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Friedrich Nietzsche famously said: “What does not kill us, makes us stronger.” It’s great catch phrase used in songs and movies, but can surviving traumatic events actually lead to a positive outcome?
That’s a question people have been asking themselves throughout history. For thousands of years, humans have been telling stories about an ordinary hero going on an adventure, who overcomes challenges agains all odds and then comes home transformed.
When you’re in the middle of a war zone, lying in a hospital bed or grieving a loved one, it’s hard to see how anything good could ever come from that. But science shows that traumatic events not only cause immense distress, but can also provide an opportunity for personal change, namely post-traumatic growth.