Cognitive Dissonance in Trauma: The Conflict between Belief, Autobiographical Memory and Overt Behaviour

Engelbrecht, Gerhardina Cornelia (2015) Cognitive Dissonance in Trauma: The Conflict between Belief, Autobiographical Memory and Overt Behaviour. Masters thesis, University of South Africa.

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This research was aimed at giving a voice to three women, who are constructed as having had a traumatic event recalled from their autobiographical memory. To achieve this objective an epistemological framework of social constructionism was used to investigate autobiographical memory recall of trauma. Three in-depth interviews were conducted with participants who constructed themselves as having had a traumatic event. A case study approach was used to gain access to the information and to compare themes. The research explored the way in which dissociation, voluntary thought suppression, minimization and outright denial enabled the three participants to alter unbearable memories through the use of recurring themes. To interpret these stories the content of the themes was analysed using thematic content analysis. The participants represented different cultures, languages and religions. In sharing their symptoms this did not necessarily mean they attached the same meaning to a specific theme, as individual meaning-making corresponded to the individual‟s background and history and their perception of the trauma. The stories related by the three participants revealed a shattered worldview that brought them into opposition with community norms and standards, which the narrators experienced as silencing and judgemental. In this regard the researcher‟s aim was to generate information from the participants themselves. This inquiry into the personal trauma stories and meanings suited a qualitative research approach, a form of methodology that allowed personal insight into the meanings the three participants attributed to their trauma and the autobiographical recall of trauma. At the same time it allowed a co-constructed reality to take shape between the researcher‟s reality and the participant‟s reality, always acknowledging the importance of their being the expert of their own individual trauma memory. This is in contrast to a quantitative approach which focuses on numbers to quantify the results; a qualitative approach on the other hand is a personal, rich information-gathering tool that takes into account the emotions and meaning-making of each individual story without any intention to generalize the information gathered to a larger population It is hoped that through this research there is a realization that although trauma victims share symptoms, the meaning-making of the individual attached to this trauma is influenced by their society and history within their respective environments.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anger, autobiographical memory, behaviour, belief, belonging to a group or culture, cognition, constructivism, denial, destructiveness, dissonance, guilt, hopelessness, innateness of reaction to trauma, memory, powerlessness, self-blame, trauma, trust
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Divisions: Africana
Depositing User: Mr Jude Abhulimen
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2016 08:30
Last Modified: 22 May 2018 11:21

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