There is definitely a link between warfare and trauma, because individual and societal suffering during all ages is omnipresent. For example, Germany still has to deal with individuals who have been victimized during World War II. Elderly in their retirements home wake up screaming because their past horrors come back in their dreams. Thus, collective traumas due to warfare influence those involved and the generation after.
Salutogenesis and Pathology
Well-being might superficially be defined as the absence of psychopathology; and psychopathology is described as ”problematic patterns of thoughts, feelings, or behaviours that disrupt an individual’s sense of well-being or social or occupational functioning”. Well-being is an umbrella term that includes features like happiness, prosperity, complete satisfaction, inner balance, meaning in life, self-actualisation, positive social exchange with others, self-acceptance, personal growth, environmental mastery and autonomy. Live span development studies point to different agents of well-being in regard to different age groups, individual or societal views, is related to gender, short- or long-term well-being and social economic status.
From the biopsychosocial perspective, salutogenesis is promoted by healthy alimentation, regular sport, hardy personality, resilience factors like the competency to set up and to arrange solutions, self-esteem and self-evaluation of one’s abilities, good communication and problem solving skills, marked emotion regulation capacity, supportive family, friends, society and positive role models. Other determinants of salutogenesis are idiosyncratic features like creativity and spirituality. Additionally, religious groups feature “comforting rituals and supportive social contact” including the individualistic concept of meaning in life. For example, natural wound healing seems to be increased in individuals who are deistic. Moreover for some individuals, religious faith increases one’s resilience by conforming to the norm and as such buffering against distress. A further agent to individual resilience is having overcome mild to moderate traumas, which helps to increase one’s coping skills. The same can be said for individuals who believe in themselves – their self-efficiency and self-control.
Lessons learned from the Vietnam War: Individual resilience due to the atrocities of war is increased by societal support of such a war. I have not found studies to evidence my previous statement, but I remember seeing pictures from Vietnam veterans coming finally back home and being called “baby killer” by fellow citizens. I felt awful for those soldiers. Here, lacking societal support has probably diminished resilience. Societal understanding, support, and an appreciation for their tremendous individual effort also in form of benefits and present services may already act as a preventive agent.
Biological entities, psychological phenomena, and the reciprocity of the human-environment relationship are at work in regard to mental well-being. Adverse social conditions like warfare may or may not culminate into mental health problems like trauma depending on existing or lacking biological, psychological and social determinates. Nevertheless, those who suffer need every support they can get from their society.
Yours, Beate Landgraf