Critical Incident, Critical Incident Stress, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Definitions and Underlying Neurobiological Processes
This chapter gives definitions and metaphorical illustrations of the terms critical incident (CI) and critical incident stress reactions (CIS). The distinct and clear definition is a premise of defining and constructing all further critical incident stress management (CISM) modules. Crucial aspects in dealing with CISM are the description and the definition of the CI itself. The situation of a CI goes beyond normal, common experiences and, therefore, the people affected find themselves in an extremely stressful condition. While CIS are a normal survival mechanism, post traumatic stress disorder is the pathogen manifestation of CIS which were not sufficiently coped with. In order to understand why CIS are considered as normal reactions to an abnormal event, it might be helpful to give an insight into the underlying neurobiological mechanisms. The psychological and physical reactions are initiated by neurobiological pathways and can be considered normal reactions to an abnormal event.