Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Vicarious Traumatization

  • Lori B. Wagner-NaughtonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_769

Defined as the indirect transmission of distressing symptoms following exposure to an individual who has directly experienced a traumatic event. After empathic and spiritual engagement with a traumatized individual, the listener may experience symptoms consistent with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These responses can include distressing imagery or reexperiencing of the event; persistent avoidance and numbing of stimuli, thoughts, or feelings reminiscent of the trauma; increased physiological arousal; somatic ailments; and significant impairment (DSM-IV-TR). In essence, the listener functions as the “container” for the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that are elicited through exposure to another individual’s recollections of traumatic material. The listener may attempt to alleviate these distressing emotions through spirituality or religious affiliation. Shaw et al. (2005) describe how “religious beliefs may provide a framework to aid reappraisal of threatening situations...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Connecticut State UniversityDanburyUSA