Psychophysiologic responses to the Rorschach in PTSD patients, noncombat and combat controls

David A. Goldfinger, Richard L. Amdur, Israel Liberzon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


While psychophysiologic studies of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have investigated the effects of trauma-related stimuli on arousal, none have explored the development of intrusive imagery and affect states in the absence of such specific cues. The present study compares autonomic arousal during PTSD-related Rorschach responses in PTSD veterans vs. combat controls and noncombat controls. It was found that Rorschach responses containing traumatic content were found only in the PTSD group, and that these responses showed elevations in skin conductance (SC) and heart rate (HR). Our data also suggest that PTSD patients are more easily hyperaroused, especially under conditions of experienced stress and helplessness. Finally, combat control subjects exhibited lower baseline SC and HR than their counterparts, as well as decelerated HR during trauma- and stress-related Rorschach responses, suggesting a physiologic resilience in this group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-120
Number of pages9
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998


  • Assessment
  • Combat veterans
  • Heart rate
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder, PTSD
  • Psychophysiology
  • Rorschach
  • Skin conductance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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