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Trauma, time and mental health: a study of temporal reintegration and Depressive Disorder among Southeast Asian refugees

  • M. BEISER (a1) and K. A. S. WICKRAMA (a1)

Abstract

Background. Prior research suggested that time splitting – suppressing the past and dissociating it from present and future – protected refugee mental health in the aftermath of catastrophe. The current study investigates temporal reintegration, defined as cognitive recapture of the past and reconnecting it with present and future, the mental health effects of temporal reintegration, and factors moderating the associated risk for Depressive Disorder.

Method. A community sample of 608 Southeast Asian refugees, resettled in Vancouver British Columbia between 1979 and 1981, were interviewed on three separate occasions over a 10-year period. Participants performed a temporal orientation task and responded to questions about employment, social relations and mental health. Depressive Disorder, measured by a typology derived from Grade of Membership analysis of symptoms, constituted the dependent variable. Latent Growth Curve Analysis was used to examine both levels and rates of change in the probability of Depressive Disorder as predicted by changes in temporal reintegration, as well as the contribution of putative social and psychological moderators to explaining variations in growth parameters.

Results. Time relatedness increased over the duration of the study. Temporal reintegration jeopardized mental health. Employment and relational stability each moderated the mental health effects of temporal reintegration.

Conclusions. Although time splitting may be effective in coping with adversity over the short-term, eventual temporal reintegration is probably ineluctable. Stability in love and work are protective factors, mitigating the mental health vicissitudes of temporal reintegration. Implications for optimal timing of clinical interventions are discussed.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr Morton Beiser, Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement, 246 Bloor Street W., 7th Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1V4, Canada. (Email: mortonbeiser@rogers.com)

Trauma, time and mental health: a study of temporal reintegration and Depressive Disorder among Southeast Asian refugees

  • M. BEISER (a1) and K. A. S. WICKRAMA (a1)

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