Homeostasis Versus Growth: A View of Their Roles in Adaptation to Adversity, Trauma, Chronic Illness, and Physical Disability. Part I: History, Structure, and Processes

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Psychological Trauma-Theory Research Practice and Policy

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The goal of this two-part paper is to familiarize readers with a conceptual contrast, or inconsistency, inherent in the process of adaptation to adversity, trauma, and disability onset. The contrasting viewpoints include, first, the belief that the adaptation process is best understood through adherence to homeostatic principles that underlie human behavior. The opposing view promotes the belief that this process typically follows a trajectory of either disintegration or, more likely, growth, transformation and transcendence into higher functioning levels. In this first paper, the authors attempt to elucidate and reconcile, when possible, this conceptual lacuna. In part I of the first paper, the following steps were applied. First, the concept of homeostasis is reviewed as it is traditionally conceived in both the context of physics and biology, as well as in psychology and human behavior. The review includes historical and modern perspectives on the nature and dynamics of homeostasis. Second, an overview of growth and transcendence models, in the fields of psychology and human behavior, is provided. Discussed are both early and modern contributions to these fields. In the second, separate, paper, applications of growth and transcendence models to coping with adversity, trauma and onset of disabling conditions are discussed. Next, a preliminary conceptual model of adaptation, and its underlying postulates, seeking to integrate the homeostatic and growth models into a dynamically unified concentric model, while preserving each of the models’ main structural components, is offered. The second paper concludes with relevant research directions necessary to validate the model’s preliminary structure. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)


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