Bachelor thesis:
Long-term consequences of political imprisonment and torture in Estonia

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2009
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Rebassoo, Piret
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Abstract
The present study aims to examine long-term consequences of political repression during the Soviet occupation of Estonia. Psychopathological variables such as diagnoses of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression as well as positive results -conceptualized as â posttraumatic growthâ - were assessed in this study. Assessment of factors related to onset and retention of PTSD symptoms included individual characteristics, objective and subjective detention-related variables, lifetime exposure to traumatic events and aspects of environment after imprisonment. In addition, satisfaction with current reparation services in the Republic of Estonia was explored.
The sample consisted of a group of former political prisoners (N = 33, mean age 78.5 years) who had been arrested during the second Soviet occupation in Estonia (1944-1991). The participants were selected through organizations for former political prisoners. PTSD and major depression were assessed by means of a structured clinical interview (CIDI). Self-rating measures were used to assess the traumatic conditions during imprisonment, rate level of disclosure about traumatic experiences, measure satisfaction with reparation services and determine posttraumatic growth.
Lifetime PTSD was diagnosed in 9.4 % of participants, current PTSD in 3.1 % and current depression in 9.4 % of the sample. The strongest predictor for current and lifetime PTSD symptoms was the perceived life threat during imprisonment. Persecution after release also predicted the maintenence of PTSD symptoms. Higher age of participants, higher frequency of traumatic encounters, political activity of the participants prior to arrest and disclosure about traumatic events were related to higher PTSD symptom level. The overall satisfaction with reparation as well as the posttraumatic growth index was high in this sample.
These findings suggest that the long-term psychological consequences of political imprisonment which persist into old age are related to a number of factors. The possible reasons for low rates of PTSD in this sample are discussed in the context of PTSD risk factors with emphasis given to the possible role of psychological preparedness, disclosure and social support. Limitations concerning recruitment bias, long-term interval between imprisonment and data collection and cross-sectional nature of the study are also discussed.
Summary in another language
Die vorliegende Studie untersuchte die langfristigen Folgen der politischen Repressionen der sowjetischen Okkupation in Estland. Gemessen wurden psychopathologische Variablen wie Diagnosen der Posttraumatischen Belastungsstörung (PTBS) und Major Depression sowie positive Folgeerscheinungen konzipiert als posttraumatische Reifung. Im Zusammenhang mit dem Auftreten und der Aufrechterhaltung der PTBS Symptome wurden die soziodemographischen Merkmale, objektive und subjektive Merkmale der Inhaftierung, Zahl der traumatischen Lebenserfahrungen und Aspekte der Umwelt nach der Inhaftierung betrachtet. Darüber hinaus wurde die Zufriedenheit mit dem derzeitigen Stand der Wiedergutmachung in der Republik Estland erkundet.
Die Stichprobe bestand aus einer Gruppe von ehemaligen politischen Gefangenen (N = 33, Durchschnittsalter 78.5 Jahre), die während der zweiten sowjetischen Okkupation in Estland (1944-1991) verhaftet worden waren. Die Teilnehmer wurden durch die Organisationen für die ehemaligen politischen Gefangenen rekrutiert. PTSD und Major Depression wurden anhand eines strukturierten klinischen Interviews (CIDI) gemessen. Self-Rating-Maà nahmen wurden für die Bewertung der traumatischen Bedingungen während der Haft, der Offenlegung von traumatischen Erfahrungen, der Zufriedenheit mit der Wiedergutmachung und der posttraumatischen Reifung verwendet.
Die Lebenszeitprävalenz von PTBS in dieser Stichprobe war 9.4 %, die 12-Monats-Prävalenz von PTBS 3.1 % und die 12-Monats-Prävalenz von Major Depression 9.4 %. Der stärkste Prädiktor der PTBS Symptomen war die wahrgenommene Lebensbedrohung während der Inhaftierung. Auch Verfolgung nach der Entlassung sagt die Aufrechterhaltung der PTBS Symptome vorher. Höheres Alter der Teilnehmer, mehr traumatische Erfahrungen, politische Aktivität der Teilnehmer vor der Festnahme sowie Offenlegung von traumatischen Ereignissen hängen zusammen mit höherer Symptomzahl der PTBS. Die allgemeine Zufriedenheit mit der Wiedergutmachung sowie die Messung des posttraumatischen Wachstums waren hoch.
Diese Ergebnisse deuten darauf hin, dass die langfristigen psychologischen Folgen der politischen Haft, die bis ins hohe Alter andauern, mit einer Reihe von Faktoren zusammenhängen können. Die möglichen Gründe für die geringe Raten von PTBS in dieser Stichprobe werden in dem Kontext der Risikofaktoren der PTBS diskutiert, mit dem Schwerpunkt auf die mögliche Rolle der psychologischen Vorbereitung, die Offenlegung und der sozialen Unterstützung. Diskutiert werden auch die Einschränkungen dieser Studie in Bezug auf die
Subject (DDC)
150 Psychology
Keywords
trauma , post-traumatic stress disorder , Estonia , political imprisonment , GULAG , long-term psychological consequences
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Cite This
ISO 690REBASSOO, Piret, 2009. Long-term consequences of political imprisonment and torture in Estonia [Bachelor thesis]
BibTex
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  year={2009},
  title={Long-term consequences of political imprisonment and torture in Estonia},
  author={Rebassoo, Piret}
}
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