Far away, so close: The role of self-differentiation in psychopathology among spouses of ex-POWs and comparable combatants

Rony Kapel Lev-Ari, Zahava Solomon, Danny Horesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: War captivity entails severe posttraumatic implications for ex-prisoners of war (POWs) and their partners. This study examines the role of self-differentiation in secondary traumatization and dyadic adjustment among ex-POWs' spouses. Methods: A total of 106 spouses of Israeli ex-POWs and 56 matched spouses of ex-combatants completed self-report questionnaires assessing secondary posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (SPS), self-differentiation (fusion, cut-off, balanced), general psychiatric distress (GPD), and dyadic adjustment. Results: Ex-POWs' spouses reported lower dyadic adjustment and higher levels of SPS, GPD, and fusion and cut-off differentiation, compared to ex-combatants' spouses. A “mixed” differentiation style characterized by high levels of both fusion and cut-off was associated with particularly high distress levels. Fusion differentiation moderated the association between SPS/GPD and dyadic adjustment. Conclusion: Self-differentiation plays an important role in posttraumatic spousal relationships. Women showing unstable differentiation may be particularly vulnerable when living with a veteran. Treatments for posttraumatic couples should target dysregulated interpersonal distance and promote adaptive differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1904-1922
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Volume76
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • PTSD
  • secondary traumatization
  • self-differentiation
  • spouses
  • war captivity

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Far away, so close: The role of self-differentiation in psychopathology among spouses of ex-POWs and comparable combatants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this