Psychological growth following adversity: the role of social support

Durkin, John (2010) Psychological growth following adversity: the role of social support. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The thesis begins with a review of the trauma literature as it relates to fire and rescue work and the attention given to the negative psychological consequences of involvement in such work. Clinical authorities warn of the psychological harm caused by exposure to traumatic incidents despite the recognition that psychological growth often follows adversity. To address this, firefighters were used in a series of studies to investigate the role of social support in facilitating growth. A philosophical overview of current understandings of trauma and growth was made along with the methodology chosen to pursue this investigation.

The first empirical chapter is a test of the relation of growth to two different philosophical types of well-being. It found growth to be related to eudaimonic change, rather than hedonic change. A comprehensive review of the literature on social support and growth then found mixed findings for the association of social support and growth but no strong evidence of a causal relation. Four empirical chapters follow that examine the relations between different types of social support and growth in firefighters. The final empirical chapter is a longitudinal study of social support and growth in firefighters based on the findings of earlier cross-sectional studies.

Overall, findings were mixed and the role that social support plays in the facilitation of growth remains unclear. A critical realist perspective was taken at the end of the thesis that raises philosophical concerns about clinical understandings of trauma, its treatment and reliance upon a medical framework for explaining psychological change. The findings offer directions in which future research may progress to establish the role of social support in the facilitation of growth following adversity.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Joseph, S.
Middleton, H.C.
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC 321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Item ID: 13099
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2013 14:41
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2016 07:36

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