Definition and History of the Concept of Psychological Injury
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.
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