Thursday, April 19, 2012

Post-Traumatic Growth

In our modern world of war and other atrocities the term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has become so well known it goes by the acronym PTSD. It’s talked about on the news and whispered about in frightened groups of survivors. But what isn’t as well known or as talked about is Post-Traumatic Growth which is just as prevalent as PTSD, but because we live in a culture that enjoys perpetuating the negative and overlooking the positive it isn’t talked about. But it is real and more of us have experienced it than have experienced PTSD.

Instead of experiencing debilitating symptoms after a trauma many people discover that after the initial sorrow and sadness, they have actually grown in many positive ways. This is what is called Post-Traumatic Growth. Researchers have now shown that positive psychological growth such as increases in spirituality, compassion for others, feelings of confidence in one’s own abilities, appreciation for life, and even an increase in personal satisfaction with life have occurred after traumatic experiences.

The fact that the media and others talk mostly about PTSD is sad in that it gives the impression that PTSD is the only response for trauma. We need to talk more about Post-Traumatic Growth because the difference in the two is largely a difference in mind-set and so we help others now and in the future by helping them to see that there are other ways to experience trauma.

Each of us has power over our own mind-set and researchers have found that those who define themselves by the bad that happens to them will most likely experience PTSD, but those that have a mind-set that the trauma has something to teach them will experience Post-Traumatic Growth. The catch is that for best results we need to train ourselves to see life as a learning experience instead of a devastating experience before the trauma occurs.

So begin today by asking yourself what you are learning from the things that happen to you. Let's make PTG more well known!


Wendi said...

This is a really good post. I put your name on the prayer roll when I was at the temple this morning. I hope you will make a full recovery from your recent sickness. :)

Anonymous said...

I think that people who have 'tools' are more likely to have growth post trauma than stress syndrome post trauma. One of the most successful tools to have is that of faith. It is faith that Heavenly Father is in charge and does love us. It is also being able to feel like we can talk to others about our trauma, so that we do not feel isolated, alone or helpless in our trauma. I am sure that there are other necessary tools also. Most certainly we do not want to try to minimize someone else's trauma. In fact, we live in a culture that does avoid talking about the negative (not the news, of course), but about those events in our lives that we cannot fix or that we feel no control over. Someone talking about these traumas might be perceived as a whiner or bitter, etc...We need to be able to bear each other's burdens and connect with others. I believe that when someone can feel accepted even with their pain, they are more likely to be able to move past the trauma and grow.