Meaning making in the context of disasters
OBJECTIVE: Understanding the factors underlying adaptive psychological responses and recovery after disasters has important implications for intervention and prevention efforts. To date, little attention has been paid to successful coping processes in recovering from natural and technological disasters. This article takes a meaning making perspective to explicate how survivors successfully adapt after disasters. METHOD: Relevant literature is reviewed to illustrate the process of adaptation and resilience after disasters. RESULTS: Studies to date suggest both survivors’ global meaning, particularly their religiousness and sense of meaning, and their appraisals and meaning making after the disaster are important influences on their postdisaster resilience. Meanings made in the form of changes in global beliefs and perceived growth have been reported and shown to have inconsistent relations with adjustment. CONCLUSIONS: Although much more research is needed, current literature suggests that meaning making processes are central to recovery and resilience after a range of disasters.
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