Developments in Psychotraumatology: A Conceptual, Biological, and Cultural Update


  • Andreas Maercker Orcid
  • Mareike Augsburger


Background: This report discusses recent developments of psychotraumatology mainly related to the recently published ICD-11, but also from a societal point of view.
Methods: The selected aspects of the development of this field will be presented as a scoping review.
Results: In the first section, the new concept of disorders specifically associated with stress and its relevant diagnostic groups (posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], complex PTSD, prolonged grief disorder, and adjustment disorder) are presented, with an emphasis on PTSD. The second section embeds these diagnostic concepts within a broader context. In particular, the concept of psychotraumatology is applied to the impact of adverse childhood experiences. More specifically, recent scientific developments are discussed with respect to biological stress research. In a third section, a global perspective is applied that reflects psychotraumatology as embedded in culturally-specific concepts. Lastly, societal developments are taken into consideration. This section focusses on recent processes of victim acknowledgement and compensation taking place in Europe and beyond. Examples are provided for how traumatic stress is perceived and processed in society. Concepts such as continuous stress and historical trauma are also discussed.
Conclusion: Demands and opportunities of basic research and psychological interventions with a global focus are outlined.