A quarter of students found the 2016 so traumatic they now report symptoms of PTSD, according to a new study.
Researchers surveyed Arizona State University students around the time of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, and some had stress scores on par with that of school shooting witnesses’ seven-month follow-ups.
Twenty-five percent of the 769 students, who were an even mix of genders and races and socioeconomic backgrounds, reported ‘clinically significant’ levels of stress.
The most severe cases were seen among women, black, and non-white Hispanic students, who were 45 percent more likely to feel distressed by the 2016 run between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
There is a reason many still believe psychology is not far removed from witch doctoring. And this paper is that reason.
The peer-reviewed paper is “Event-related clinical distress in college students: Responses to the 2016?U.S. Presidential election” by Melissa Hagan and a few others in Journal of American College Health.
“Did he say ‘Journal of American College Health‘?”
Yes, he did. A whole journal devoted to the well-being of our over-privileged tykes. Don’t miss the article “Understanding contributing factors to verbal coercion while studying abroad.”
Anyway, back to Melissa and her pals. The paper opens:
Although U.S. presidential elections occur every four years, the 2016 election was perhaps the most polarizing and emotionally evocative political event for young people in recent history.
Why does this verbiage sound like it came from the Youth Synod? Never mind.
The current study surveyed a diverse sample of college students 2-3 months after the election to examine: (1) perceived impact of the election on close relationships; (2) prevalence of subclinical and clinical election-related distress symptoms, including intrusion and avoidance; (3) demographic differences in these symptoms.
Clinical distress symptoms. As is real trauma. As in medication-eligible mental maladies. As in genuine sickness. Could this be real? Does it matter?
How did these wondrous findings come about? By asking questions with quantified unquantifiable answers. Among others:
Participants responded to the 15-item Impact of Event Scale (IES), a measure of stress responses to a significant life event. Prompted to keep the U.S. presidential election in mind, participants indicated how frequently each statement was true for them since the election, with response options from 1 (not true at all) to 4 (often true).
Although total IES scores on average did not exceed clinically significant levels (M = 18.65, SD = 15.72, Range: 0–69), 25.0% of students (n = 192) were above the cutoff for clinically significant event-related distress.
Clinically significant event-related distress. I repeat: clinically significant.
Then came the wee p-values (regressions; I’ve cut out the wee-p details):
Significant predictors of event-related distress included being female (compared to male), Democrat (compared to Republican), Independent or other party (compared to Republican), dissatisfied with the outcome, non-Christian or no religious affiliation (compared to Christian), and reporting either a positive or negative impact of the election on close relationships.
Golly, what, uh, surprises. We don’t need the wee ps to realize women, Democrats, etc. would answer differently than non-women, non-Democrats, etc. They said “We identified a high rate of event-related distress symptoms, with certain groups reporting particularly high intrusion and/or avoidance symptoms related to the election…When examined independently, females, racial minorities, those from the working and lower-middle social classes, Democrats, non-Christians, and sexual minorities reported significantly more event-related distress.”
Sadly, their “data do not allow us to identify the cause of the relatively high rate of symptoms”. But they suspect “issues of identity and social inequality” as the culprits.
They warn “The high rate of clinical distress symptoms suggests that college health practitioners be aware of the potential for the state of U.S. politics to profoundly affect students’ emotional health and consider this possibility when interfacing with students about the causes and consequences of stress.”
Coddling and babying and pacifying are the solutions, we guess.
They close by emphasizing they are seriously serious and that these are genuine health problems they’re discussing.
Approximately one-fourth of the sample met suggested criteria for clinically significant distress, which is concerning because elevated event related stress is predictive of future distress and subsequent PTSD diagnoses.
Donald Trump caused PTSD diagnoses?
Glorious, if true. Alas, if it did, it leads us to suspect the veracity of PTSD diagnoses, or of the truthfulness of the kiddies when crying over spilt electoral votes, or the integrity of academics crying “clinically significant.”