Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry


Approximately 400,000 Vietnamese fled by boat from their homeland to the United States during the years 1975 to 1985. Many of these people were brutally attacked by pirates during their sojourn. This paper is a preliminary investigation of various ramifications of this trauma in seven Vietnamese "boat people."

We found significant psychopathology which is temporally related to the pirate attacks in two of those interviewed and a prominent absence of survivor guilt in all of those interviewed. Factors such as mastery of previous trauma, advanced knowledge of potential traumata, empowerment fantasies, religious beliefs, and altruistic actions may have helped people to cope successfully during the pirate attacks. Retelling of their story to others, religious sentiments, contact with other victims of these attacks and a strong future orientation may help people cope with their distress subsequent to the attacks.

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