Personal and Social Meanings of Violent and Overwhelming Experiences
There are two main trends in psychological approaches to human suffering related to what we term trauma. Although they have their respective limitations both approaches may help us explore and alleviate human suffering. One trend, primarily using concepts like traumatic events and traumatisation is quantitative and diagnostically based. Events and reactions are categorised as well as abstractly generalised thus reducing and de-situating the complexities of personal suffering . The other and less frequently used approach is qualitative and subject-oriented. It explores the complexities of personal and situated meanings and practices related to suffering and resilience connected to ‘traumatic’ events. This presentation is based on a large qualitative research project. Inspired by this study it will explore the possibilities of developing the theoretical understanding of personal meanings of violent and/or overwhelming events. It will propose that personal meanings can be connected to the conduct of everyday life. Events and re-actions may thus be understood as violent and/or overwhelming events and experiences that require a re-evaluation and re-organisation of intersecting conditions in the conduct of life.
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12th european conference on traumatic stress : Human Rights & Psychotraumatology, 2011