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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00687

Coexistence of Post-Traumatic Growth and Post-Traumatic Depreciation in the Aftermath of Trauma: Qualitative and Quantitative Narrative Analysis

 Mariusz Zięba1*, Katarzyna Wiecheć2,  Joanna M. Biegańska-Banaś1, 3 and Wiktoria Mieleszczenko-Kowszewicz1, 3
  • 1Faculty of Psychology, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland
  • 2Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland
  • 3Faculty of Psychology, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland

Objectives: Post-traumatic growth (PTG) and post-traumatic depreciation (PTD) can be defined respectively as positive and negative changes in the aftermath of trauma. These changes can be assigned to the following domains: personal strength, relating to others, new possibilities, appreciation of life, spiritual and existential change. The aim of this study was to explore the possibility that positive and negative effects of trauma can coexist and explore the categories of effect.
Methods: 72 participants were asked to recount their experience of trauma and answer questions about how it had affected their thinking about themselves and the world. Participants’ narratives were analyzed by competent judges and using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count.
Results: The domains in which positive changes were most frequently observed were Personal Strength (26.09%), Relating to Others (24.22%), and Appreciation of Life (21.12%). Negative changes mainly affected Relating to Others (33.33%) and Personal Strength (23.33%). The results were confirmed by quantitative analysis of narratives: participants’ narratives of trauma and its consequences contained more words which expressing positive emotions (1.67%) than negative emotions (.90%), paired-sample t(60) = 9.70, p < .001. There were correlations between the frequency of words referring to positive emotions and PTG, r(62)=0.39, p<.01, and between the frequency of words referring to negative emotions and PTG, r(62)=0.23, p<.05.
Conclusions: PTG and PTD can coexist and they can be regarded as outcomes of two separate processes. The study results also suggest that although PTG and PTD can coexist they may be considered different domains of psychological functioning.

Keywords: Post-traumatic growth (PTG), post-traumatic depreciation (PTD), Fundamental assumptions, Narrative analysis, LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count) features

Received: 20 Sep 2018; Accepted: 12 Mar 2019.

Edited by:

Gianluca Castelnuovo, University Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy

Reviewed by:

Saori Nishikawa, Kumamoto University, Japan
Sarah Velissaris, Calvary Health Care Bethlehem, Australia  

Copyright: © 2019 Zięba, Wiecheć, Biegańska-Banaś and Mieleszczenko-Kowszewicz. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Mariusz Zięba, Faculty of Psychology, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland,