Complex psychological trauma as a consequence of extreme stress



The article presents a brief review of the concept of complex psychological trauma transformations over thirty years, which occurred since the moment when the term Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) was proposed as a clinical syndrome of multiple psychological traumatization to its official recognition as a diagnostic construct. The article analyzes the dynamics of ideas about the causes and the nature of psychological trauma manifestations under the influence of extreme stress factors, which is reflected in the current nomenclatures of mental and somatic disorders. A comparative analysis of the specific characteristics of various types of psychological traumas that intersect with the term complex PTSD in the conceptual field of trauma psychology is presented. The basic characteristics of complex psychological trauma that distinguish it from similar terms are defined, and the ways of further research in this direction are outlined.

General Information

Keywords: complex psychological trauma, extreme stress, stressful mental disorder, complex PTSD, developmental trauma, interpersonal trauma.

Journal rubric: Medical Psychology

Article type: review article


For citation: Ekimova V.I., Luchnikova E.P. Complex psychological trauma as a consequence of extreme stress [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia psikhologiia = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2020. Vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 50–61. DOI: 10.17759/jmfp.2020090105. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Valentina I. Ekimova, Doctor of Psychology, professor of the department of scientific bases of extremal psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Elena P. Luchnikova, Master Student, Chair of Scientific Basis of Extreme Psychology, Department of Extreme Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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