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Although the diagnosis of Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was officially created in 1980, the phenomenon was described as early as 1666 when Samuel Pepys wrote that six months after he survived the great fire of London that “it is strange to think how to this very day, I cannot sleep a night without great terrors of the fire; and this very night could not sleep to almost two in the morning through great terrors of the fire” (quoted in Daly 1983, p.66).

PTSD lends itself to litigation. It is, by definition, incident specific, thus creating the impression that multiple causations seen in most other psychological disorders does not exist when PTSD is alleged. The allegations that a claimant is suffering from PTSD are relatively easy to assert but difficult to defend because the symptoms are subjective.

In litigation, it is quite common to find the diagnosis of PTSD made without any attempt to follow the diagnostic criteria for this disorder or to obtain other sources of information, such as objective psychological tests. In order to obtain needed information from which to derive reliable and valid conclusions about PTSD and its impact, Dr. Coard follows a six-step forensic psychology assessment process:

Performance of a standard, comprehensive clinical examination that focuses on family and developmental history as well as on pre-event and post-event factors related to current functioning.
Use of a validated diagnostic interview specifically developed for the assessment of PTSD.
Use of a structured diagnostic interview that provides an opportunity to explore the range of possible diagnoses that may be applicable to the individual.
Use of general personality questionnaires to provide information on broad psychological functioning.
Administration of specific tests that directly measure PTSD and its associated clinical features.
Inclusion of measures of social role functioning to determine the extent of social and vocational impairment.
Inclusion of measures to detect malingering and symptom exaggeration.

Evaluation  of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder