BLACK VOICES
05/22/2013 09:13 am ET

Can Racism Cause PTSD? Implications For DSM-5

Alamy

Allen was a young African American man working at a retail store. Although he enjoyed and valued his job, he struggled with the way he was treated by his boss. He was frequently demeaned, given menial tasks, and even required to track African American customers in the store to make sure they weren’t stealing. He began to suffer from symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety, low self-esteem, and feelings of humiliation. After filing a complaint, he was threatened by his boss and then fired. Allen’s symptoms worsened. He had intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and jumpiness – all hallmarks of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Allen later sued his employer for job-related discrimination, and five employees supported his allegations. Allen was found to be suffering from race-based trauma (from Carter & Forsyth, 2009).

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