How Long Has the PTSD Diagnosis Been Around? How Long has the RAD Diagnosis Been Around?

The PTSD diagnosis has been around since the 1970s. The RAD diagnosis was first described in the early 1980s, but did not come into common use until the late 1990s.

I just read a description of PTSD that said it happens to children over 6-years-old. The DSM-V says RAD occurs before a child is 5-years-old. I’m being a little facetious, but I think that professionals often diagnose a child with RAD symptoms who is over 6 years old with PTSD versus RAD.

There’s an old statistic (2001) that said RAD was so rare there are only 20,000 cases each year. I’d like to know where they came up with that statistic. What frustrates me is that the RAD diagnosis seems to be almost exclusively used for adopted children.

RAD is not solely a diagnosis for adopted children and should be used for biological children with similar behaviors. I’d really like to know why professionals don’t accept the RAD diagnosis for children causing problems in their own biological home.

I think a comparison of the history of the two diagnoses may shed some light on the issues. 

 I’ll start with PTSD.

PTSD was first used as a diagnosis for Vietnam veterans who experienced significant behaviors and an inability to function normally after serving in the war. The psychiatrists and other medical personnel seemed oblivious to other war veterans with the same issues.

In World War II, veterans with the same symptoms were labeled as having “Battle Fatigue.” They were also classified as victims of shell-shock. What was the difference? Nothing really, just a new way of saying the war had an adverse influence on the mental health of the veterans.

There was a post on Facebook yesterday about how Civil War generals and other officers had committed suicide because of family issues, alcoholism, drug addiction and mental breakdowns. There were untold numbers of other soldiers that did the same. Were their issues different than the Vietnam vets? I don’t think so. 

All soldiers in active duty situations can experience mental issues brought on by the continual necessity to be on alert all the time and to experience loss of life or injury to their friends or their loved ones. The Civil War was 150 years ago.

There have been reported instances that soldiers in the Revolution also had the same symptoms. George Washington is said to have had trouble sleeping after the war.

As you can see, PTSD has been around for millennia and then some, just not listed as such.

Let’s look at RAD.

There are many stories of children being brutalized by their parents in the history of the United States from its earliest settlers to now. Were all those children placed with other families? Probably not!

The questions are plenty about how these children behaved, especially when grown up. There have been all sorts of crimes created by the children of abusers. It’s only been about 150 years since children have begun to be recognized for their value. But we still don’t have anything in place to save the children from abuse.

Photo by Helena Lopes on

RAD is the result of emotional trauma brought on by poor parenting, lack of loving stimulation and caregiver indifference. This can result in PTSD and resistance to any adult trying to show them what a stable parent is.

On the question I proposed about using the RAD diagnoses, I’ll offer up my experience with this. My RAD daughter married an abuser. He beat her regularly as well as my 4 grandchildren.

Those children watched as their father raped and killed a woman relief worker. They already had RAD behaviors, but none were ever diagnosed with it. Not even when they were placed and adopted by a single parent in Arizona. All three boys have spent long term sentences in prison and my granddaughter has had a rough time in her marriage.

I’m truthfully at a loss. I’ve cried over my daughter and her children, but had no way to help them. I did try, but her husband was so controlling, that she ran right back to him.

Helping other families with RAD children, either adopted or biological, has become my focus and will be until I’m “too old to cut the mustard” as an old 1940s statement goes.

Love to all my followers and friends.

N. Ann Lamphere, Mother of a RAD child

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