Journal of Psychology in Africa

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Trauma, resilience and vulnerability to PTSD: A review and clinical case analysis

David Edwards, Pumza Sakasa, Gerrit van Wyk


This article begins with two case examples of a girl and an adolescent who were raped and developed chronic PTSD. These are used as a basis for understanding the role of a range of factors that are associated with resilience and vulnerability in the face of traumatic events. A literature review examines the proportion of individuals who develop PTSD following trauma and the factors associated with vulnerability and resilience. These include gender, developmental factors, social support and personality factors. Psychological factors associated with maintenance of chronic PTSD are also briefly reviewed. This material is used as a basis for reconsidering the case examples. Each case is formulated within a framework based on sources of vulnerability and qualities of resilience. Approaches to intervention are suggested that could address the range of factors making the individuals vulnerable to chronic psychological problems and support resiliency and recovery.

Keywords: post-traumatic stress disorder, resilience, social support, trauma, vulnerability

Journal of Psychology in Africa 2005, 15(2): 143–153
AJOL African Journals Online