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Psychological effects of extreme situations in law enforcement officers and civilians
Budykin S.V., PhD Student, Department of Clinical and Legal Psychology, Faculty of Legal Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, email@example.com
Dvoryanchikov N.V., Ph.D. in Psychology, associate professor, dean, faculty of legal psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, firstname.lastname@example.org
We present a study of mental consequences of extreme situations in law enforcement officers and civilians. (Participants were: 20 law enforcement officers whose work is related to the expected socio- and technogenic risk and 20 civilians who have faced such extreme situations like car accident). We tested the hypothesis that extreme situations have multidirectional impact on personality and have different psychological consequences. We revealed that some coping strategies contribute to post-traumatic personal growth (rethinking), others contribute to overcoming PTSD, still others contribute to the development of PTSD (negation). Seeking for emotional and instrumental social support prevents both PTSD and post-traumatic personal growth. Coping strategies increase personality resilience (active coping, acceptance, emotional reactions, reference to religion, use of humor). In law enforcement officers, post-traumatic growth as a result of extreme situations is significantly more pronounced, that is, they extract positive experience and “digest” the traumatic experience of extreme situations more successfully. In addition, they have significantly higher vitality, its indicators such as involvement and confidence in control of significant life events. Traumatic experience appears to them as “psychological trainer” to a greater extent than for civilians.
Keywords: PTSD, resilience, coping strategies, coping behavior, extreme situations.