May 1, 2008
The events most in my mind at the moment are the unfolding disasters in Burma and China. It is hard to imagine a single incident in Burma which has already led to the death of over twenty three thousand people (the official figure) let alone the possibility that the final death toll may be over one hundred thousand. As I write this, people are continuing to die for lack of food, clean water and shelter.
According to the latest reports in China, tens of thousands of people have been killed, and many more are missing or trapped by debris. As usual in these situations, Greg Leskin, Web site editor has posted information on our Web site including how to make a donation to one of the disaster relief funds.
ISTSS continues to be very active in a wide range of areas. There is simply too much going on to offer a comprehensive list but here are some examples. We submitted a written response in the public consultation for the NIMH strategic plan. We have continued to support our UN representatives, Yael Danieli, Joyce Braak and Elizabeth Carll, by joining in with recent key policy initiatives on poverty and the importance of gender equality in mental health. ISTSS Vice President Ulrich Schnyder has recently returned from Japan where he was invited to give the keynote lecture at the Japanese Society for Traumatic Stress Studies annual meeting in Fukuoka, at the same time helping to strengthen the relationship between ISTSS and JSTSS. ISTSS was represented, by Ellen Gerrity, at the NIMH Professional Coalition for Research Progress meeting where the speakers included Bob Ursano talking on “PTSD and Traumatic Stress: Public Health and Disasters, War, and Trauma”. At the instigation of Diane Elmore, Chair of the ISTSS Public Policy Committee, ISTSS is co-sponsoring, with the APA, a forthcoming congressional briefing on the mental health needs of service members/veterans and their families; ISTSS Past President Bonnie Green will be moderator for this event.
We continue, therefore, to be a lively and active organisation continuing the pioneering work that has driven many of us to become involved in this field. President-Elect Patti Resick is starting to plan for her presidency and has set up a dedicated email address expressly to facilitate member access. She would like to hear from anyone with opinions or suggestions about the ISTSS, its organizational structure, its products and projects or the annual conference. She would like us to consider how to mentor people to move into leadership positions. If anyone would like to become more involved in the organization but doesn’t know how, she would like to hear from them.
The American Psychiatric Association has recently published further information about the processes involved in preparing for DSM-V. This is a crucial time for those of us in the trauma field. What changes to the diagnosis of PTSD will there be in this revision? More importantly, perhaps, for the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, how will the full range of reactions to trauma, including co-morbidities, be codified? The new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is scheduled for publication in 2012 and there are thirteen work groups active at the moment. The Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum, Posttraumatic, and Dissociative Disorders work group is chaired by Katharine Phillips, an invited speaker at the ISTSS Annual Meeting in Chicago this year. I am pleased to report that the work group also includes several members of the Society including ISTSS Past President Matt Friedman and ISTSS Lifetime Achievement Award winner Bob Ursano.
I continue to be engaged in the forthcoming symposium in London on June 16th to coincide with the mid-year Board meeting. This promises to be an exciting development for ISTSS and an opportunity for Board members to share some of their experience and knowledge outside the constraints of the annual meeting. ESTSS President Jonathan Bisson and I have also been invited to give keynote addresses at the EMDR-Europe conference the preceding weekend.
The Annual Meeting (November 13-15) is continuing to take shape, under its program chair Jane Herlihy. There have been some excellent submissions and these are midway through the peer review process at the moment. In keeping with the theme of the meeting, Terror and its Aftermath, there will be an invited panel, convened by Yael Danieli, on Trauma and Reparative Justice. Katharine Phillips will introduce the day-long track on DSM-V and will outline some of the key considerations that are guiding its development - such as attention to gender and cross-cultural issues, developmental considerations, and the psychiatric/general medical interface. This will be followed by a series of invited sessions, each with short scientific presentations by leading experts on specific themes, and ample time for audience participation and discussion. Finally, I am pleased to report that we have an outstanding list of Master Clinicians this year, including John Briere, Richard Bryant, David Clark, Alicia Lieberman, Roger Solomon and Zachary Steel.
I shall look forward to meeting as many of you as possible in London or in Chicago.