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Title:The Journey Back to the World: Exploring the Psychological Effect of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Vietnam War Combat Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Author(s):Watkins, Nicholas Jay
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kathryn Anthony
Department / Program:Architecture
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Landscape Architecture
Abstract:Experiencing a memorial might reduce symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study examines the relevance of memorials for recovery from trauma by exploring how the Vietnam Veterans Memorial might help Vietnam War combat veterans suffering from PTSD deal with and recover from their PTSD. 62 male Vietnam War combat veterans (Mean age=58) were divided into an experimental group who went on a Vet Center sponsored therapy trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (N=32) and a control group that did not go (N=30). A longitudinal, quasi-experiment was conducted using standardized measures of PTSD severity and trauma including the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) and the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20). An additional measure, the Experiencing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Scale (EVVMS) assessed how helpful design features of the Memorial were for helping veterans deal with and recover from their PTSD. When analyzing amount of prior exposure to the Memorial, veterans exhibited statistically significant differences on IES-R factors. These results suggested that visiting the Memorial more than once can cause a decrease in PTSD symptomology. Also, like bad tasting medicine, multiple visits to the Memorial can keep PTSD symptomology in check. No statistically significant main effects or interactions were found for the five week duration of the study. However, trends of marginal statistical significance did appear for EVVMS factors. Path analysis of EVVMS data collected from the experimental group one week and one month after the trip to the Memorial explored features of a conceptual model predicting the helpfulness of the Memorial to the veterans for dealing with and recovery from their PTSD. This study found that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial provides an effective, free, and publicly accessible means for veterans to confront and disclose their losses while earning recognition for their sacrifices. Also, experiences with the Memorial change with repeated visits and might reflect transitions through stages of the mourning process. Since the Memorial is an effective catalyst or medium through which to confront losses, it offers veterans a chance to sense and approach the losses that underlie their PTSD symptoms.
Issue Date:2006
Description:319 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2006.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3243021
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2006

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