Armenian genocide survivors : adaptation and adjustment eight decades after massive trauma / by Diane Louise Kupelian.
Armenian survivors of the 1915-1923 genocide committed by the Turkish government against the Armenians and other Christian minorities in Turkey were compared to a control group of elderly Armenians who did not experience the genocide. Both groups were assessed for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) via the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID) - PTSD module, and for current adaptation via the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (TSCS), the Life Satisfaction Scale (LSI), and the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). In addition, both groups were assessed for post-traumatic reactions to recent news of anti-Armenian violence from Turkic Azeris via the Impact of Event Scale (IES). By assessment with the SCID, 3 of 34 survivors and 0 of 34 control subjects were diagnosed with PTSD. Although both groups were equally unlikely to have PTSD, the survivor group had significantly more positive symptoms of PTSD than the control group. This confirms the hypothesis that PTSD symptoms would linger, even eight decades, and therefore be higher in survivors than controls. PTSD symptoms, past and present, were further examined by type of symptom. Survivors met criteria for significantly more present intrusion symptoms, and tended to report more avoidance symptoms. In the past, avoidance symptoms were significantly higher for survivors than control subjects. Between group differences were found on one of three global BSI scales, with control subjects unexpectedly reporting a greater number of symptoms. No between group differences were found on the Total TSCS, LSI, or IES, indicating that, contrary to hypothesis, survivors had a similar sense of life satisfaction and self-esteem, and were not more sensitized to current anti-Armenian violence than controls. These assessments indicate that survivors had adjusted as well as the control group, despite their higher trauma symptomatology. An unexpected finding was an indication of higher pathology on the BSI and the somatic category of PTSD symptoms among those controls who were the grandchildren of survivors from earlier pogroms, as compared to other controls. Conclusions are that post-traumatic stress symptomatology can continue eight decades, as evidenced in the survivor group, but that, overall, this survivor sample appears to have adjusted as well as a control sample of elderly Armenians.
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