Individuals who have served in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have likely been exposed to combat stress. Existing literature has consistently demonstrated the negative impact of combat stress as a risk factor for post-deployment health issues, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One significant, but less studied area that may be affected by the experience of deployment and/or PTSD symptoms is the individual’s engagement in pleasurable, leisure activities or “play”. Clinical and empirical observations have typically focused on PTSD symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing, contributing to an individual’s loss of interest or participation in pleasurable activities. In contrast, there is literature suggesting that individuals with deployment history or PTSD may actually seek out activities that are risky or that provide an intense level of physiological and psychological arousal. This study qualitatively examined leisure and play among a sample of OEF/OIF Veterans, exploring both possible avoidance and seeking of intense or risky leisure experiences. Findings support the proposed dichotomy, such that there appears to be a subset of this sample that seek to simulate the “rush” experienced in combat by engaging in intense, risky activities, while other Veterans in this sample tend to avoid participation in such activities due to depression or anxiety. Future research could examine whether increased access to safe, affordable leisure activities may address these issues and promote psychological and physical well-being.
|Commitee:||Brenner, Lisa A., Grigsby, Jim|
|School:||University of Colorado at Denver|
|Department:||Psychology (Clinical Psychology)|
|School Location:||United States -- Colorado|
|Source:||MAI 51/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Mental health, Military studies, Recreation|
|Keywords:||Leisure, Mental health, OEF/OIF veterans, PTSD, Qualitative|
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