Medical Illness and Positive Life Change: Can Crisis Lead to Personal Transformation?
The idea that people experience positive change through their struggles with adversity is very old. However, only recently has this idea generated widespread empirical research attention.
People often claim to experience improved relationships with family and friends, a clearer sense of their own strengths and resilience, changed priorities about what is important in life, and various other positive changes after struggling with stressful or traumatic events. What are we to make of these claims? Can we determine whether perceptions of change reflect real, verifiable change—that is, is it possible for someone to believe that he or she has grown while still exhibiting the same old self-defeating thoughts and behaviors? Or, is the perception of change itself an important meaning reconstruction process? What factors influence personal growth, and what effect does growth have on physical and mental health?
This book examines these issues in depth and draws out implications for research and clinical practice. Because medical illness has been one of the primary contexts in which researchers have studied the phenomenon of positive life change, this book focuses on how positive life change might be fostered in the context of medical illness.