Posttraumatic growth (PTG), or the phenomenon that occurs when people experience positive life changes after a traumatic event, is a topic of research in the field of positive psychology.
After a traumatic event such as a cancer diagnosis, auto accident, or dog attack, some people are able to search within and find a greater purpose in life, change their worldview, adjust their priorities, and find renewed internal strength. This positive response is referred to as PTG and by other names.
Understanding the common factors related to and predictive of PTG can help victims foster a happier, more adjusted, purposeful life. It may give them a greater chance of being able to transform the trauma into a positive outcome.
Characteristics of Victims who Develop PTG
Researchers at the University of Calgary explain in a Support Care Cancer report, citing several other studies in its introduction, that there are several variables present in people who develop PTG after a traumatic experience. Some of these indicators are below.
- Strong social support system
- Youth (the younger the victim, the more likely they were to develop PTG)
- Greater perceived threat (the more traumatic the victims perceive the threat, the more likely they were to develop PTG)
- Low socioeconomic status
- Ethnic minority (non-Caucasian)
These are results from several different studies the authors in the Support Care Cancer report cited.
Dealing with the Aftermath of a Traumatic Event
Between 30 and 70 percent of trauma victims experience some sort of positive change after a traumatic event, reports Dr. Stephen Joseph, PhD for Psychology Today. However, this doesn’t mean that the trauma isn’t painful or harmful, or that it won’t leave lasting repercussions. Going through an accident, natural disaster, or dog attack is still destructive and distressing. Victims should ensure they get the mental health care they need to deal with the event.
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