Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Complexity of Unrecognized Trauma: Survivors' Narratives
by Henshaw, Lisa A., Ph.D., Adelphi University, 2019, 237; 13885970
Abstract (Summary)

This phenomenological, qualitative study, grounded in standpoint theory, explored the lived experience of trauma survivors whose reactions to trauma were not professionally recognized when they sought help. Nine women participated in three semi-structured interviews to share their narratives. Findings revealed that (1) respondents survived cumulative, early childhood trauma leading to (2) complex reactions. Respondents’ (3) manifested reactions to trauma were not recognized by the professionals they met with and they experienced retraumatization in the context of helping relationships, as well as incorrect diagnoses. Findings suggest that (4) survivors of complex and unrecognized trauma are vulnerable to experience repetitive trauma in adulthood. In addition, they are challenged to integrate unnamed, repetitive trauma into their developing self, encompassing profound and ambiguous loss, as well as growth in their search to find meaning and identity. Implications are presented for practice, theory, policy, pedagogy and future research, highlighting the importance of recognizing survivors’ reactions to the complexity of trauma with formal policy that offers a diagnostic home.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Quiros, Laura
Commitee: Collins, Kathryn S., Joyce, Patricia, Varghese, Rani
School: Adelphi University
Department: Social Work
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 80/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Mental health, Social work
Keywords: Adult survivors, Complex trauma, Incorrect diagnosis, Phenomenology, Standpoint theory, Unrecognized trauma
Publication Number: 13885970
ISBN: 978-1-392-23354-2
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