What Doesn’t Kill Us

What Doesn't Kill Us

When adversity strikes, people often feel that at least some part of them – be it their views of the world, their sense of themselves, their relationships – has been smashed.  Those who try to put their lives back together exactly as they were remain fractured and vulnerable.  But those who accept the breakage and build themselves anew become more resilient and open to new ways of living…

There is no doubt that adversity can lead to great psychological suffering.  We know that extremely frightening events can lead to very high levels of distress, which, in turn, can persist for many months, even years.  Not everyone experiences full-blown posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but most people will develop some of the emotional turmoil of posttraumatic stress following adversity…

…trauma can have both negative and positive implication, and that the negative and the positive go hand in hand…posttraumatic stress is a natural and normal process of adaption to adversity that marks the beginning of a transformative journey.  Recovery from trauma consists of finding new meanings, creating new webs of understanding and finding reparative methods centered on the sharing of memories.  Viewed in this light, posttraumatic stress can be understood as a search for meaning in which the drive to revisit, remember and think about the trauma is a normal urge to make sense of a shocking experience, to grasp new realities and incorporate them into one’s own life story…

As human beings we are storytellers.  Trauma triggers within us the need to tell stories to make sense of what has happened. These stories may take the form of conversations with family, friends and colleagues.  And our conversations are influenced by what we read in newspapers and see on television, and by the books, songs and poetry that provide us with language that captures in words, music and images what we are experiencing.  Transformation arises through the stories we tell.

It is in the struggle to make sense of a traumatic event that growth can take hold.

What doesn't kill us - www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk



This is an extract from Prof Joseph’s new book What Doesn’t Kill Us – The new psychology of posttraumatic growth.


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