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The good enough survivor: strategies for preparing organisations and employees for collective trauma

Fealy, Mandy M (2020) The good enough survivor: strategies for preparing organisations and employees for collective trauma. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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A series of earthquakes in Christchurch between 2010 and 2012 caused 185 deaths, destroyed many parts of the city, and led to the largest insurance event in the history of New Zealand. The collective nature of such events affects the whole community in some way and can be such an overwhelming experience that it can impact the psyche of many survivors. This research has drawn upon the stories of 22 survivors of this collective trauma obtained using a free associative interview technique. Subsequently the data was analysed using both Thematic Analysis and Biographic-Narrative Interpretive Method. Interviewees were both male and female, employees or leaders from New Zealand organisations. Analysis of the research data suggests that a significant challenge to being prepared for a collective trauma arises when people are unaware of how wedded they are to their notion of normality. Conclusions drawn from the analyses refer where applicable to Jungian principles, in particular to the unconscious, to form the basis on which psychological preparation can be developed. Overcoming a reluctance to prepare requires individuals and organisations to accept that the unimaginable can happen and that known normality can change. With this insight, individuals and their organisations can recognise that they will be psychologically impacted by the complexity of and conflicting pressures from changes to their known world and that they will need to grieve the loss of their known normality while focusing energy on adapting to their evolving new normality. Those who remain wedded to their past normality can become exhausted by seeking to return to a world that no longer exists. This psychosocial, qualitative,and inductive research into the personal stories of survivors has drawn conclusions about how organisations and their employees can psychologically prepare for collective trauma. This proactive approach to psychological preparation for collective trauma demonstrates that it is not only possible but advantageous, enabling individuals and their organisations to become what is termed here as good enough survivors.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Mandy Fealy
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2020 13:55
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2020 13:55

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