2 INTRODUCTION: Although most disorders within the field of psychopathology rely upon some notion of stress, the notion of the stressor involved in any particular disorder is often vague and ill-defined. Nonetheless, nosologies retain the notion of stress, and DSM-III even provides a specific axis for classification of disorders in which stress is argued to occupy a dimensional existence, from "minimal" to "catastrophic", and the presence of a defined stressor is argued to be a good prognostic sign. Hence, Brief Reactive Psychosis, which requires a stressor, is argued to have a better prognosis than Schizophrenia, which has no stressor and has insidious onset. However, this assumption that a stressor is a good thing may be questioned, and the notion that insidious development of a disorder is a bad thing may reflect clinicians' ignorance rather than any real state of affairs. In some disorders, however, stress is clearly not a good prognostic sign, but the reason for the disorder itself, as is the case with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) has been argued to be a useful classification in dealing with stressors of an extreme nature, specifically those of a "catastrophic" nature according to Axis IV of DSM-III and DSM-III(R). The stressor no longer forms part of the background theory of a disorder, as is the case for many disorders, but forms the rationale for the disorder. However, it is argued by some workers, largely those working with torture survivors, that the notion of stress-induced disorder is insufficient to deal with the extent and nature of the trauma caused to a person by torture and repressive violence. This paper examines this debate.

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