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.
By Olivia Efthimiou
In the context of a new science of heroism this article presents a brief history of the presence and study of heroism, and an outline of the key characteristics of the modern-day movement of heroism. The potentially wide-reaching impacts of the science of heroism are briefly discussed. The hypothesis of human beings as “hero organisms” is presented, before embarking on a discussion on what it means for each of us to be on our own hero’s journey.
By Elaine L. Kinsella, Timothy D. Ritchie & Eric R. Igou
Heroes are frequently described as both brave and courageous. Each adjective is often used interchangeably in public and academic discourse, despite historical and philosophical differences in their meaning. While research about heroes and heroism is burgeoning, little work has yet to provide a detailed analysis of specific hero features; indeed, there is a need for greater precision in our terminology and conceptual analyses of heroism. In the present article, we focus on two features of heroism, bravery, and courage, and critically parse these terms and the pervasive gender stereotypes that are associated with each. We aim to spark critical discussions about the personal features, motivations, and behaviors associated with heroes and heroism, as well as to outline some directions for future heroism research. We extend our previous work on the central and peripheral features of heroism, and provide directions for considering the role of gender and gender stereotypes in developing future theory and research on heroism.
By Nadav Goldschmied, Jessica Ruiz & Sydney Olagaray
Heroes who win are adulated. Underdogs are a special class of heroes who are facing especially daunting odds. Why do people extend support to underdog entities in light of their bleak odds for triumph? The current study explored the idea that the underdog narrative is one of ultimate success and that this schema is strong enough to elicit false memories. We surveyed participants’ recollections of two boxing movies. As predicted, participants accurately remembered James Braddock beating the world champion in the end of Cinderella Man (underdog consistent plot) but failed to recall Apollo Creed beating Rocky Balboa in Rocky I (underdog inconsistent plot). While ruling out alternative explanations of time and emotional attachment we propose that the underdog storyline is one of eventual triumph. This distortion in memory may, in turn, contribute to unfounded optimism about the yet-to-be-determined chances of contemporary underdogs and increase the likelihood of support extended to them. Limitations and future avenues of research are discussed in detail.
By Hannes Rusch
This mini-review identifies and briefly describes a total of 12 published studies investigating aspects of war and civil heroism by analyzing larger data sets on documented historical cases of such behavior. Eleven of these studies focus on either Carnegie Medal or Medal of Honor recipients. These two most prominent data sources are briefly characterized and directions for future research are pointed out.