Although war is a central setting in which men are judged by their success in meeting gendered societal expectations, literature regarding the effects of (a) exposure to a combat event and (b) combat-related posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) on a men's sense of masculinity is limited. The aim of the current study was to examine how Israeli veterans with PTSS perceived their masculinity as a result of the traumatic combat event. We also wished to better understand how they achieve their sense of manhood, while coping with PTSS, and the contributions of war and its aftermath to gender role stress in the Israeli context. A qualitative phenomenological study was conducted. Fourteen Israeli former combat soldiers with PTSS participated in comprehensive interviews in which common themes were identified via content analysis. The findings revealed two main changes in the veteran's sense of masculinity: (a) a crisis in achieving a sense of masculinity due to the traumatic event, and the veteran's self-perception as having failed to fulfill "manly" expectations, and (b) extremism in traditional masculine behaviors as compensation for that crisis. These findings point to how the PTSS-afflicted veteran's sense of manhood is affected by his perceptions of the ideal Israeli warrior, and how these perceptions contribute to a unique form of gender role stress: a narcissistic masculine wound, which may lead men to use violence and hypersexuality in an attempt to reclaim their masculinity. The role of attitudes toward traditional masculine norms in the process of treatment, change, and recovery is discussed.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies
- Social Psychology
- Applied Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies