Background. Although much research has focused on mechanisms
of traumatization and factors
related to post-trauma psychological functioning in survivors of trauma,
have been few studies
of survivors of torture despite the widespread practice of torture in the
world. The aim of this study
was to examine the role of ‘psychological preparedness’ for
trauma in post-traumatic stress responses in survivors of torture.
Method. Thirty-four torture survivors who had no history of
political activity, commitment to a
political cause or group, or expectations of arrest and torture were compared
with 55 tortured
political activists, using structured interviews and measures of anxiety,
depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Results. Compared with tortured political activists, tortured
non-activists were subject to relatively
less severe torture but showed higher levels of psychopathology. Less
related to greater perceived distress during torture and more severe
explaining 4% of the variance in general psychopathology and 9% of the
variance in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
Conclusions. The study findings lend support to the role of
immunization to traumatic stress
and to unpredictability and uncontrollability of stressors in the effects
of traumatization. Further
research aimed at identifying the behavioural and cognitive components
preparedness that play a role in traumatization may provide useful insights
into effective treatment strategies for survivors of torture.