Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Traumatic consequences long after fall of the Berlin Wall

Date:
October 25, 2012
Source:
University of Zurich
Summary:
One in three former political prisoners of the German Democratic Republic still suffers from sleeping disorders, nightmares and irrational fear. Researchers reveal these post-traumatic stress disorders in a study -- the first to examine the post-traumatic consequences in former political prisoners over a period of 15 years.

One in three former political prisoners of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) still suffers from sleeping disorders, nightmares and irrational fear. Professor Andreas Maercker from the University of Zurich and PD Matthias Schützwohl from Dresden University of Technology reveal these post-traumatic stress disorders in a study -- the first to examine the post-traumatic consequences in former political prisoners over a period of 15 years.

Previously, there had been a lack of reliable data in Germany on the long-term psychological consequences of political imprisonment in the GDR. Professor Andreas Maercker, Head of the Department of Psychopathology and Clinical Intervention at the University of Zurich, and private lecturer Dr. Matthias Schützwohl, Group Leader at the Clinic and Polyclinic of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Dresden University of Technology, interviewed 146 former political prisoners in the mid-1990s. 15 years later, they studied the majority of those concerned (78 men and 15 women) again.

"To our surprise, post-traumatic stress disorder is still present in a third of the people studied," says Professor Maercker, summing up the results. "While some have recovered compared to 15 years ago, in others the stress disorder has only manifested itself in recent years." In all, such a delayed or recurrent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was apparent in 15 percent. We know from studies from other countries -- mostly on prisoners of war or other victims of violence -- that delayed or recurrent PTSD exists, albeit to a lesser extent. Maercker and Schützwohl's study is the first to demonstrate this for former political prisoners. It appears in the journal Nervenarzt and additional analyses are to be published in the English-language journal Torture.

Decline in dependency on addictive substances

Other psychological disorders that former GDR prisoners suffered from decreased during the 15 years. Specific phobias such as claustrophobia were less common, for instance. The number of people addicted to alcohol and medication also fell. However, the number with acute depression quadrupled to 41 percent of those studied last year. At both time points, a more or less equal number suffered from anxiety disorders such as panic disorder (24 percent last year).

"We made another key discovery: Those affected tend to rate their own psychological condition after their release too poorly in retrospect but their current state more realistically," says PD Schützwohl. From this, the authors conclude that there is no distortion of memory for the purposes of a current desire for compensation, for instance, but rather that psychological factors play a role in the tendency towards a negative life evaluation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Zurich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Maercker, I. Gäbler, M. Schützwohl. Verläufe von Traumafolgen bei ehemaligen politisch Inhaftierten der DDR. Der Nervenarzt, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s00115-012-3646-y

Cite This Page:

University of Zurich. "Traumatic consequences long after fall of the Berlin Wall." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025095405.htm>.
University of Zurich. (2012, October 25). Traumatic consequences long after fall of the Berlin Wall. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025095405.htm
University of Zurich. "Traumatic consequences long after fall of the Berlin Wall." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025095405.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins