Trauma can Produce Psychological Benefits: Study

Wednesday, 13 Nov 2013 03:27 PM

By Nick Tate

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Can traumatic events have a silver lining? Researchers at Tel Aviv University are reporting the answer may in fact be "yes," based on new research that suggests trauma — however terrible — may have distinct psychological benefits.

The study, published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, is based on an analysis of the children of Holocaust survivors and their ability to undergo post-traumatic "growth" more readily than others whose parents did not suffer through the experience of the Nazi concentration camps.

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The results — reported by Sharon Dekel, M.D., and Zahava Solomon — showed individuals with Holocaust-survivor parents were less likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of their own traumas, a phenomenon they described as trauma's silver lining.

"Post-traumatic growth can be defined as a workable coping mechanism, a way of making and finding meaning involved in the building of a more positive self-image and the perception of personal strength," said Dekel.

"We were interested in studying the effect of the Holocaust on the second generation's propensity for this kind of growth. If we can identify verifiably positive implications of trauma, we will be able to incorporate them into treatment and teach people how to grow after terrible experiences."
 
Researchers have traditionally focused on the negative implications of trauma. But a growing body of evidence suggests trauma can have positive outcomes as well, leading some to set new priorities, build closer relationships, have an increased appreciation of life, a greater sense of personal strength, and heightened spirituality.

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