"The trauma that is the focus of the 'After the Crisis: Healing from Trauma after Disasters' initiative is not the trauma of emergency medicine -- traumatic bodily injury, whether from accidents, beatings, or disasters -- although it certainly intersects with such injury. A distinction is often made between a traumatic event and 'psychological trauma' (e.g., Herman, 1992b), the impact on the individual of experiencing a traumatic event. Frequently, the word 'trauma' is used as a short-hand for both. Attention is paid in the literature to distinguishing between traumatic life events and stressful life events, with the line often drawn, in keeping with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), between those events that involve 'threat of death or serious injury' and, according to the current edition of the DSM (DSM-IV-TR [Text Revision]) (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2000), also an 'emotional response of fear, helplessness, or horror at the time of the precipitating event' and other 'painful and stressful events that constitute the normal vicissitudes of life, such as divorce, loss, serious illness, and financial misfortune' (McHugo et al., 2005a, p. 114-115). Today's world is replete with examples of extreme life events, including war, ethnic cleansing, genocide, terrorist attacks, as well as tsunami, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes -- so-called 'natural disasters' whose impact is frequently shaped by past and present human actions and inactions."
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: http://www.samhsa.gov/
After the Crisis: Healing from Trauma after Disasters. Bethesda, Maryland. April 24-25, 2006