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Psychol Med. 2008 Oct;38(10):1427-34. doi: 10.1017/S0033291708002808. Epub 2008 Feb 7.

Complex trauma of war captivity: a prospective study of attachment and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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  • 1The Adler Research Center for Child Welfare and Protection, Tel Aviv University, Israel. Solomon@post.tau.ac.il

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Victims of war captivity sometimes suffer from complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a unique form of PTSD that entails various alterations in personality. These alterations may involve changes in attachment orientation.

METHOD:

The sample comprised two groups of veterans from the 1973 Yom Kippur War: 103 ex-prisoners of war (ex-POWs) and 106 comparable control veterans. They were assessed at two points in time, 18 years and 30 years after the war.

RESULTS:

Ex-POWs suffered from more post-traumatic symptoms than controls at both measurements points and these symptoms increased only among ex-POWs from Time 1 to Time 2. In addition, both attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance increased with time among ex-POWs, whereas they decreased slightly or remained stable among controls. Finally, the increases in attachment anxiety and avoidance were positively associated with the increase in post-traumatic symptoms among both study groups. Further analyses indicated that early PTSD symptoms predicted later attachment better than early attachment predicted later PTSD symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results suggest that: (1) complex traumas are implicated in attachment orientations and PTSD symptoms even many years after captivity; (2) there is an increase in attachment insecurities (anxiety, avoidance) and an increase in PTSD symptoms decades after the captivity; (3) and post-traumatic stress symptoms predict attachment orientations better than attachment orientations predict an increase in PTSD symptoms.

PMID:
18257940
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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