Comorbidity of psychiatric disorders and personality profiles of american world war II prisoners of war

Brian E. Engdahl, Nancy Speed, Raina E. Eberly, Joseph Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


To characterize the effects of trauma sustained more than 40 years ago, prevalence of psychiatric disorders and personality dimensions were examined in a sample of 62 former World War II POWs. The negative effects of their experiences are reflected in their multiple lifetime diagnoses and in their current personality profiles. Fifty percent met DSM-III posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) criteria within 1 year of release; 18 (29%) continued to meet the criteria 40 years later at examination (chronic PTSD). A lifetime diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder was found for over half the entire sample; in 42% of those who never had PTSD, 38% of those with recovery from PTSD, and 94% of those with chronic PTSD. Ten percent of those without a PTSD diagnosis had experienced a depressive disorder, as had 23% of those with recovery from PTSD and 61% of the POWs with chronic PTSD. The combination of depressive and anxiety disorders also was frequent in the total sample (61%). Current MMPIs of three groups with psychiatric diagnoses were compared with those of POWs who had no diagnoses and with a group of Minnesota normal men. Profile elevations for the groups, from highest to lowest, were: POWs with chronic PTSD, POWs with recovery from PTSD, POWs with other psychiatric diagnoses, POWs with no disorders, and Minnesota normal men. Symptoms of anxiety, depression, and somatic concerns combined with the personality styles of suppression and denial characterize the current adjustment of negatively affected POWs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1991


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