Coping with Traumatic Life Events

The Role of Denial in Light of People’s Assumptive Worlds
  • Ronnie Janoff-Bulman
  • Christine Timko
Part of the The Plenum Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)


Through our work with a number of populations that have experienced traumatic negative events (e.g., rape victims, cancer patients, paralyzed accident victims) we have come to recognize the extent to which we ordinarily take for granted our very basic assumptions about ourselves and our world. These assumptions play a significant role in the emotional trauma and the coping process following severe negative events. In what follows we will consider the process of denial in light of the existence of people’s assumptive worlds, in hopes of providing a richer framework for considering the role of denial. We will argue that the often-maligned process of denial is natural and often necessary, and that it generally facilitates the process of adaptation to traumatic experiences. Unfortunately, denial has generally been evaluated solely with respect to some external reality and too infrequently in view of the victim’s internal reality. First, then, let us consider the nature of this internal world.


Traumatic Event Traumatic Experience Negative Life Event Conceptual System Psychosomatic Medicine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronnie Janoff-Bulman
    • 1
  • Christine Timko
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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