PTSD Expert Witness Testifies On Clinical Criteria

Post traumatic stress expert witness Mitchell Clionsky testified for the defense in the Springfield, MA, lawsuit against nightclub owner Demetrious Konstantopoulos. Cara Lyn Crncic alleges that a 2011 assault by Konstantopoulos has caused her to suffer from PTSD. However, the psychology expert testified that the defendant’s actions were not violent or threatening enough to meet standards for PTSD and that other incidents in Crncis’s life are contributors to her anxiety. Dr. Clionsky is the Director at Clionsky Neuro Systems, Inc. in Springfield, Massachusetts. He testified that a diagnosis of PTSD must meet clinical criteria.

The National Institute of Mental Health explains PTSD:

PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who develops PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers.

PTSD was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.

Currently, many scientists are focusing on genes that play a role in creating fear memories. Understanding how fear memories are created may help to refine or find new interventions for reducing the symptoms of PTSD.

Signs & Symptoms PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three categories:

1. Re-experiencing symptoms • Flashbacks-reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating • Bad dreams • Frightening thoughts.
Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.

2. Avoidance symptoms • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience • Feeling emotionally numb • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.
Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

3. Hyperarousal symptoms • Being easily startled • Feeling tense or “on edge”
• Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.
Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.