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April 1955

An Outline of the Process of Recovery from Severe Trauma

Author Affiliations

Chapel Hill, N. C.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1955;73(4):403-409. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1955.02330100035007

This discussion is an attempt to draw together into a single formulation many separate parts of an experience gleaned during two years of interviewing patients suffering from severe malignant illness of one sort or another.1 We were impressed at the time, and have continued with increasing interest to be impressed, with the manner in which, after the imposition of intolerable stresses, the resultant strains point up the basic similarity of human patterns in personality disintegration and in the restitution which follows. Further, we may by analogy make certain inferences about early personality development.

In the field of research into human developmental patterns the direct experimental imposition of stress of a degree sufficient to impose strain upon the resources of the individual is impossible: Either the stress is inadequate to present any major adaptive problem to the individual, or else the conditions of the experiment are apt to exceed the

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