Signs of Psychological Trauma in Autobiographical Accounts



This study is dedicated to the investigation of the psychological characteristics of first-hand descriptions of traumatic events, based on a comparative analysis between a sample of 102 non-sighted subjects and a corresponding control group of sighted participants. During the preliminary stages of the analysis of autobiographical accounts of non-sighted subjects, certain content-analysis categories were determined which presumably identify the presence of psychological trauma. These relate to remembrances and descriptions of loss of sight, remembrances and descriptions of significant losses, remembrances and descriptions of stresses, and also remembrances of positive and negative developments in relationships with loved ones, positive and negative emotions, affiliations, frustrated affiliations, self-reassurance and absorptive states. All subjects also completed Cloninger’s TCI questionnaire (adapted to the Russian sampling). Within the course of the investigation, significant differences were observed on the basis of subject gender, both in the autobiographical descriptions and in the questionnaire. A very important variable, displayed in the verbalizations of traumatic situations between the two groups, was «self-acceptance». If for most men in this study, traumatic events signified sensitization, and did not carry much positive content, most women responded that experienced trauma was a stimulus for the manifestation of affiliations (the works of numerous authors on the Icarus and Demeter–Persephone complexes could provide the basis for further understanding of this gender difference). The results obtained in this study demonstrate that remembrances and descriptions of loss, trauma, negative developments with loved ones and self-reassurance could be seen as signs of psychological trauma, while remembrances and descriptions of stresses which lead to a satisfactory result do not represent such.

General Information

Keywords: content-analysis, Cloninger TCI, blind people, gender differences, Icarus complex, Demeter–Persephone complex

Journal rubric: Psycholinguistics

For citation: Almayev N.A., Dorodnev A.B., Malkova G.Y. Signs of Psychological Trauma in Autobiographical Accounts. Eksperimental'naâ psihologiâ = Experimental Psychology (Russia), 2009. Vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 104–115. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Nikolai A. Almayev, Doctor of Psychology, Senior Research Associate, Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

Anton B. Dorodnev, PhD Student, State University of Humanities

Galina Y. Malkova, PhD in Psychology, Associated Member of Laboratory of Psychology of Speech and Psycholinguistics, , Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IP RAS), Moscow, Russia



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