Award Date

8-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Christopher Heavey, Chair

Second Committee Member

Russell Hurlburt

Third Committee Member

Murray Millar

Graduate Faculty Representative

Paul Jones

Number of Pages

281

Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder that develops following exposure to a traumatic event, has long been associated with military combat. Despite the well-documented negative effects of PTSD, careful, in-depth accounts of the experience of those suffering from PTSD are rare. The present study employed Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES) to explore the inner experience of seven Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veterans with combat-related PTSD. Potential participants completed the PTSD Checklist - Military Version to determine the presence and severity of PTSD symptomatology. Participants who reported significant symptoms of combat-related PTSD participated in DES. A description of the inner experience of each participant was prepared and these were examined as a group in an attempt to identify similarities or differences in the characteristics of inner experience among the participants. Results revealed veterans with PTSD had an unexpectedly low frequency of inner speaking and few instances of clearly experienced feelings. They had a high frequency of focused attention to the sensory aspects of the environment as well as to the inner sensations of the body (sensory awareness). They also had occasional experiences that can be described as vigilance and flashbacks; such experiences are rare among participants in other DES studies.

Keywords

Combat; Introspection; Iraq War (2003-2011); Posttraumatic stress disorder; Veterans

Disciplines

Clinical Psychology | Health Psychology | Psychology

Language

English


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