Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. R. Wayne Fuqua

Second Advisor

Dr. Michele Burnette

Third Advisor

Dr. Malcolm Robertson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David Sluyter


Many Vietnam veterans experience intrusive recollections of combat-related events in the form of nightmares and flashbacks, a primary symptom of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Imaginai flooding has shown some promise in reducing the frequency and intensity of these. Cognitive- behavioral therapies have also been used, but their effectiveness has not been studied. Experiment 1 attempted to determine whether a self-imposed version of imaginai flooding (called Self-Imaginai Flooding) could be used rather than the usual therapist-led procedure, and whether treatment effects could generalize from the treated to untreated intrusive memories. In a between groups design, with six Vietnam veteran subjects in each group, the effects of Self-Imaginai Flooding were compared with Relaxation Only. Following relaxation training for both groups, three intrusive memories were presented for treatment to the Flooding Group in a multiple baseline fashion. The Relaxation Group received extended relaxation training. Probes, in which subjective and physiological measures were obtained, were conducted prior to treatment, after relaxation training, and following treatment of each of the three intrusive memories. Results indicated that Self- Imaginal Flooding was more effective than Relaxation Only in reducing the frequency and intensity of intrusive memories outside of treatment, neither anxiety nor depression were decreased, generalization of treatment effects did not occur, and EDG was the only physiological measure which changed significantly as a result of the Self-Imaginai Flooding treatment. In Experiment 2, six subjects were taught the Self-Imaginai Flooding technique and four cognitive- behavioral coping strategies. Subjects received training for each of these techniques and selected one strategy for extended practice. Probes, similar to those in Experiment 1, were conducted before and after training. The results showed that strategy preferences were related to the amount of discomfort reduction. In addition, there were significant within-group decreases in the frequency of intrusive memories and measures of anxiety and depression. As measured in the probes, self-selected coping strategies were more effective than previously used coping methods in reducing subjective discomfort and heart rates. The implications of the results of both experiments are discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access