Award Date

12-1-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Russell T. Hurlburt

Second Committee Member

Christopher Heavey

Third Committee Member

Laurel Pritchard

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Reid Keene

Number of Pages

284

Abstract

Military veterans have returned from combat changed by exposure to trauma for as long as history has been recorded. The field of psychology contains a vast literature describing and attempting to understand Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its detrimental effects on the lives of individuals with the disorder. Despite the volume of study dedicated to PTSD in the literature, in-depth accounts of the lived experience of individuals with PTSD are rare. The current study utilized Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES), a method based on apprehending high-fidelity accounts of momentary inner experience, to explore the inner experience of eight Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veterans with combat-related PTSD. Participants who eventually completed the study first completed a self-report measure of PTSD symptom severity (the PTSD Checklist - Military Version) to confirm the presence of significant PTSD symptomatology. After sampling, the results from each participant were condensed into individual idiographic descriptions of experience, and the results of the group as a whole were examined for similarities, differences, and patterns. Results revealed that participants frequently had emotion ongoing outside of felt experience, but rarely had a clearly experienced feeling. They had a high frequency of inner experience that was inchoate or unclear in some way in the moment. There was also a higher than average frequency of sensory awareness, and lower frequencies of inner speaking, inner seeing, and unsymbolized thinking in this sample than in normative samples. There was only one example of vigilance in this study, and no example of flashbacks in the way that the field of psychology defines such phenomena.

Keywords

Combat – Psychological aspects; Descriptive Experience Sampling; Inner Experience; Introspection; Mental Health; Military; Post-traumatic stress disorder; PTSD; Soldiers; Trauma; Veterans

Disciplines

Clinical Psychology | Military and Veterans Studies | Psychology

Language

English


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