Developmental Trauma Disorder
A new, rational diagnosis for children with complex trauma histories.
Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
Research has shown that traumatic childhood experiences not only are extremely common but also
have a profound impact on many different areas of functioning. The Complex Trauma taskforce of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network has been concerned about the need for a more precise diagnosis for children with complex histories. In an attempt to more clearly delineate what these children suffer from and to serve as a guide for rational therapeutics this taskforce has started to conceptualize a new diagnosis provisionally called developmental trauma disorder. This proposed diagnosis is organized around the issue of triggered dysregulation in response to traumatic reminders, stimulus generalization, and the anticipatory organization of behavior to prevent the recurrence of the trauma effects.