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Abstract

This study examines the implication of both sensation seeking and the subjective appraisal of captivity in the long-term adjustment of ex-prisoners of war (ex-POWs). 164 Israeli ex-POWs and 184 comparable controls were studied, 18 years after their participation in the Yom Kippur War. The findings indicate that high-sensation seekers adjusted better than low-sensation seekers to the stresses of captivity. Low-sensation-seeking ex-POWs reported more PTSD symptoms, more severe psychiatric symptomatology, and more intense intrusive and avoidance tendencies. High- and low-sensation-seeking POWs differed also in feelings when taken prisoner, subjective assessment of suffering in prison, ways of coping with prison, and emotional states during captivity. The present study supports the postulation that sensation seeking is an important stress-buffering personal resource. The role of coping styles in long-term adjustment following war captivity is discussed.