Trauma, cognition and chronic PTSD: A study of former East German political prisoners
Boos A., Ehlers A., Maercker A., Schutzwohl M.
The investigation aimed to identify cognitive correlates of chronic Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in former East German political prisoners (PP). The pilot study developed a manual for rating cognitive processing during and after imprisonment. In the main study, blind raters rated semi-structured interviews with 26 PP without PTSD and 26 with chronic PTSD. The groups did not differ in conditions of imprisonment, or sociodemographic variables. The majority of participants with chronic PTSD reported mental defeat during imprisonment whereas those without PTSD retained an autonomous frame of mind and did not give up. Participants with PTSD described to a larger extent than those without PTSD an overall feeling of alienation from other people and a feeling of permanent change for the worse in their personality and life. Participants without PTSD reported a greater oppositional political motivation prior to imprisonment. Mental defeat and alienation classified 90 % of the participants correctly.