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psychotherapie
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Existential
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An existential turning point: Prisoners, loss of meaning, and posttraumatic growth

ARTICLESiebrecht Vanhooren - 56–2 (2018)

SUMMARY

Generally, prisoners are often reduced to their crimes by the out­ side world. However, committing a crime and the experience of being imprisoned can lead to a deep reflection about one’s self and eventually lead to posttraumatic growth. In six studies we ex­plored how incarceration can lead to an existential turning point. The average prisoner experiences incarceration as an existential loss to some degree. Feeling heard by another person and feeling supported during a search for meaning are important experien­ces. Older prisoners and prisoners who have been victims of sexual abuse during their childhood have a harder time to experience posttraumatic growth. Psychotherapy can support posttraumatic growth if there is – next to an authentic therapeutic relationship – space for processing the loss of meaning, older traumatic expe­riences, and facing the existential challenges that come with crime and imprisonment.

KEYWORDS

prisoners, offenders, existential, posttraumatic growth