Imaginal flooding as a supplemental treatment for Vietnam veterans suffering re-experiencing stress

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

A delayed type of combat-related disorder among Vietnam veterans has resulted in increasing numbers of such veterans seeking mental health assistance and the inclusion of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a new classification in the DSM III. With symptoms of re-experiencing, emotional numbing, hyper-alertness, sleep disturbance, survival guilt and avoidance, PTSD can be extremely disruptive of social, intellectual, and occupational functioning. While imaginal flooding of combat scenes has been shown to dramatically reduce PTSD symptomatology, the only supporting evidence published to date has been case studies. This is the first controlled study of the treatment using a clinical sample of the population. Subjects were sixteen male Vietnam combat—exposed veterans who sought out patient treatment at the VAMC in Salem, Virginia. Aged 33 to 40, they all suffered from PTSD. A yoked design was utilized in which one group (£;8) received a supplemental flooding treatment and the other (ns=8) did not. All subjects received standard hospital out patient treatment which generally consisted of both Vietnam Veteran group and individual therapy.