"Who am i now?" Distress and growth after trauma

Rachel E. Wiley, Sharon Kurpius

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This study investigated relationships among the experience of trauma, identity development, distress, and positive change among 908 emerging adults with a mean age of 19.99 (SD = 1.97) years. Greater identity exploration was associated with more distress, whereas greater identity commitment was associated with positive change after the trauma. Participants with a PTSD diagnosis reported more distress and identity exploration as compared to participants without PTSD who reported more positive change and identity commitments. Regression analyses found the centrality of the trauma event to one's identity predicted identity distress above and beyond the experience of trauma. Identity distress and the centrality of the trauma together predicted identity exploration, while only identity distress predicted identity commitments. Identity development predicted positive change above and beyond identity distress, centrality of the trauma event, and the experience of trauma. Collectively, these results indicate that aspects of distress and growth occur after traumatic events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGender Identity: Disorders, Developmental Perspectives and Social Implications
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781633214897, 9781633214880
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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