Thursday, May 9, 2013

Resilience and World Reconstruction after Trauma. The Vital Factors.

Resilience is a complex concept. Practically speaking, here are some of the major factors that are significant in a person's "natural" recovery from trauma. By “natural” I am trying to get at what facilitates the average expected person's average expected recovery. I believe it is useful to say that trauma disrupts, degrades, and/or distorts some set of significant "through-lines" in a person's life, in their "dramaturgical pattern".  I am suggesting that "through-lines" is a useful organizing concept when employing the concept of "the dramaturgical pattern".  This comes from Peter Ossorio’s conceptualization that a person is an individual whose history involves a pattern of deliberate actions in a dramaturgical fashion. (See, The Behavior of Persons, Peter Ossorio, 2006/2013, The Descriptive Psychology Press).

As a clinical observer I think the following biological and social factors are important in the natural recovery from trauma.

1. Sleep is almost universally recognized as important but often difficult to comfortably achieve after trauma. The manner of recovery is different when sleep is accompanied with or without nightmares.  It is harder when nightmares are present. Also important is whether the dreams involve successful story resolution. Successful resolution helps. The presence or absence of metaphor in the dream narrative is also predictive of whether the trauma becomes more tolerable and amenable to resolution. Metaphor is significant since it knits a variety of through-lines into a common image. I think that metaphor connects themes in the service of mastery. On the other hand, direct representation of the trauma negatively correlates with recovery and impedes toleration of the traumatic memory.

2. The significance and extent that vital through-lines have been disrupted, distorted, degraded or lost is central in assessing the damage to a person's self and world. These can be extracted as developmental lines, role patterns, linked and valued social practices, the usual "done thing" and so on.  Said another way, what is the significance and extent of the damage?

3. Parallel to #2 is the person’s remaining serviceable powers and dispositions available for effective engagement with the problematic circumstances.

4. Of further significance is the availability of communities to help the traumatized person reengage in valued social practices.

5. Engagement also involves the faith, hope and expectation that the communities "will meet the need and make the difference" and that the traumatized person believes they will recover with or without assistance.

I wrote about this in a somewhat different fashion in April's Resilience and World Reconstruction.  A beautiful exploration of world reconstruction, on living in a radically changed world, can be found in work by Anthony Putman: A Descriptive Psychologist Looks at the World of Persons and their Ways

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