In his thesis, Re-authoring life narratives of trauma survivors in KwaZulu-Natal: Spiritual perspective, the researcher investigates a holistic understanding of the effects of trauma on surviving individuals and communities historically affected by political violence in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Traditionally, the exploration of the impact of trauma on survivors in South Africa has been focused mainly on the bio-psycho-social aspects. The Bio-psycho-social approach recognises that trauma affects people on several dimensions- biological, social and psychological. However, Nevid (et al 2006:19) and Kaminer (et al 2012) acknowledge that these bio-psychosocial factors are incomplete for us to understand the effects of trauma on the individual and call for consideration of all possible pathways and account for multiple factors, influences, and interactions.
Using qualitative and narrative approach, personal life narratives were listened to with the aim of looking in depth at the effects of traumatic experiences on the research participants, and specifically investigate whether, and how trauma affected their spirituality. The findings show that the research participants sustained psychological, moral and spiritual injuries during and after traumatic experiences. The results concur with Buckenham’s (1999:7-8) argument that trauma wreaks its toll in the life of a person emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, in our relationships with ourselves, others and with God. The study also established that regardless of religious affiliation, research participants turned to spiritual resources for answers, healing and recovery in traumatic situations.
Therefore, the study recommends the integration of the spiritual perspective to reach a holistic model of understanding and treating traumatized individuals and communities. Although the study is localised in the South African context, the results have a much wider relevance in understanding the role of ‘posttraumatic spirituality’ in the re-authoring of life narratives shattered by trauma.