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Psychological InjuriesForensic Assessment, Treatment, and Law$
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William J. Koch, Kevin S. Douglas, Tonia L. Nicholls, and Melanie L. O'Neill

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195188288

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195188288.001.0001

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Definition and History of the Concept of Psychological Injury

Definition and History of the Concept of Psychological Injury

(p.3) 1 Definition and History of the Concept of Psychological Injury
Psychological Injuries

William J. Koch

Kevin S. Douglas (Contributor Webpage)

Tonia L. Nicholls

Melanie L. O'Neill

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a coherent definition of psychological injury. Psychological injuries are stress-related emotional conditions resulting from real or imagined threats or injuries that may become the subjects of personal injury litigation, workers compensation claims, criminal injury compensation, other disability claims, or human rights tribunals. Such disorders include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder (ASD), major depressive episode (MDE), substance abuse disorders, and a myriad of other less-defined anxiety and depressive reactions. It is a concept that involves harm, though harm of a primarily nonphysical nature (acknowledging that many psychological conditions have biophysical correlates). The concept also involves not only harm, but enough harm to mean that it needs to be considered by legal mechanisms. There must be interests protected; for example, the interest protected by the tort of battery is physical integrity, and the interest protected by the torts of intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress is emotional tranquility.

Keywords:   psychological injuries, stress, emotional conditions, personal injury litigation, harm

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