Self-Disclosing Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Couples: A Longitudinal Study

Jacob Y. Stein, Yael Lahav, Zahava Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Most research concerning the implications of self-disclosure on trauma’s aftermath has focused on the salubrious effects disclosure may foster for the primary victim. However, the manner in which recipients of disclosure are symptomatically affected by it remains unexamined. Of particular interest are spouses who are often the primary support providers and are therefore susceptible to secondary traumatization. Assessing posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and self-disclosure among traumatized veterans and their wives, the current longitudinal study begins to fill this gap in the literature. Method: A total of 220 couples consisting of Israeli veterans, of whom 128 were former prisoners of war (ex-POWs) and 92 were combatants, and their wives were examined. PTSS and self-disclosure of both partners were assessed 30 and 35 years after the war using the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Inventory (PTSD-I; Solomon et al., 1993) and the Self-Disclosure Index (SDI; Miller, Berg, & Archer, 1983), respectively. Analyses included Pearson intercorrelations analyses and four stepwise hierarchical multiple regression analyses. Results: Findings indicated that increments in veterans’ disclosure are not only consistently associated with the reduction of their wives’ PTSS but may also explain and predict some of the change in the wives’ PTSS over time. However, such a longitudinal effect was not evident concerning the veterans’ PTSS. Conclusion: Traumatized ex-POWs’ and combatants’ self-disclosure within the marital relationship may contribute to the amelioration of their wives’ secondary traumatization, and thus may be a goal worth pursuing in therapy. However, more research is needed to further understand this relation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-91
Number of pages13
JournalPsychiatry (New York)
Volume80
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017

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