Journal of Traumatic Stress Disorders & Treatment ISSN: 2324-8947

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Identity and Trauma

Identity and Trauma

The relationship of trauma to identity is a complicated one that requires greater study. This paper cites research which suggests that not only can traumatic exposure be disruptive to identity development, but in the reverse, identity can shape the manner in which trauma is perceived and understood. It is further noted that identity can both exacerbate posttraumatic stress disorder symptom severity, and/or promote positive posttraumatic growth. Trauma can also be incorporated into one’s identity, serving not only as a turning point or reference point, but also defining one’s life and purpose. Clearly more research is needed to better understand the many linkages between traumatic exposure and identity. Greater research on the relationship between trauma and identity has the potential to positively inform prevention and intervention efforts aimed at reducing the negative effects of traumatic exposure and increasing the positive growth effects that can also come from such experiences.

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