Title: Beyond Resilience and PTSD: Predicting the Heterogeneity of Responses to Potential Trauma
Abstract: Potentially traumatic events (PTEs) are more common than is usually assumed. Until recently, responses to such events have been understood almost exclusively in terms of extreme reactions (e.g., PTSD) or in terms of measures of central tendency (e.g., average group differences). Although both approaches have been useful, neither captures the true heterogeneity of responses to PTEs and both underestimate the prevalence of human resilience. In this talk I describe studies from our research program that map individual trajectories of adjustment following such demanding life events as terrorist disaster, combat, traumatic injury, bereavement, bio-epidemic, and cancer surgery. I also examine the predictors of these trajectories, and emphasize the important role of emotional context sensitivity, flexibility in coping and emotion regulation, and positive emotional expression.