This article explores how combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience relationships with other veterans. It also seeks to understand further what the possible effects of these relationships might be on a veteran’s psychological health and well-being.
Using a dialogical narrative approach, this original research explored how combat veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder made sense of peer relationships with other veterans and what effects these relationships had on their well-being. Interviews and participant observations were conducted with 15 male combat veterans (aged 27-60 years) and one member of the civilian emergency services, the majority of whom were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following traumatic exposure in a range of armed conflicts. All participants were part of a surfing charity for veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. Data were rigorously analysed using a dialogical narrative analysis (DNA). Findings revealed the collective story that veterans used to make sense of peer relationships within the group. This collective story worked for the veterans to shape their experiences of well-being by fostering camaraderie, stimulating deeper connections and countering the negative effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. Potential therapeutic effects of the collective story were also identified. This article extends previous knowledge on combat veterans and social relationships and advances the field of narrative health psychology through the empirical application of a sophisticated dialogical narrative approach.
Caddick, N., Phoenix, C. & Smith, B., (2015). Collective stories and well-being: Using a dialogical narrative approach to understand peer relationships among combat veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Health Psychology, 20(3), 286-299.