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
In a study conducted in Manipur in 2002 on the significant differences in death anxiety among 365 subjects, with 177 of them from Imphal (a Disturbed area under AFSPA, 1958) and 188 respondents from Pune (a peaceful area), it was found that students from Imphal scored higher on death anxiety than those of Pune.[136]
A study conducted to identify whether long-term habituation to insecure stressful environments, such as chronic civil war, would ever time decrease death anxiety levels in a population, measuring in 7 samples of Kuwaiti college undergraduates from 1988 to 2002, covering the interval both before and after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait using the Templer’s Death Anxiety Scale (DAS). The findings indicated significant increases in death anxiety scores for three testings following the Iraqi invasion – a time characterized by increased violence and the loss of human rights, and again following liberation from Iraqis, a time characterized by transition.[137]
A significant correlation between death anxiety and suicidal tendency was found, in which the higher the death anxiety level, the greater the suicidal risk was.[138]
Study also found a lingering fear of death to be linked to individuals experiencing traumatic encounters with death[139] and the fear of death was positively related to the loss of significant others.[140]
One study showed that people terminally ill with cancer tended to have significantly higher death anxiety scores than orthopedically ill patients.[141] HIV victims were also found to manifest significant correlations between death anxiety or depression and state-trait anxiety and clinical depression .[142]
On the other hand, some studies suggested that, on the whole, after having experienced near-death experiences, people tended to become less fearful of death.[143] A study reported that 41% of survivors of life-threatening accidents or illnesses claimed that their fear of death had reduced since the accident or illness.[144] Studies also indicated that patients with terminal cancer had lower death anxiety scores than those who did not have cancer.[145-146] People who had experienced a life-threatening cardiac arrest were found to lose much of their fear of dying immediately after the event, as opposed to those who did not have such a near-death experience.[147] A study also reported that among 49 people who had near-death experiences, 80% claimed that their fear of death had decreased or vanished entirely, as opposed to 29% of a control sample of non-near-death experience participants.[148]
Although there seems to be some mixed results on the correlation between traumatic experiences and death anxiety, several studies revealed a significant relationship between death anxiety and psychological stress. Death despair, death loneliness, death dread, death sadness, death depression, and death finality were correlated positively with death anxiety general depression, and general anxiety.[149]
What are the possible Anxiety Disorders among Displaced Inmates?
Some of the anxiety disorders that are likely to affect psycho-physical aspects of individuals who were experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event(s) involving actual or threatened death or serious injury to self or others are cited as under:
Separation Anxiety: Separation anxiety is the normal fear or apprehension of infants when separated from their mothers or other major attachment figures, or when approached by strangers usually most clearly evident between 6 and 10 months of age, or in later life.[3]
Though separation anxiety disorder is the most common type of anxiety disorder in children, it affects males and females equally and it is more common among people who have experienced a traumatic event. Study reported that about 75% of children with separation anxiety refused to attend school.
Separation Anxiety Disorder: This is a ‘mental disorder’ (a psychological syndrome associated with distress, impairment, etc.) with onset before age 18 years, characterized by excessive separation anxiety relating to separation from home or from major attachment figures. Symptoms (to satisfy the diagnostic criteria) must persist for at least 4 weeks and must cause clinically significant distress or social, academic, or occupational problems. The symptoms may include: refusal to attend school, refusal to sleep alone, repeated nightmares about separation, unrealistic fear of losing major attachment figures, and complaints of somatic symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, or vomiting when separation is threatened.[3]
Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is one of the most common childhood anxiety disorders. It involves significant distress when the child is unexpectedly separated from home or a close attachment figure (e.g., parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, peer group, etc.).[150] It may be mentioned that according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders (DSM-IV Edition), separation anxiety disorders were limited to the diagnosis of SAD  to children and adolescents; however, in the DSM-V Edition, the diagnosis was extended to include adults first diagnosed  with SAD in  adulthood .[150] One difference in diagnosis between children and adults was: in the case of children, the attachment figures are usually adults, such as parents, whereas adults experience anxiety due to actual or anticipated separation from children, spouses, or romantic partners.[151]