The DSM 5 and the Istanbul Protocol: Diagnosis of psychological sequels of torture


  • Thomas Wenzel Medical University of Vienna, Department of Social Psychiatry; World Psychiatric Association Section on Psychological Sequels to Torture and Persecution
  • Andreas Frewer University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
  • Siroos Mirzaei Wilhelminenspital; Hemayat Treatment Centre, Vienna, Austria



torture, PTSD, mental health, transcultural assessment, Istanbul Protocol, psychiatric diagnosis, forensic documentation, diagnosis


The Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, commonly known as the Istanbul Protocol, is an interdisciplinary standard supported by, among others, the United Nations and the World Medical Association. It aims at aiding the fight against torture by giving clear guidelines to ensure better and more effective assessment of physical and psychological sequels. Mental health is a key aspect of diagnostical assessment and documentation due to the severe and frequently long-lasting impact of torture that often lasts longer than physical sequels. The inclusion of psychological aspects and a psychiatric diagnosis is to be treated as an important obligatory. Care must be taken to avoid common pitfalls. The new and substantial revisions in the frequently used but also criticised Diagnostical and Statistical Manual (DSM) reflect challenges and opportunities in a comprehensive approach to the documentation of torture.


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How to Cite

Wenzel, T., Frewer, A., & Mirzaei, S. (2018). The DSM 5 and the Istanbul Protocol: Diagnosis of psychological sequels of torture. Torture Journal, 25(1), 11.