Traumatic experiences stemming from ‘Kuki’-Meitei bloody clashDeath anxiety among displaced inmates in burning Sanaleibak-Kangleipak

Chakpram Purnima Devi  (UGC’s Junior Research Fellow Independent)
Contd from previous issue
Strictly speaking, dreams are hallucination, flashbacks (a recurrence of a memory, or the experience of reliving an episode from the past,) intense distress and physiological reactions to response to anything reminiscent of the traumatic event, evidence of persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, heightened arousal manifested in insomnia, irritability, difficulty concentrating, among others.[96][3]
 DSM-V introduced a preschool subtype of PTSD for children ages 6 years and younger, with exposure to a traumatic or stressful event as a diagnostic criterion. The criteria that are specific to adults, adolescents and children older than 6 years for the diagnosis of PTSD include: Criterion A: Stressor(1 symptom out of 4required);Criterion B: Intrusion Symptoms(1 out of 5 required);Criterion C: Avoidance (1 out of 2 required), Criterion D: Negative Alterations in Cognitions and Mood (2 out of 7 required); Criterion E; Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity(2 required out of 6); Criterion F: Duration (symptoms last for more than one month); Criterion G: Functional Significance (symptoms create distress or functional impairment ;e.g., social, occupational); and Criterion H:Exclusion (symptoms are not due to medication, substance used, or other illness).[90]
PTSD is a mental and behavior disorder[89] that develops from experiencing a traumatic event, such as warfare, sexual, traffic collisions, child abuse, domestic violence, or other threats on a person’s life.[90]Higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may occur in regions of armed conflict.[97]It is more common in women than in men.[98]PTSD was known under various terms, including ‘shell shock’, ‘war nerves’, neurasthenia and ‘combat neurosis’.[99]Trauma survivors often develop depression, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders in addition to PTSD.[100]
Persons considered at risk include: combat military personnel, survivors of natural disasters, concentration camp survivors, and survivors of violent crime. Persons employed in occupations that expose them to violence (such as soldiers) or disasters (such as emergency service workers) are also at risk.[101]The rates of PTSD might be lower in children than adults, but in the absence of therapy, symptoms may continue for decades.[102]
Other occupations at an increased risk include: police officers, firefighters, ambulance personnel, health care professionals, train drivers, divers, journalists, and sailors, as well as people who work at banks, post offices or in store.[103]
PTSD symptom is generally begun within the first 3 months after the inciting traumatic event, but may not begin until years later.[90][98]
PTSD is experienced following traumatic event.[104]The risk of developing PTSD is increased in individuals who are exposed to physical abuse, physical assault, or kidnapping.[105]Women who experience physical violence are more likely to develop PTSD than men.[105] Study also found strong correlation between the developments of PTSD in mothers that experienced domestic violence during the prenatal period of their pregnancy[106]
Those who experience prolonged trauma, such as slavery, concentration camps, or chronic domestic abuse, may develop complete post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). C-PTSD) is similar to PTSD, but has distinct effect on a person’s emotional regulation and core identity.[107]Studies found a linkage between PTSD and nightmares with, 50 to 70%.[108-109].Symptoms of PTSD last for more than a month after the event.[90] Young children are less likely to show distress, but instead may express their memories through play. A person with PTSD is at a higher risk of suicide and intentional self-harm.[97][110]
Men are more likely to experience a traumatic event (of any type), but women are more likely to experience the kind of high-impact traumatic event that can lead to PTSD, such as interpersonal violence and sexual assault.PTSD among children, wherein the rates of PTSD might be lower in children than adults, but in the absence of therapy, symptoms may continue for decades.[102]
Studies found that death anxiety effects PTSD; the more death anxiety, the more severity of PTSD symptoms.[111] A study found that death anxiety predicted the severity of PTSD symptoms among people with spinal cord injury.[112] Other studies found that death anxiety predicted both overall PTSD severity as well as the severity for three main clusters of PTSD symptoms (i.e., re-experiencing, avoidance, &hyperarousal) among patients with HIV.[113]Studies found that refugees are at an increased risk of PTSD due to their exposure to war, hardships, and traumatic events. The rates for PTSD within refugee population ranged from 4% to 86%.[114], while the stresses of war affect everyone involved, displaced people have been shown to be more so than others.[115]
Studies on Traumatic Experiences and Death Anxiety
Several studies have revealed a significant relationship between death anxiety and life-threatening traumatic experiences. For example,Unexpected Death of a Loved one and Psychiatric Disorders although any death of a loved one can be emotionally devastating, unexpected deaths provoke especially strong responses, as there is less time to prepare for and adapt to the death.[116-118] Throughout the lifespan, unexpected death of a loved one is associated with the development of depression and anxiety symptoms, and other psychiatric disorders.[119-121] A study also reported that unexpected death of a loved one may be a substantial risk factor for the onset of a manic episode, especially among older alcohol disorder, and a higher proportion of participants reported unexpected death as their worst experience than for any other traumatic experiences.[122] It was also found that the heightened incidence risk was observable from childhood through late adulthood for major depression, PTSD, and panic disorder, and was particularly concentrated in older age groups for manic episodes, phobias, etc.[122]
Considering the findings of the studies, it can be said that the unexpected death of a loved one could be one of the worst traumatic experiences in one’s life. This was/is what was/is happening in the present Kuki-Meitei Clash.
The results on the association between traumatic experiences and death anxiety indicated that,in 1985, the Gender chartered airliner crashed on take-off, following a refuelling stop, killing 48 U.S. Army soldiers. The study focused on people, such as community residents, or disaster helpers, not on people who were on board. The Gender aircrash put helpers and others (e.g., grieving families, commanders of the lost troops and soldiers who arrived safely on other flights, service providers who worked closely with bereaved families, chaplains, mental health workers and mortuary workers, school personnel, and some members of social organizations or authorities) at great risk of becoming secondary victims.[123-124] Six months later, many assistance officers who were involved with helping families affected by the Gender aircrash reported symptoms, such as headaches, nervousness or tenseness, sleep disturbance, general aches and pains, common colds, depressed moods, and feeling tired/lacking energy. One year later, on the whole, all of the above symptoms had almost doubled in severity[125] and other helpers, such as police officers and fire personnel had been traumatized through viewing, smelling, and touching dead bodies.[126]
Another study on the Lockerbie air disaster in 1988, in which Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in mid-air, killing all on board – its wreckage and burning aviation fuel fell onto the Lockerbie community, killing 11 residents. And another was the EI AI Boeing 747-F air disaster in 1992, which crashed into two apartment buildings in Bijlmermeer, Amsterdam, killing 43 people and causing 260 people to lose their homes. The findings on the whole showed that people could consequently manifest post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or partial PTSD, panic and anxiety disorder, and depression.[127-130] Some of these victims still suffered from PTSD after 6 months.[131] Research also showed that various types of helpers can suffer from psychological distress by being involved in disaster rescue operations.[132-135]