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Title: Adversity and Identity: Self-Defining Stories about Trauma and Recovery
Contributor(s): Ditton, Mary  (author)
Publication Date: 2014
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Abstract: How adversity impacts on identity is important for understanding mental health and designing interventions. This research aims to record the narratives of people who have experienced adversity, to describe factors that are important to the individual dealing with adversity and to analyse the influence of adversity on identity through self-narratives. Using McAdam's (2006) self-defining stories as a methodology this research asked participants who had experienced adversity with ill-health, work, relationships and migration to talk about how the experience affected their sense of themselves. Analysis of the stories revealed that the participants engaged with the problems that were presented with the adversity using their imagination in a process called 'dark creativity', changed their actions and behaviours and negotiated varied relationships at many levels. In this process they evolved a new identity better suited to future challenges. According to their self-assessment these participants successfully survived adversity. Revenge and anger did not appear significantly in these self-defining stories. The participants used their inner personal resources to move their lives forward constructively. From a theoretical point of view this research builds on resilience, life events, and post-traumatic stress/growth literature in three ways, self-defining stories expand the contextual environment for life conducting research years after adversity allows the long term impact to be demonstrated. This research assists the mental health practitioner to recognise how self-healing occurs. The self defining stories indicate the usefulness of tackling problems, changing behaviour and gaining from worthwhile relationships. Withdrawing from destructive relationships conserves energy that is wasted on revenge and anger.
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Details: 15th International Mental Health Conference - Mental Health: Innovation, Integration, Early Intervention, Gold Coast, Australia, 25th - 27th August, 2014
Source of Publication: 15th International Mental Health Conference Book of Abstracts, p. 66-67
Publisher: Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association
Place of Publication: online
Field of Research (FoR) 2008: 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
Field of Research (FoR) 2020: 520302 Clinical psychology
520303 Counselling psychology
520304 Health psychology
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 920410 Mental Health
HERDC Category Description: E3 Extract of Scholarly Conference Publication
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