Is it always best to try to avoid pain and trauma, or can the experience of suffering be of lasting value? Philosophers, sociologists, soldiers, holocaust victims, and ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances have debated this question. Two trains of thought exist: extreme suffering wounds the mind and soul beyond the possibility of real recovery; or pain and trauma, accepted and worked through, can provide wisdom, hardiness, a sense of purpose, and empathy for our fellow man. This question on the value of suffering directly affects the treatment approaches to PTS – is it a mental disorder to be managed, or an appropriate moral response to horrific experiences from which people can grow and heal? Peter and Jenny believe that suffering can lead to growth in character and resilience and share their convictions from experience. Questions & Answers: 1) Some believe it’s too much to ask, and an insult to others who have suffered, to say that post-traumatic growth is possible. Is this “misguided compassion”?, 2) If so, what would real compassion for sufferers of pain and hardship look like?, and 3) Is rejecting the possibility of growth after pain a type of personal “collapse”? In what way would this be a loss and a handicap?
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