Construction and initial validation of the South African Former Detainees' Distress Scale: An exploratory factor analysis
The experiences of South African political activists who were subjected to torture and abuse in detention during the apartheid era have often been conceptualised as traumatogenic. Various criticisms have been levelled against the trauma model, including the concern that it inappropriately pathologises persons who have experienced human rights violations. Sequelae to torture and abuse have been more appropriately considered to approximate non-pathological distress. The present study was undertaken to determine the factor structure of former detainees' current distress associated with having been abused in detention. In Stage 1 of the study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 participants. The qualitative data that emerged from these interviews were used to form the items of the South African Former Detainees' Distress Scale. In Stage 2, the scale was administered to 148 participants and the data were factor-analysed using principal components analysis with a varimax rotation. Four factors emerged from the analysis: Somatic Problems/Discontent, Emotional Distress, Lack of Acknowledgement and Despondency. These factors are discussed in the context of social developments in present-day South Africa. © Psychological Society of South Africa. All rights reserved.