Date of Award

1994

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

J. Donald Ragsdale

Abstract

The literature has long reported the atypical stress-producing characteristics of the Vietnam conflict. For veterans still suffering from the psychological and emotional "fall-out" of war-related anxiety, one long-term adjustment dysfunction is the difficulty PTSD-positive veterans experience in sustaining successful interpersonal relationships. Competent dyadic communication plays a critical role in engendering positive relational trajectories. This study investigated the hypothesis that posttraumatic stress disorder would exhibit a correlational relationship with the relational communication topoi of intimacy and dominance/control. A cross-regional sample of 218 PTSD-positive veterans and their relational partners provided data. Scale construction and validation was achieved through orthogonal factor analysis with varimax rotation. The resulting factor structure confirmed an interdependent relationship between the relational topoi of intimacy and dominance/control for this population. This study provides empirical evidence that a strong correlational relationship exists between PTSD symptomatology and difficulties in accessing communication strategies which engendered feelings of intimacy reflected through an overall decline in intimacy and relational satisfaction. A correlated relationship was reported between PTSD and the use of communication strategies designed to dominate or control the communication exchange. This relationship was much stronger for relational partners than for the veterans. PTSD-positive veterans were more reticent to abandon communication strategies which were designed to retain control or dominate the exchange than their relational partners. Finally, implications for the extension of communication research into the impact of stress on relational communication are discussed.

Pages

170

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