The cycle of violence as a function of PTSD and appetitive aggression : A longitudinal study with Burundian soldiers
2020-09, Nandi, Corina, Crombach, Anselm, Elbert, Thomas, Bambonye, Manassé, Pryss, Rüdiger, Schobel, Johannes, Weierstall‐Pust, Roland
During deployment, soldiers face situations in which they are not only exposed to violence but also have to perpetrate it themselves. This study investigates the role of soldiers' levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and appetitive aggression, that is, a lust for violence, for their engaging in violence during deployment. Furthermore, factors during deployment influencing the level of PTSD symptoms and appetitive aggression after deployment were examined for a better comprehension of the maintenance of violence. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with 468 Burundian soldiers before and after a 1‐year deployment to Somalia. To predict violent acts during deployment (perideployment) as well as appetitive aggression and PTSD symptom severity after deployment (postdeployment), structural equation modeling was utilized. Results showed that the number of violent acts perideployment was predicted by the level of appetitive aggression and by the severity of PTSD hyperarousal symptoms predeployment. In addition to its association with the predeployment level, appetitive aggression postdeployment was predicted by violent acts and trauma exposure perideployment as well as positively associated with unit support. PTSD symptom severity postdeployment was predicted by the severity of PTSD avoidance symptoms predeployment and trauma exposure perideployment, and negatively associated with unit support. This prospective study reveals the importance of appetitive aggression and PTSD hyperarousal symptoms for the engagement in violent acts during deployment, while simultaneously demonstrating how these phenomena may develop in mutually reinforcing cycles in a war setting.