A skirmish has been brewing between U.S. Army brass and a seemingly unlikely interlocutor -- the American Psychiatric Association (APA) -- over a possible name change for combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the mental illness that has afflicted hundreds of thousands of American soldiers.
But now indications of a possible compromise have emerged, even as the issue has triggered a wide-ranging debate among mental health professionals.
Some Army officers and mental health advocates have been calling for a change in the “PTSD” moniker on the basis that calling it a “disorder” is stigmatizing soldiers and preventing them from getting the help they need. Initial indications were that the 167-year-old APA -- which is in the process of updating diagnostic standards for PTSD and other conditions -- felt the affliction should continue to be termed a disorder, based on traditional medical definitions and precedents.
However, Dr. John Oldham, the group’s president, said in an interview last week that he would be open to the suggestion of changing the name if it would help encourage those who have it to seek help.
“If it turns out that that [the word ‘injury’] could be a less uncomfortable term and would facilitate people who need help getting it, and it didn't have unintended consequences that we would have to be sure to try to think about, we would certainly be open to thinking about it,” Oldham told the NewsHour in a telephone interview last week.