International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Remarks on Receiving the ISTSS Lifetime Achievement Award

Posted 1 December 2006 in StressPoints by Louis Crocq, MD, PhD

The following is an excerpt from the acceptance speech of ISTSS Lifetime Achievement Award winner Louis Crocq, MD, PhD, at the 22nd Annual Meeting awards ceremony.

I am greatly honored to have been selected for the ISTSS Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. I would like to express my thanks to the 2006 Award Committee, to the ISTSS board and to all ISTSS members, who reward 53 years of my professional life.

As a young army doctor, I began treating soldiers with traumatic stress in 1953. At that time, war neurosis was hardly known outside military psychiatry.

Public opinion honored soldiers with physical wounds, but cared little for those with psychological wounds, who lived in shame whether in the military personnel or in civilian life.

In 1945, the world celebrated the return of peace and went back to its peacetime routine. In this process, the distress of psychological casualties was easily forgotten. These survivors were confronted with the indifference of their fellow citizens, which inflicted a second trauma. This resulted in unhealed wounds, constricted personalities and missed destinies.

It is only at the end of the Vietnam War, in 1973, that war neuroses were recognized as such, and that their consequences were identified as a major societal issue.

Finally, post-Vietnam syndromes led to the diagnosis of PTSD in 1980. Later, the scope of PTSD was extended to encompass peacetime trauma: disasters, accidents and violent attacks, and terrorism.

ISTSS was created in 1985; ALFEST (the French ISTSS affiliate) was created in 1990; and ESTSS (the European affiliate) in 1991, followed by the Australasian Traumatic Stress Society. Today, these societies bring together more than 10,000 psychiatrists and psychologists who specialize in the study and treatment of trauma, and are engaged throughout the world alleviating the distress of trauma victims.

Let us hope that ISTSS will continue developing and that young colleagues will continue our task around the world, to treat the suffering generated by modern violence.