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Psychosom Med. 1990 Jan-Feb;52(1):1-16.

Psychological and physiological assessments on American hostages freed from captivity in Iran.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno.


Medical evaluations of 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days included psychological testing and physiological measurements. Psychological testing utilized the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16-PF) and focused on the stress management capabilities of the group upon their arrival at Wiesbaden, West Germany. Physiological testing utilized plasma and urinary cortisol along with plasma and urinary catecholamine levels to help document former hostages' stress responses following their release from captivity. Saliva cortisol and testosterone were measured over the first three hospital days to assess the group's psychophysiological recovery. Psychological testing indicated that the former hostages, as a group, were generally well defended, appearing to have endured their ordeal well. In contrast, plasma and saliva cortisol, urinary catecholamines, and saliva testosterone were seen to be highly elevated. These physiological measures appeared to reflect three strong affects: distress, anxiety, and elation. Saliva cortisol was the only physiological measurement that demonstrated a significant correlation with psychiatrists' ratings of the released hostages' psychological disturbance. Psychiatrists' disturbance ratings appeared to be a valid psychometric estimate, as adduced from their correlations with MMPI and 16-PF major scales.

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