Measuring historical trauma in an American Indian Community Sample: Contributions of substance dependence, affective disorder, conduct disorder and PTSD
Historical trauma is a term used to describe the intergenerational collective experience of complex trauma that was inflicted on a group of people who share a specific group identity or affiliation such as a nationality, religious affiliation or ethnicity. The construct of historical trauma has been used as both a description of trauma responses among a particular group of individuals as well as a potential causative factor for long-term distress among communities. This study focuses on historical trauma in an American Indian community. Three hundred and six (306) American Indian adults participated. Over half of them indicated that they thought about historical losses at least occasionally, and that it caused them distress. Results showed that significant increases in how often a person thought about historical losses were associated with: not being married, high degrees of Native Heritage, and high cultural identification. Additionally, anxiety/affective disorders and substance dependence were correlated with historical loss associated symptoms. This study provides compelling evidence that in this American Indian community thoughts about historical losses and their associated symptomatology are common and that the presence of these thoughts are associated with high degrees of Native American Heritage and cultural identification, and substance dependence.