Personality and major depression among directly exposed survivors of the oklahoma city bombing

Carol S. North, C. Robert Cloninger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number204741
JournalDepression Research and Treatment
Publication statusPublished - 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this