Original Research - Special Collection: Humanity

Re-authoring life narratives of trauma survivors: Spiritual perspective

Charles Manda
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 2 | a2621 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i2.2621 | © 2015 Charles Manda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 January 2014 | Published: 05 May 2015


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Abstract

Traditionally, the exploration of the impact of trauma on trauma survivors in South Africa has been focused mainly on the bio-psychosocial aspects. The bio-psychosocial approach recognises that trauma affects people biologically, socially and psychologically. In this article, the author explores a holistic understanding of the effects of trauma on people from communities historically affected by political violence in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Using a participatory action research design (PAR) as a way of working through trauma, a longitudinal study was conducted in Pietermaritzburg from 2009–2013. At the end of the study, life narratives were documented and published. The textual analysis of these life narratives reveals that, besides the bio-psychosocial effects that research participants experienced during and after the trauma, they also sustained moral and spiritual injuries. Trauma took its toll in their lives emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, morally and in their relationships with themselves, others and God. From these findings, the author argues that the bio-psychosocial approach is incomplete for understanding the holistic effects of trauma on the whole person. Therefore, he recommends the integration of the moral and spiritual aspects of trauma to come up with a holistic model of understanding the effects of trauma on traumatised individuals. The holistic model will enhance the treatment, healing and recovery of trauma survivors. This, in turn, will alleviate the severe disruption of many aspects of psychological functioning and well-being of trauma survivors caused by the effects of trauma.

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