Personality characteristics

The pre- and post-conflict personality characteristics of refugees that increase resiliency and reduce psychiatric distress and disability are not known. While certain demographic characteristics have been associated with negative traumatic outcomes, these characteristics may be confounded by other risk factors. Women, especially widows, seem especially vulnerable to negative refugee effects. UNICEF has extensively reviewed those risk factors associated with the vulnerability of refugee children and adolescents.(22) Data from Bosnian refugees correspondingly reveals the high rates of disability associated with trauma and psychiatric comorbidity in the elderly. Lessons learned from studies of political prisoners in Turkey reveal the importance of a well-established political world view as a major protection against the long-term human suffering associated with torture.(23) Studies of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal confirm the possible protective function of Buddhism in devout refugee practitioners of this religion.(20) Anecdotal reports by refugees themselves consistently confirm the emotional safety that they have found in their spiritual and religious beliefs and practices. Finally, recent research findings concur with the earlier research in concentration camp survivors and prisoners of war that prior psychiatric history and premorbid personality factors may have little effect on the psychiatric sequelae of traumatic refugee experiences.

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