Identity Transformation and Posttraumatic Growth Following Traumatic Brain Injury and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder An Autoethnographic Inquiry
Identity Transformation and Posttraumatic Growth Following Traumatic Brain Injury and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder provides an autoethnographic qualitative study that portrays the author’s recovery from a devastating life-changing event – a car crash resulting in the hybrid diagnosis of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), leading to posttraumatic growth (PTG) and identity transformation over a ten-year recovery period. In so doing, the text offers a comprehensive literature review on TBI, PTSD, PTG and disability culture. Throughout, the author explores whether growth (PTG) and distress (PTSD) and whether TBI and PTSD can co-exist.
Having lost her ability to read and write, the author had to learn how to learn, to heal and to have faith again. As a licensed trauma therapist and researcher, she collected self-observational data by writing her actual behaviors, thoughts and emotions in real time, both in a field and a process journal, even before she could write in full sentences. The many symptoms and co-morbidities of TBI and PTSD and the tenets of PTG are portrayed as they evolved in recovery showing the behaviors and characteristics of each. The text refers to actual journal entries, medical records and clinical notes from rehabilitation specialists, alternating between her clinical analysis and interpretation. The findings show that tragedy and suffering can lead to growth and positive change (PTG) after TBI, even though the precipitating trauma and psychological distress (PTSD) may persist for years. Changes are seen in self-perception, interpersonal relationships and philosophies of life.
This chronicled account of the author’s emergent recovery from patient to doctor is intended to benefit neuro-rehabilitation service providers (neuropsychologists, primary care physicians, speech-language pathologists) and also mental health clinicians who can see the evolution of PTG for what is now the new next step for many in PTSD recovery.
"Genetti has written a triumph, chronicling her recovery from the days when she struggled to write a complete sentence while fiercely trying to hold on to her identity. Her autoethnographic study of Post Traumatic Growth after Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a remarkable treasure of transformation. Genetti’s singular will and determination have driven her healing and reset our equations for what is possible after neurological injury."
Robert Richard Sanders, MS CCC-SLP, MTS, Speech Language Pathology Advanced Clinical Specialist, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital