Examining the Role of Ego Development, Individuation, and Resiliency on Symptomatology Following a Traumatic Event

Katelyn McGee, Pace University


Trauma focused research has recently flourished. It seems the world has become increasingly captivated by "trauma", its prevalence, correlates, and consequences. It is part of our DNA to maintain the genetic wiring that facilitates the flight or flight response, indicating that early on, humans were armed to contend with difficulties and disasters. Humans innately possess biological assets that allow us to escape and survive traumas. Contending with the aftermath, the psychological consequences that we face subsequent to the event is a mystery that continues to elude us. This study examined three specific variables: ego development, outcomes of separation-individuation, and resilience capacity that could potentially serve as psychological resources toward enhanced adaptation following trauma. In essence, this study sought to explore whether these three psychological assets could equip individuals to cope more adaptively after experiencing a trauma as measured by their degree of symptomatology. The sample consisted of 143 participants who sought psychological services at a university based community clinic in downtown Manhattan. Participants completed the Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale, Loevinger's Sentence Completion Test, the Profile of Adolescent Depression and Individuation, the Resilience Scale, and the Personality Assessment Inventory. It was hypothesized that individual's with higher levels of ego development, more adaptive outcomes of separation-individuation, and higher resilience capacity would endorse a lesser degree of symptomatology. Results varied, with some hypotheses being fulfilled and others nullified. Specifically, results revealed that level of ego development of an individual who experiences trauma did not influence their symptomatology. Outcomes of separation-individuation and resilience capacity, however, were related to symptomatology, indicating that positive outcomes of differentiation and higher levels of resilience often times resulted in decreased symptoms. Finally, results highlighted the relationship between resilience and differentiation outcomes, corroborating previously established research that positive outcomes of individuation are related to significant markers of psychological health and well-being including one's capacity for resilience. This study is demonstrative of the ongoing need for trauma-based research to delineate what psychological assets may serve as protective factors given the complexity and degree of suffering associated with having experienced trauma.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

McGee, Katelyn, "Examining the Role of Ego Development, Individuation, and Resiliency on Symptomatology Following a Traumatic Event" (2013). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3577321.



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