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Facing mortality: Exploring the mechanisms of positive growth and the process of recalibration

Inman, C and Ogden, J (2011) Facing mortality: Exploring the mechanisms of positive growth and the process of recalibration Psychology, Health and Medicine, 16 (3). 366 - 374. ISSN 1354-8506

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Abstract

Interviews with 11 participants who had suffered a range of traumas five or more years ago were analysed using thematic analysis to explore the impact of a negative event and the mechanisms involved in subsequent changes and adjustment. Participants described a sense of mortality reflected in a feeling that life was fragile as though the intellectual knowledge of their future death had been turned into an emotional reality, which had offered them opportunity to make changes across a number of life domains. For some, however, these changes were hindered through ongoing issues such as physical and psychological symptoms and legal action. The final theme reflected a process of recalibration and many described achieving a state of relative contentment. Transcending these themes were a series of mechanisms facilitating change including downward comparisons to friends and abstract others, active remembering involving forced reflection, self-talk and reading diaries, shifting priorities and a focus on the positives and lowered expectations. Overall, it is suggested that growth following trauma is achieved through a shift in the object of comparison whether it be others or themselves as either in an alternative life trajectory or even death. This may result in a greater appreciation of life, but rather than being achieved through growth in one's sense of self per se it reflects a generalised lowering of expectations and growth in comparison to a new lowered set of points of comparison.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an article published in Psychology, Health and Medicine, 16 (3), 366-374, April 2011. Psychology, Health and Medicine is available online at: www.tandfonline.com with the open URL of http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13548506.2011.554565.
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Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2011 13:54
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2013 18:54
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/27628

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