Making Meaning in the Wake of Trauma: Resilience and Redemption

Dan P McAdams, Brady K. Jones

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


The chapter introduces some of the central themes in the empirical and clinical literature on reconstructing meaning after trauma. A certain number of especially resilient people may adjust almost seamlessly to extremely negative events in their lives, whereas many others find that the presuppositions about self and world that sustained them in the past have now been undermined. Their efforts to make new meanings in the wake of trauma involve a wide range of interpretive and strategic operations, from trying to explain how and why the trauma occurred (sense making) to construing personal benefits from adversity. In the most successful outcomes, posttraumatic growth entails constructing a redemptive story around personal trauma and integrating that story within a broader, self-defining life narrative. Making meaning out of trauma through life narration is as much a social phenomenon as a personal one, and it is decisively shaped by culture.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReconstructing Meaning After Trauma
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Research, and Practice
EditorsElizabeth M Altmaier
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-0-12-803015-8
StatePublished - 2017


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