Authors: Sousa, C., & Veronese, G.
Source: Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. March, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0001023
Publication type: Article
Abstract: Objective: The mental health consequences of political violence arise within active, dynamic processes of appraisal and coping. Understanding the psychological sequela of war is an urgent task; yet, we have little on the ground exploration of the quotidian events within and the accompanying psychological responses of the totalizing experience of war. Using a transactional-based model of stress and coping, in this study, we use a novel method—retrospective diaries—to explore the shifting, unpredictable, and traumatic nature of life during a major military operation. Method: Our sample consisted of 21 Palestinian women recruited via an intervention for teachers in Gaza. Women’s retrospective chronological diaries were analyzed using content analysis. Results: Our analysis drew out the cyclical process of coping within political violence, demonstrating five essential temporal dimensions: warning; bombings, with injuries, death, and destruction; reintegrating within flight and resettlement; ongoing political insecurity within precarious truces and rampant loss and destruction; and persevering: restarting life amid pervasive trauma. Conclusion: Our findings draw attention to vital temporal dimensions and the cyclical nature of stress and coping that underlie the sequela of mental health in a highly charged context. In tracing warfare, its psychosocial consequences, and distinct patterns of emotional and logistical survival, our study contributes to the growing field of psychological epidemiology of war.