That which does not kill us makes us stronger. (Nietzsche)
The phenomenon of positive personal change following devastating events has been recognized since ancient times, but given little attention by contemporary psychologists and psychiatrists, who have tended to focus on the negative consequences of stress.
In recent years, evidence from diverse fields has converged to suggest the reality and pervasive importance of the processes the editors sum up as posttraumatic growth. This volume offers the first comprehensive overview of these processes. The authors address a variety of traumas--among them bereavement, physical disability, terminal illness, combat, rape, and natural disasters--following which experiences of growth have been reported.
How can sufferers from posttraumatic stress disorder best be helped? What does "resilience" in the face of high risk mean? Which personality characteristics facilitate growth? To what extent is personality change possible in adulthood? How can concepts like happiness and self-actualization be operationalized? What role do changing belief systems, schemas, or "assumptive worlds" play in positive adaptation? Is "stress innoculation" possible? How do spiritual beliefs become central for many people struck by trauma, and how are posttraumatic growth and recovery from substance abuse or the crises of serious physical illnesses linked?
Such questions have concerned not only the recently defined and expanding group of "traumatologists," but also therapists of all sorts, personality and social psychologists, developmental and cognitive researchers, specialists in health psychology and behavioral medicine, and those who study religion and mental health. Overcoming the challenges of life's worst experiences can catalyze new opportunities for individual and social development. Learning about persons who discover or create the perception of positive change in their lives may shed light on the problems of those who continue to suffer.
Posttraumatic Growth will stimulate dialogue among personality and social psychologists and clinicians, and influence the theoretical foundations and clinical agendas of investigators and practitioners alike.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface. R.G. Tedeschi, C.L. Park, L.G. Calhoun, Posttraumatic Growth: Conceptual Issues. L.H. Cohen, T.R. Hettler, N. Pane, Assessment of Posttraumatic Growth. C.M. Aldwin, K.J. Sutton, A Developmental Perspective on Posttraumatic Growth. H. Tennen, G. Affleck, Personality and Transformation in the Face of Adversity. J.A. Schaefer, R.H. Moos, The Context for Posttraumatic Growth: Life Crises, Individual and Social Resources, and Coping. V.E. O'Leary, C.S. Alday, J.R. Ickovics, Models of Life Change and Posttraumatic Growth. C.L. Park, Implications of Posttraumatic Growth for Individuals. S.L. Bloom, By the Crowd They Have Been Broken, By the Crowd They Shall Be Healed: The Social Transformation of Trauma. L.G. Calhoun, R.G. Tedeschi, Posttraumatic Growth: Future Directions.
"The overview of research strategies, developmental issues, personality variables, characteristics of traumatic events, theoretical approaches, individual and group affects, and comprehensive models is well presented."
—READINGS: A Journal of Reviews and Commentary in Mental Health
"One comes away from this text with a sense of inspiration about directions for possible research. This book can be read and appreciated on many levels--as clinician, potential researcher and as plain human--touched as we all are by trauma at some point in our lifetime. I look forward with anticipation to the next volume which promises to signpost ways in which clinicians can encourage post traumatic growth."
—British Journal of Medical Psychology
"In this ground-breaking book, Tedeschi, Park, and Calhoun have consolidated the previously scattered social science literature on the growth-enhancing consequences of transcending trauma and, in so doing, have laid the foundation for a more balanced and hopeful traumatology. In place of one-sided depictions of the traumatized individual, family, or community as disordered, dysfunctional, or disorganized by the experience, the contributors to this volume thoughtfully review the solid empirical work documenting the cognitive, emotional, and social resiliency that permits people to not only survive, but indeed thrive, in the wake of desolation. The result is a book that offers encouragement to other investigators, guidance to counselors, and inspiration to all persons whose lives have been touched by severe loss."
—Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D.
University of Memphis; Editor, Death Studies; Past President, Association for De
"Lay persons and professionals alike have shown a keen interest in the impact of trauma on individual functioning. However, the focus has usually been on its negative effects. Here, at last, is a comprehensive, readable, and well-researched volume that focuses on the positive aspects of negative life events and trauma. It suggests that feelings of growth, meaningfulness, and adaptation are not uncommon consequences. The work goes a long way toward helping us understand the circumstances, contexts, and personality correlates of such growth. This book will be an important addition to the library of anybody interested in the consequences of trauma and negative life events."
University of Georgia