Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined by the mental health system as a “disorder” caused by exposure to a severe traumatic event. The “symptoms” include nightmares, flashbacks, fear when reminded of the trauma, and avoidance of reminders of the trauma. It has also been suggested that these are the normal human responses to intense, traumatic experiences.
The medical model uses biology to explain why some people experience some of the “symptoms” of PTSD after a traumatic event, while others do not—although no such biological mechanism has been found. The psychosocial model, on the other hand, emphasizes that because of different life contexts, social supports, and other aspects of psychological well-being, no two people experience trauma the same way, and therefore it makes perfect sense that some experience life-altering avoidance and fear, while others appear to have less severe reactions.
Nonetheless, when these experiences impair the ability to live a full and purposeful life, interventions may be sought to either reduce these specific symptoms, or to re-engage with a meaningful life.