Psychology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version

January 1991


Published in Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1991, Vol. 59, No. 2, 274-281. Copyright 1991. Used by permission.


Little is known about how survivors of extreme events cope with traumatic memories and subsequent negative life experiences. The present study compared (a) repatriated prisoners of war (RPWs) from World War II (WWII) with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), (b) RPWs without PTSD, and (c) noncombat veterans on measures of general psychological functioning, appraisal, and coping. Appraisal and coping were assessed under 2 stressor conditions: memories of war/captivity and recent negative life events. RPWs with PTSD reported poorer general psychological functioning; significantly less control over memories of WW II; and more frequent use of self-isolation, wishful thinking, self-blame, and social support in an effort to cope with these memories than did the 2 comparison groups. Fewer between-groups differences were found for the recent stressor condition. Findings are discussed in terms of factors that may explain the perseverance of coping difficulties associated with PTSD.