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The meaning of intrusions in trauma recovery White, Valerie Marie

Abstract

This narrative multiple-case study explored and described the meaning of intrusions to five individuals who had experienced trauma and the meaning of intrusions in their experience of trauma recovery. The participants included two men and three women, ranging in age from 26 to 71 years old. This was a cross-trauma investigation as the participants had experienced different traumatic stressors and the time elapsed posttrauma ranged from 2 1/2 to 25 years. Three had experienced chronic or prolonged traumatic exposure for an average of twenty years. Two had experienced sudden and unexpected events in which they were seriously injured and their lives were in danger. The chronic traumatic experiences included; childhood exposure to violence in the family home and foster care, childhood sexual abuse by a volunteer mentor and degenerative illness from beast implant silicone toxicity. The acute traumatic experiences included a serious motor vehicle accident and a direct lightning strike to a participant's body. Three types of intrusions were identified in the study; re-living phenomena, intrusions related to the practical issues and implications of the trauma and those involved in an existential search for meaning. The findings also showed that intrusions are related to unresolved issues of the person and that intrusions evolved. Specific intrusions ended when the issue that the intrusion illumined was resolved. The study illustrated the processes of meaning making that the participants engaged in. The involvement of intrusions in reschematization or the development of posttrauma assumptions has been proposed. Finally, the results of this study illustrated that intrusions have not been accurately defined and are more than re-experiencing phenomena. The identification of three types of intrusions challenges the validity of current assessment instruments and has implications for the practice of trauma therapy.

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