A pseudo-spectral three-dimensional Strauss-equations code is used to describe internal disruptions in a strongly magnetized, electrically-conducting fluid, with and without an externally applied, axial electric field. Rigid conducting walls form a square (x, y) boundary, and periodic boundary conditions are assumed in the axial (z) direction. Typical resolution is 64 × 64 × 32 and the maximum Lundquist number is approximately 400. The dynamics are dominated by a helical current filament which wraps itself around the axis of the cylinder; parts of this filament can sometimes become strongly negative. The ratio of turbulent kinetic energy to total poloidal magnetic energy rises from very small values to values of the order of a few hundredths, and executes ‘bounces’ as a function of time in the absence of the external electric field. In the presence of the external electric field, the first bounce is by far the largest, then the plasma settles into a non-uniform quasi-steady state characterized by a poloidal fluid velocity flow. At the large scales, this flow has the shape of a pair of counter-rotating bean-shaped vortices. The subsequent development of this fluid flow depends strongly upon whether or not a viscous term is added to the equation of motion. Inclusion of viscosity tends to damp the flow and leads to pronounced subsequent bounces suggestive of sawtooth oscillations, though the first bounce remains substantially the largest. By means of a three-mode (Lorenz-like) truncation of the Strauss equations, the evolution of the largest spatial scales alone may be examined. Some time-dependent solutions of the low-order truncation system suggest qualitative agreement with fully resolved solutions of the Strauss equations, while other solutions exhibit interesting dynamical-systems behaviour which is thus far unparalleled in the fully-resolved simulation results.