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Depression Research and Treatment
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 204741, 6 pages
Research Article

Personality and Major Depression among Directly Exposed Survivors of the Oklahoma City Bombing

1The VA North Texas Health Care System, Division of Emergency Medicine, Departments of Psychiatry and Surgery, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 6363 Forest Park Road, Suite 651, Dallas, TX 75390-8828, USA
2Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA

Received 28 June 2012; Accepted 17 August 2012

Academic Editor: Toshinori Kitamura

Copyright © 2012 Carol S. North and C. Robert Cloninger. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Few disaster studies have specifically examined personality and resilience in association with disaster exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and major depression. Methods. 151 directly-exposed survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing randomly selected from a bombing survivor registry completed PTSD, major depression, and personality assessments using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for DSM-IV and the Temperament and Character Inventory, respectively. Results. The most prevalent postdisaster psychiatric disorder was bombing-related PTSD (32%); major depression was second in prevalence (21%). Bombing-related PTSD was associated with the combination of low self-directedness and low cooperativeness and also with high self-transcendence and high harm avoidance in most configurations. Postdisaster major depression was significantly more prevalent among those with (56%) than without (5%) bombing-related PTSD (P<.001) and those with (72%) than without (14%) predisaster major depression (P<.001). Incident major depression was not associated with the combination of low self-directedness and low cooperativeness. Conclusions. Personality features can distinguish resilience to a specific life-threatening stressor from general indicators of well-being. Unlike bombing-related PTSD, major depression was not a robust marker of low resilience. Development and validation of measures of resilience should utilize well-defined diagnoses whenever possible, rather than relying on nonspecific measures of psychological distress.