Somatic complaints and attachment in former prisoners of war: A longitudinal study

Yael Lahav, Rebecca Rodin, Zahava Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: War captivity includes a unique constellation of simultaneous somatic and interpersonal assaults. This raises questions about the link between attachment and somatic complaints among ex–prisoners of war (ex-POWs). Although the attachment literature assumes that attachment affects somatic complaints and not vice versa, to date no empirical studies assess the association between the two variables over time. In this article we prospectively examine the association between attachment and somatic complaints over time among ex-POWs and comparable veterans. Method: The current study included two groups of male Israeli veterans of the 1973 Yom Kippur War: ex-POWs and comparable veterans who were not taken captive. Both groups were assessed via self-report measures at three times: T1 (1991), T2 (2003), and T3 (2008)—18, 30, and 35 years after the war, respectively. Results: Ex-POWs reported higher levels of somatic complaints and attachment insecurities. These levels increased over time compared to combatant veterans. Moreover, while there was a unidirectional influence of somatic complaints on attachment security over time among combatant veterans, this relationship was bidirectional among ex-POWs. Conclusions: The present study suggests that the combined physical and interpersonal assaults experienced during captivity have adverse effects on combatants and on attachment security, even three decades later. More important, in ex-POWs the relationship between these domains appears to be interactive and mutual, with one reinforcing the other, and vice versa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-366
Number of pages13
JournalPsychiatry (New York)
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Somatic complaints and attachment in former prisoners of war: A longitudinal study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this