To understand positive psychology and trauma, one must first understand what each term means. First, positive psychology is the study and focus on the best in human behavior. It is a fairly new perspective being observed and used by psychologists from all over the world. The goal of positive psychology is to study and promote conditions that can help people to achieve happy, healthy, and productive lifestyles. It is derived from research and theories from many areas of psychology and tying them together while focusing on the positive aspects of human behavior. What does it mean to be positive? Being positive is displaying affirmation, acceptance, or certainty toward an object, idea, or person.
“Trauma is used when describing emotionally painful and distressing experiences or situations that can overwhelm a person’s ability to cope” (John A. Rich, Theodore Corbin, & Sandra Bloom, 2008). Trauma could include deaths, violence, verbal and nonverbal words and actions, discrimination, racism etc. Trauma could result in serious long-term effects on a person’s health, mental stability, and physical body. Judith Herman, from Trauma and Recovery, said “Traumatic events are extraordinary, not because they occur rarely, but rather because they overwhelm the ordinary human adaptations to life” (John A. Rich, Theodore Corbin, & Sandra Bloom, 2008). Trauma does not involve the same experiences for everyone; each individual is unique in that they, and only they, can decide what is traumatic for them.
Before discussing what positive things can come from suffering a traumatic experience, one must first understand that negative things can arise as well. Trauma “shatters people’s basic assumptions about themselves and the world they live in. Three basic assumptions are challenged by trauma: (1) the belief in personal invulnerability; (2) the perception of the world as meaningful and comprehensible; and (3) the view of ourselves in a positive light” (Baumgardner & Crothers, 2009, p. 67). Along with the idea of the world being shattered, one might also suffer from depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal thoughts or tendencies, and many other negative effects. One of the most common negative effects is PTSD, which is discussed below.
Frequently, after a trauma, most people suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome or PTSD. Post traumatic stress syndrome is “a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which physical harm occurred or was threatened” (Anxiety and Panic Disorders Health Center, 2005-2013). Normal feelings of shock, anger, fear, guilt, and nervousness are experienced more strongly and can overtake the life of someone with PTSD leaving them feeling unable to accomplish even the normal of tasks. Symptoms of PTSD are grouped into three main categories; reliving, avoiding, and increased arousal. PTSD has affected an average of 7.8 million Americans at least once in...