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Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 2015 Apr;46(2):180-93. doi: 10.1007/s10578-014-0470-6.

The guiltless guilty: trauma-related guilt and psychopathology in former Ugandan child soldiers.

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1
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, University Medical Centre of Hamburg, Martinistrasse 52, 20246, Hamburg, Germany, f.klasen@uke.de.

Abstract

Child soldiers often experience complex trauma as victims and perpetrators, and feelings of guilt may affect their psychological health. The relationship between the children's traumatic experiences as victims or perpetrators, their perception of themselves as victim or perpetrator, guilt and psychopathology were investigated: of the 330 former child soldiers interviewed, 50.8 % perceived themselves as victims and 19.1 % as perpetrators. On psychopathology measures, scores within the clinical range were 33 % for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 36.4 % for major depressive disorder (MDD), and 26.1 % for externalizing problems. Low socio-economic status, traumatic experience as perpetrator, and guilt were significant predictors of PTSD. Significant predictors of MDD were low socio-economic status, traumatic experiences as victim, and guilt. A greater number of traumatic experiences as perpetrator and guilt were associated with externalizing problems. The current paper underscores the significance of guilt following traumatic experiences and has implications for the development of clinical interventions for war-affected children.

PMID:
24832576
DOI:
10.1007/s10578-014-0470-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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