Intergenerational transmission of trauma: a study with families of Portuguese ex-soldiers(2021-2023)

integrated investigators: Rute Brites (IR), Odete Nunes, João Hipólito, Tânia Brandão, António Correia

The impact of war on the mental health of (former) combatants is widely described in the literature. Studies show that they have a significantly higher risk for developing mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Likewise, in the Portuguese context, the data show that colonial war veterans and military personnel participating in international peace missions tend to have psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.

The harmful effects of the war also have repercussions in terms of the interpersonal functioning of these combatants, especially at the family level, with implications related to intimacy and communication, marital satisfaction and stability, parental competences, among others. Some studies developed with the families of these soldiers point to the existence of secondary traumatization, ie, the presence of symptoms and mental health problems in the women and children, resulting from the continued interaction with the soldiers. However, the literature highlights the need to carry out further investigations into the mechanisms underlying this transmission of trauma, with particular emphasis on the transmission of trauma to children through the mother. This project – of mixed methodology – aims to examine the association between the presence of PTSD in war fighters/military and the mental health of their companions and their descendants (symptomatology and existence of secondary trauma); to assess the mechanisms underlying the transmission of trauma, namely the role of emotion regulation and memories related to parenting practices in childhood; understand, in depth, the impact of PTSD on family dynamics

en_GBEnglish (UK)