Israeli researchers think that ignoring trauma may be healthier than pouring out your heart to a psychiatrist (and they have a lot of stress over there, so they should know). “The findings of this study suggest that a repressive coping style may promote adjustment to traumatic stress, both in the short and longer term,” says Tel Aviv social worker Karni Ginzburg.
Ginzburg and colleagues studied 116 patients who were hospitalized for heart attacks and suffering anxiety about their brush with death. They compared them to 72 people who had not suffered heart attacks. He chose heart attack victims because, “The damage to the heart, with its symbolic meaning as the essence of the human being, may shatter the patient’s sense of wholeness and safety,” Ginzburg says.
The patients took standardized tests for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has symptoms such as distress, trauma flashbacks, difficulty carrying out everyday tasks, insomnia, and poor concentration. They were also asked questions about how they coped with stress?whether they ignored their anxiety or tended to dwell on it. People who repressed their anxiety had the lowest levels of PTSD. Ginzburg says, “Prior studies report that repressors tend to perceive themselves as competent, self-controlled and having adequate coping skills.”
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