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Trauma Recovery: A Heroic Journey

Heroism Science, Volume 2, 2017

By Brenda Keck, Lisa Compton, Corie Schoeneberg, Tucker Compton


Trauma survivors who choose to enter into trauma recovery may be viewed as individuals embarking on a hero’s journey. Historically, many of the coping strategies utilized by individuals who are experiencing post-traumatic stress have been viewed as inherently disordered and personally dysfunctional. An alternative perspective of these behaviors calls for an examination of strengths present within trauma survivors, suggesting a reframe of their symptomology as ingenuity in coping during adverse circumstances and an appreciation for the difficulty of living with traumatic memories. This article highlights the challenging process of trauma recovery as it parallels Campbell’s (1949) metaphor of the hero’s journey and its stages of departure, initiation, and return. The historical conceptual framework for understanding psychosocial and lingering impacts of trauma is reviewed, an alternative strengths-based perspective in the examination of trauma symptoms is proposed, and potential positive outcomes of post-traumatic growth are discussed. Finally, a trauma survivor’s personal story of her hero’s journey towards post-traumatic growth is presented.

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