Trauma is an event during which individuals are confronted with a threat to their own or to someone else’s integrity. If intense fear, horror and helplessness are experienced during the event there may be psychological traumatisation. However, individuals may experience physical trauma and require hospitalisation. The patients’ subjective experiences from the hospitalisations may precipitate further trauma. Although families of patients are not involved in the traumatic event, they may experience their own traumatisation. The individuals and their families experience the trauma on the biological, psychological and social levels. Medical literature is mostly positivistic and there is little qualitative research on the experience of hospitalisation, particularly of family experiences of the intensive care unit (ICU). There is also a paucity of research on psychological experiences in the medical world. The research that has been conducted in psychology is mostly with psychiatrists. The aim of this research is to explain the sense families make of physical trauma using narrative. Narrative is the sense individuals make of experiences across time through telling and re-telling stories. Qualitative research is most suited to explore these subjective experiences of individuals. Social constructionism is one form of qualitative research and a process exploring the world of individuals in the context of culture, history and social interaction. Individuals arrange these stories using myths, symbols and archetypes that will provide coherence to the lived experience. Languaging the experiences facilitates meaning attribution that informs behaviour. Data was collected through photographs taken by the participants and individual interviews were conducted. The co-construction of this text occurred in the context of the researcher as a counsellor, the researcher as a previous physical trauma patient and the family perspectives of the participants. The exploration of the photographs and their sequence are followed by a narrative analysis of the interview texts using storymaps. Narratives were co-created in this context. The participants selected the stories and created coherence by narrating and ordering the sequence of photographs. Since the family language this lived experience, the members explored various selves and their relationships with their worlds. The family was impacted biopsychosocially and is writing an alternate story in the discourse of the medical world that says further rehabilitation is difficult, if not impossible. They have made sense of the physical trauma by searching for unique outcomes and narrating on a temporal framework: stories of their self, relationships with others, their physical self and their physical environments. This will create space for their alternate story.
Dissertation (MA (Counselling Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2008.