Reclassification of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to Post-Traumatic Stress Injury

A disorder is defined as a “disturbance in physical or mental health functions,” but Chicago-based Eugene Lipov, M.D. (developer of Stellate Ganglion Block for treatment of PTSD) and Frank Ochberg, M.D. of East Lansing, Mich. (the psychiatrist who coined ‘Stockholm Syndrome’) agree that the word “disorder,” when associated with PTSD, completely misses the mark because the condition is medically and technically a biological phenomena. In recent years, Dr. Ochberg has led a movement to drop “disorder” and replace it with “injury,” essentially rebranding the acronym as Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI).

“The reclassification is long overdue because ‘disorder’ implies a psychological condition thus not a real disease and it doesn’t actually characterize correctly what is happening in the brain of someone suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress,” said Dr. Lipov. “Dr. Ochberg and I both agree that there are significant physiological changes that take place in the brains of PTS subjects and, thus, effective therapy should include a biological component.”

Dr. Lipov, along with U.S. military physicians and other medical professionals at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, were able to demonstrate that a biologic effect of numbing the nerves in the neck via a sympathetic ganglion block treatment appears to reboot the brain to a pre-trauma state with a 72-percent success rate. The results were published in the October 2014 edition of AMSUS, Military Medicine’s International Journal.

Losing the word “disorder” would lift the stigma associated with the condition, making active duty military personnel and veterans less hesitant to seek treatment. Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D., a psychiatrist who most recently worked at the VA clinic in Boston, echoed these sentiments in remarks at the American Psychoanalytic Association meeting. No doubt that the stigma might also benefit first responders, as well as civilians who cope with the condition.

The PTSD acronym is only the latest in a long line of terms describing the same condition. (See:

Portions of this text were excerpted and paraphrased from Exit Strategy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: New Hope for Warfighters and Civilians Alike (Amazon), with the explicit consent from Dr. Eugene Lipov.


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