors, memory for the event is not in question, and the memory issues were germane only in the debates around survivors of child sexual abuse. Discussion of this debate may seem tangential to this book; however, when we discuss retraumatization, there are many instances in which child abuse is the ¢rst trauma experience and thus becomes part of the research and clinical analysis.