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Prescribing Posttraumatic Growth

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This article introduces questions in psychiatric ethics regarding the substantial field of qualitative and quantitative research into ‘posttraumatic growth’, which investigates how, after devastating experiences, individuals can come to feel that they have developed warmer relationships, increased spirituality, or a clearer vision of their priorities. In one area of this research, researchers of posttraumatic growth outline strategies for clinicians interested in assisting their patients in achieving such growth. In this article, I articulate two ethical concerns about this account of posttraumatic growth and the practice of growth‐oriented therapy. The first is a concern about the status and effects of the ideal of posttraumatic health implicit in their account, and the second a concern about the ethical implications of the clinical recommendations for the post‐trauma patient. I argue for the need for more attention to the hazardous implications of relating to patients as though they are on their way to, and themselves largely in control of, their own posttraumatic growth.
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Keywords: DSM; diagnostic categories; posttraumatic growth; psychiatric ethics; trauma

Document Type: Original Article

Publication date: November 1, 2015

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