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Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Following the reestablishment of peace in war-torn Liberia, a door-to-door mental health epidemiological study sampling of 500 Liberian civil war survivors living in Monrovia was implemented in July 2010. Under the supervision of a clinical psychologist, surveys assessing demographics, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and war trauma experiences were administered to roughly equal numbers of men and women by volunteers working for a local nongovernmental organization. From an evolutionary perspective, two hypotheses were tested based on previous research findings that linked PTSD symptoms to olfactory experiences. First, it was predicted that olfactory-related trauma would be positively correlated to higher reports of intrusive traumatic memories. Second, it was predicted that olfactory-related trauma would be positively correlated to the number of reported symptoms of hyperarousal. A Pearson’s correlation analysis revealed that both hypotheses were supported at a p < .05 or better. Treatment implications for the use of olfactory stimuli in exposure therapy are discussed herein.

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