Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-5rzhg Total loading time: 0.225 Render date: 2021-12-02T19:34:48.577Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Coping with traumatic memories: Second World War veterans' experiences of social support in relation to the narrative coherence of war memories

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 October 2009

KAREN J. BURNELL*
Affiliation:
Department of Mental Health Sciences, University College London, London, UK.
PETER G. COLEMAN
Affiliation:
School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.
NIGEL HUNT
Affiliation:
Institute of Work, Health and Organisations, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.
*
Address for correspondence: Karen Burnell, Department of Mental Health Sciences, University College London, 67–73 Riding House Street, 1st floor Charles Bell House, LondonW1W 7EJ, UK. E-mail: k.burnell@ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

This paper reports a qualitative study that used narrative analysis to explore how social support helps many armed-services veterans cope with traumatic memories. The analysis was carried out on two levels, that of narrative form (level of narrative coherence), argued to be indicative of reconciliation, and narrative content (themes of social support), which allowed exploration of the types of social support experienced by veterans with coherent, reconciled and incoherent narratives. Ten British male Second World War veterans were interviewed regarding their war experiences, presence of traumatic memories, and experiences of social support from comrades, family and society. Different patterns of support were qualitatively related to coherent, reconciled and incoherent narratives. Veterans with coherent narratives were no less likely to have experienced traumatic events than those with reconciled or incoherent narratives, but they reported more positive perceptions of their war experience and of the war's outcomes, more positive experiences of communication with family in later life, and more positive perceptions of societal opinion. The results are discussed in relation to how veterans can be supported by family and friends to reconcile their traumatic memories, thus to lessen the burden in later life when vital support resources may be unavailable.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Androutsopoulou, A., Thanopoulou, K., Economou, E. and Bafti, T. 2004. Forming criteria for assessing the coherence of clients' life stories: a narrative study. Journal of Family Therapy, 26, 4, 384406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baerger, D. R. and McAdams, D. P. 1999. Life story coherence and its relation to psychological well-being. Narrative Inquiry, 9, 1, 6996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baltes, M. M. and Lang, F. R. 1997. Everyday functioning and successful aging: the impact of resources. Psychology and Aging, 12, 3, 433–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barron, D. S., Davies, S. P. and Wiggins, R. D. 2008. Social integration, a sense of belonging and the Cenotaph Service: old soldiers reminisce about remembrance. Aging and Mental Health, 12, 4, 509–16.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Brewin, C. R. 2001. A cognitive neuroscience account of posttraumatic stress disorder and its treatment. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 39, 4, 373–93.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Brewin, C. R., Dalgleish, T. and Joseph, S. 1996. A dual representation theory of posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychological Review, 103, 4, 670–86.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bruner, J. 1986. Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
Burnell, K. J., Coleman, P. G. and Hunt, N. 2006 a. Falklands War veterans' perceptions of social support and the reconciliation of traumatic memories. Aging and Mental Health, 10, 3, 282–9.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Burnell, K. J., Hunt, N. and Coleman, P. G. 2006 b. Using narrative analysis to investigate the role of social support in the reconciliation of traumatic war memories. Health Psychology Update, 15, 3, 37–9.Google Scholar
Butler, R. N. 1963. The life review: an interpretation of reminiscence in the aged. Psychiatry, 26, 1, 6576.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Chase, S. E. 2008. Narrative inquiry: multiple lenses, approaches, voices. In Denzin, N. K. and Lincoln, Y. S. (eds), Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials. Sage, Thousand Oaks, California, 5794.Google Scholar
Cohen, S. and Wills, T. A. 1985. Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 98, 2, 310–57.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Coleman, P. G. 1999. Creating a life story: the task of reconciliation. The Gerontologist, 39, 2, 133–9.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Creamer, M., Burgess, P. and Pattison, P. 1992. Reaction to trauma: a cognitive processing model. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101, 3, 452–9.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Davies, S. 2001. The long-term psychological effects of traumatic wartime experiences on older adults. Aging and Mental Health, 5, 2, 99–103.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dirkzwager, A. J. E., Bramsen, I. and van der Ploeg, H. M. 2003. Social support, coping, life events, and posttraumatic stress symptoms among former peacekeepers: a prospective study. Personality and Individual Differences, 34, 8, 1545–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Elder, G. H. 1986. Military times and turning points in men's lives. Developmental Psychology, 22, 2, 233–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Elder, G. H., Gimbel, C. and Ivie, R. 1991. Turning points in life: the case of military service and war. Military Psychology, 3, 4, 215–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Foa, E. B., Molner, C. and Cashman, L. 1995. Change in rape narratives during exposure therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 8, 4, 675–90.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gubrium, J. F. and Holstein, J. A. 2001. Handbook of Interview Research: Context and Method. Sage, Thousand Oaks, California.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Habermas, T. and Bluck, S. 2000. Getting a life: the emergence of the life story in adolescence. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 5, 748–69.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Halbwachs, M. 1992. On Collective Memory. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
Hautamäki, A. and Coleman, P. G. 2001. Explanation for low prevalence of PTSD among older Finnish war veterans: social solidarity and continued significance given to wartime sufferings. Aging and Mental Health, 5, 2, 165–74.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hunt, N. and McHale, S. 2008. Memory and meaning: individual and social aspects of memory narratives. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 13, 1, 4258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hunt, N. and Robbins, I. 2001. World War II veterans, social support, and veterans' associations. Aging and Mental Health, 5, 2, 175–82.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Janet, P. 1909. Les Nervoses [Neuroses]. Flammarion, Paris.Google Scholar
Janoff-Bullman, R. 1992. Shattered Assumptions: Towards a New Psychology of Trauma. Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
Joffe, H. and Yardley, L. 2004. Content and thematic analysis. In Marks, D. F. and Yardley, L. (eds), Research Methods for Clinical and Health Psychology. Sage, London, 5668.Google Scholar
Kaspersen, M., Matthiesen, S. B. and Gotestam, K. G. 2003. Social network as a moderator in the relation between trauma exposure and trauma reaction: a survey among UN soldiers and relief workers. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 44, 5, 415–23.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
King, L. A., King, D. W., Fairbank, J. A., Keane, T. M. and Adams, G. A. 1998. Resilience-recovery factors in post-traumatic stress disorder among female and male Vietnam veterans: hardiness, post-war social support, and additional stressful life events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 2, 420–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Linde, C. 1993. Life Stories: The Creation of Coherence. Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
McAdams, D. P. 2001. The psychology of life stories. Review of General Psychology, 66, 2, 1125–46.Google Scholar
McFarlane, A. C. 1992. Avoidance and intrusion in post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 180, 7, 439–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Murray, M. 2003. Narrative psychology and narrative analysis. In Camic, P. M., Rhodes, J. E. and Yardley, L. (eds), Qualitative Research in Psychology: Expanding Perspectives in Methodology and Design. American Psychological Association, Washington DC, 95–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Neuner, F., Schauer, M., Klaschik, C., Karunakara, U. and Elbert, T. 2004. A comparison of narrative exposure therapy, supportive counselling, and psychoeducation for treating posttraumatic stress disorder in an African refugee settlement. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 4, 579–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Polkinghorne, D. E. 1988. Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. SUNY Press, Albany, New York.Google Scholar
Riessman, C. K. 1993. Narrative Analysis. Sage, Thousand Oaks, California.Google Scholar
Riessman, C. K. 2002. Analysis of personal narratives. In Gubrium, J. F. and Holstein, J. A. (eds), Handbook of Interview Research. Sage, Thousand Oaks, California, 695710.Google Scholar
Rose, S., Bisson, J., Churchill, R. and Wessely, S. 2007. Psychological debriefing for preventing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2002, 2, CD000560. doi: 10.1002/14651858. CD000560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, J. A. 1995. Semi-structured interviewing and qualitative analysis. In Smith, J. A., Harre, R. and Van Langenhove, L. (eds), Rethinking Methods in Psychology. Sage, London, 9–27.Google Scholar
Solomon, Z., Mikulincer, M. and Avitzur, E. 1988. Coping, locus of control, social support, and combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder: a prospective study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 2, 279–85.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
van der Kolk, B. A. and Fisler, R. 1995. Dissociation and the fragmentary nature of traumatic memories: overview and exploratory study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 8, 4, 505–25.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wessely, S. and Deahl, M. 2003. Psychological debriefing is a waste of time. British Journal of Psychiatry, 183, 1, 1214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wilkinson, S., Joffe, H. and Yardley, L. 2004. Qualitative data collection. In Marks, D. F. and Yardley, L. (eds), Research Methods for Clinical and Health Psychology. Sage, London, 3955.Google Scholar
Zoellner, L. A., Alvarez-Conrad, J. and Foa, E. B. 2002. Peri-traumatic dissociative experiences, trauma narratives, and trauma pathology. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 15, 1, 4957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
23
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Coping with traumatic memories: Second World War veterans' experiences of social support in relation to the narrative coherence of war memories
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Coping with traumatic memories: Second World War veterans' experiences of social support in relation to the narrative coherence of war memories
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Coping with traumatic memories: Second World War veterans' experiences of social support in relation to the narrative coherence of war memories
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *