Risk and protective factors mediating psychological symptoms and ideological commitment of adolescents facing continuous terrorism

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease (Impact Factor: 1.81). 05/2006; 194(4):279-86. DOI: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000207364.68064.dc
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study evaluated symptoms, risk, and protective factors of adolescents from six Israeli schools exposed to continuous terrorism. All children in the grades selected at each school (7, 9, and 11) were administered anonymous assessment materials measuring posttraumatic, grief, and dissociative symptoms, as well as traumatic exposure, personal resilience, and family factors. A high number of risk factors increased the likelihood of negative symptoms. Perceived personal resilience served as a protective factor against symptom development, perhaps enforced by ideology. Girls living on the West Bank had less severe posttrauma and were more willing to make personal sacrifices for their country. Proactive interventions aimed at enhancing a child's personal resilience and ability to cope with continuous stress may help protect against later symptomatology following traumatic events. Facing terrorism, political ideology may serve a double edge sword: protecting against symptom development as well as contributing to the toxic cycle of violence.

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    • "t lower beliefs in the chance for peace and less openness to reconciliation , or attitudes of revenge , were associated with more severe post - traumatic symptoms ( Bayer , Klasen , and Adam 2007 ; Laor , Wolmer , and Cohen 2004 ; Lavi and Solomon 2005 ) . However , strong ideology , even pro - war ideology , was a protector from stress symptoms ( Laor et al . 2006 ) ."
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    • "Although ideological convictions might help maintain psychological equanimity and give meaning to extreme traumatic events (e.g., Punamäki, Qouta, & El-Sarraj, 2001), ideological commitment may also function as a vulnerability factor in coping with political stressors. Strong ideological commitment among Jewish settlers was specifically found to be positively associated with distress (Laor et al., 2006; Laufer, Shechory, & Solomon, 2009). In an attempt to explain these mixed findings, Laufer and her colleagues (2009) postulated that the effects of ideological commitment on mental health are dependent on the content of ideology. "
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    • "Ideology enabled the children to be proactive and positive, and gave them hope that they would be able to restore what they had lost. In that connection, studies have shown that faith in general and religious faith in particular facilitate effective coping with situations of stress, crisis, and trauma (Kaplan et al. 2005; Laor et al. 2006). Nonetheless, it is possible that the children's use of ideology in their drawings and their preoccupation with the memory of Gush Katif also reflects intergenerational transmission of the parents' attempt to perpetuate that community and the children's internalization of the parental ideology (Volkan 1997). "
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