A Growth Perspective on Post-Traumatic Stress
Since it was incorporated into the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), posttraumatic stress responses have been viewed in light of specific symptoms. In the fifth edition of that manual this approach continues, and these symptoms include mental intrusions, avoidance, negative thoughts and mood, and hyperarousal. The symptoms seen in PTSD can be considered to be expressions of a disruption of the system of core beliefs and concepts that are used by people to understand the world and their place in it. These understandings have been referred to as the assumptive world, working models, and theories of reality. This approach is essentially cognitive, and it is built on the assumption that personal constructs or schemas provide a guide to events in the environment and responses to these events. Trauma can be understood as a set of circumstances that not only produces immediate physiological challenges to the systems that help people avoid or deal with danger and survive, but also challenge or violate people’s views of the world and their place in it. Somewhat paradoxically, these challenges to the system of core beliefs can also provide an opportunity to reconsider those beliefs, and to fashion a new understanding of oneself, the world, and the future. In this reconsideration there may emerge a perspective that is more adaptive, and perhaps more profound, in the recognition of new possibilities for living. When these changes to core beliefs hold more value than the prior system, the result can be described as post-traumatic growth (PTG): positive changes that result from the struggle with highly stressful and demanding life events.
Read the Chapter “A growth perspective on post-traumatic stress” https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118468197.ch15
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