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Post-Traumatic Growth

Numerous studies have been conducted on the negative effects of trauma on human life. However, it is also known that trauma can lead to positive changes in individuals. In other words, traumatic stress is not the only result of trauma. Individuals who successfully cope with trauma experience a process of positive change and maturation after trauma (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996). It has been observed that people who experience post-traumatic growth are able to reconstruct their lives shaken by trauma on a more positive level. The way people make sense of the world is being reconstructed by changing their perspectives after experiencing trauma. The positive psychological changes that occur after challenging life experiences are called post-traumatic growth.


Post-traumatic growth can only occur after a very difficult and challenging period of struggle in a person's life (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996). The collapse of a person's fundamental beliefs after experiencing trauma leads to growth through the beliefs that the person reconstructs. People have basic beliefs that they are safe. A person who believes that they are safe can cope with the problems of daily life and daily life events do not shake the person's belief that they are safe. However, if a person experiences a major loss after trauma, their belief that they are safe is shattered and an opportunity arises for the person to mature and reconstruct this belief. Growth after trauma does not occur immediately. In order for post-traumatic growth to occur after trauma, the person must pass through the traumatic stages of grief and re-interpret their life. Only after experiencing great pain after trauma can a person move on to the traumatic growth stage (Bernsten & Rubin, 2007; Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004).


Post-traumatic growth is a state beyond the healing of the effects of trauma; the person undergoes a deep transformation that goes beyond their previous state (Arenliu et al., 2019; Janoff-Bulman, 2004). The person does not return to their previous state after trauma, but experiences significant changes in their life and goes beyond their previous state (Tedeschi and Calhoun, 2004). Post-traumatic stress is a rebuilding process that requires a lot of time and effort for the individual. In order for a person to grow, they must first experience pain.


Psychological growth caused by trauma appears in various areas of human life, such as self-perception, interpersonal relationships, and philosophy of life (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1995).


Self-Perception


Individuals who view themselves as survivors of the earthquake, rather than victims of the earthquake, experience a change in their beliefs about themselves and their self-confidence increases (Tedeschi et al., 1998). At the same time, their beliefs that "nothing will happen to me" change. They now realize that negative events can also happen to them and do not feel uncomfortable about this situation. The change in individuals' self-confidence and their perception that they cannot always be safe makes them more prone to receive social support.


Interpersonal Relationships


The change in a person's self-perception makes them more capable of giving and receiving love. People who experience post-traumatic growth are more open to giving and receiving support from others, and they develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with others.


Philosophy of Life

Changes within oneself and in relationships with others can lead a person to question the meaning of life and perceive their life as more valuable. Life begins to be experienced as more meaningful, understandable, and manageable.


The positive changes experienced by a person after a trauma are the result of the changes they make within themselves, with others, and their relationship with life.



Sources


Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (1996). The Posttraumatic Growth Inventory: Measuring the positive legacy of trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9(3), 455–472. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.2490090305


Berntsen, D., & Rubin, D. C. (2007). When a trauma becomes a key to identity: Enhanced integration of trauma memories predicts posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 21(4), 417–431. https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.1290


Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2004). Target Article: "Posttraumatic Growth: Conceptual Foundations and Empirical Evidence". Psychological Inquiry, 15(1), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327965pli1501_01


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Yopyk, D. J. (2004). Random Outcomes and Valued Commitments: Existential Dilemmas and the Paradox of Meaning. In J. Greenberg, S. L. Koole, & T. Pyszczynski (Eds.), Handbook of Experimental Existential Psychology (pp. 122–138). The Guilford Press.

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