Loneliness and Isolation in Life-Stories of Israeli Veterans of Combat and Captivity
ABSTRACT Loneliness holds detrimental ramifications for health and well-being. Nevertheless, loneliness references in the literature addressing combat-related trauma are few. Consequentially, the qualities and characteristics of such experiences in these post-traumatic realities remain uninvestigated empirically. In the current qualitative study we began filling this gap in the literature. We utilized thematic content analysis of life-stories of 19 combat veterans and 7 ex-POWs that have given testimony at the Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War (NATAL). Our findings suggest that the loneliness in the contexts at hand is primarily characterized by a sense of experiential isolation, rather than social, emotional or existential. This is the sensation that due to the extraordinary nature of traumatic experiences the fulfillment of the need for empathy and intersubjectivity may be unachievable. Integrating our findings with existing interdisciplinary literature regarding social sharing, trauma and loneliness, we discuss implications for clinical interventions and further research.