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Benefit Finding

Suzanne C. Lechner

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


Benefit finding refers to an individual's perception that major positive changes have occurred as a result of challenging life events such as major illness or trauma. After a trauma, illness or other negative experience, some individuals report a new appreciation of their own strength and resilience. Other people may feel that their relationships are stronger and that they feel emotionally closer to others, especially family and friends. Yet others report that they have become more compassionate or altruistic. Life philosophies may also change. Some people cite an enhanced appreciation of “the little things in life” and redirected priorities. Finally, some individuals note a new openness to spiritual experience or religious activities. Succinctly, benefit finding is akin to the adage “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Interest in the ways in which individuals may grow or change following stressful life experiences paralleled the formation of the positive psychology movement. By focusing on well-being instead of pathology, the study of benefit finding and growth has articulated people's positive adaptation to stressful, traumatic, and negative life events. Until recently, studies of stressful, challenging and traumatic life events (such as cancer, rape, traumatic accidents or HIV) focused primarily on the negative aspects of the trauma/illness, while paying little attention ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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