THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COPING STYLES IN COMBAT AND CURRENT ADJUSTMENT
The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between coping reactions to danger situations and later adjustment. The subjects were Vietnam veterans (117) who had been in heavy combat. A classification system was devised based on their recollections of how they felt in combat. There are three categories which are called flooding, blocking, and synthesis. This classification is similar to others found in the stress and coping literature (Freud, 1926; Grinker & Spiegel, 1945; Janis, 1958; Lazarus, 1966). Synthesis, the adaptive response, is characterized by the capacity to modulate strong emotional reactions to danger, interpret the danger realistically, and provide oneself with appropriate reassurances. The least adaptive response, flooding, is characterized by overwhelming reactions of fear. Blocking, more adaptive than flooding and less so than synthesis, is a dissociated reaction to the danger; feelings of fear and vulnerability are denied.;It was hypothesized and confirmed that the synthesizer, who had the most adaptive response to combat would be the least likely to have adjustment difficulties. The flooder, who had the least adaptive response to combat would be the most likely to have adjustment difficulties. The blocker who falls in between the flooder and the synthesizer with respect to the adaptive level of his response to combat would do so on the adjustment spectrum as well. More specifically, the synthesizer currently is significantly less likely than the flooder and the blocker to use alcohol and more likely to have a high occupational and educational level. The flooder is significantly more likely than the men in the other categories to be stressed, and to use alcohol and drugs. He, like the blocker is more likely than the synthesizer to have a lower educational level. The blocker is significantly more likely than the synthesizer and the flooder to have a lower occupational level and less likely to suffer from nightmares and the "impulse to lash out.".;This study basically shows that subjective measures, Vietnam veterans' recollections of their reactions to combat, can be significantly associated to objective measures of adjustment. Furthermore, the more adaptive response to stress is associated with a more successful adjustment picuture.;Preventive measures in the form of therapeutic interventions are indicated for those who have difficulty with modulating affects and judging danger situations accurately. Preparatory communications specifically suited for the individual's defensive style facilitate the "work of worrying" and allow for the possibility of "working through" aspects of one's response to the oncoming danger before it actually occurs. Interventions of this kind should be useful to individuals after a stressful experience, as well.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 43-04, Section: B, page: 1264.