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Reviews

"The eminent medical sociologist Allan Horwitz has written a splendid account of our evolving views of the psychiatric consequences of trauma. Ranging from the Civil War to the twenty-first century, Horwitz's gripping narrative documents how history and culture have shaped PTSD as much as biology has."

"Since its emergence as a mental health disorder in the 1960s, PTSD has expanded to become a diagnosis for a wide range of trauma-related problems. In this penetrating book, Allan Horwitz explores the social origins and consequences of PTSD, shining a new light on the relation of external stressors and internal vulnerabilities."

"This seminal work by Allan Horwitz provides a historical review of the controversies that preceeded psychiatry's modern day diagnosis of PTSD. In the context of sociocultural forces and timeless controversies, Horwitz brings to light the 'construction' and 'contentious history' of PTSD. Every professional who works in the field of posttraumatic stress studies and every interested layperson will benefit from reading this riveting book."

"Trauma is a recent notion whose complex history culminated at the end of the twentieth century with its translation into psychiatric nosography as PTSD. In this comprehensive biography of the new clinical category, Allan Horwitz powerfully shows how it came to be an ambiguous signature of our time, between science and victimhood."

"Horwitz draws together an impressive array of work to produce a balanced and concise analysis of PTSD that will serve as an insightful guide to the nature and evolution of the disorder."

"PTSD is an excellent survey: sharp, well-informed, probing and suitably skeptical of the epistemological status of a disorder that has become emblematic of our times. Horwitz is sympathetic to the suffering of trauma victims, but he is fully aware of the political, constructed nature of the underlying diagnosis, and the double-edged sword that it represents."

"In this eminently accessible history of PTSD, Horwitz skillfully guides readers through a history of traumatic responses, seamlessly incorporating a variety of technical sources, including medical research and legal thought on compensation... PTSD is an important contribution to the field, offering a powerful interpretative and analytic framework to revisit a well-documented history of trauma."

"Tracing its evolution from the mid-nineteenth century to today, Horwitz uses PTSD's distinct character as an effective wedge to open and explore deep questions regarding the relationship between culture and psychiatric diagnoses and the ways in which social, political, and economic concerns have shaped how we understand trauma. The end result is a well-written, succinct history that spins out many promising threads for future scholars to pursue. Indeed, I can think of no better introduction to PTSD. Any aspiring scholar would do well to begin her explorations into the topic here. For this reason, PTSD: A Short History takes its place among the must-reads on PTSD."