8-3 | Visiting the Muses


Visiting the Muses
Creativity, Coping, and PTSD in Talented Dancers and Athletes

Paula Thomson and S. Victoria Jaque


Although exposure to traumatic events runs high among Americans, only a few—about 8.7 percent—of those exposed to such events develop symptoms that warrant a diagnosis of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The authors investigate two groups—dancers and athletes, including some who suffered from PTSD and some who did not—and found a higher frequency of PTSD diagnoses than would be expected in the general population and more so among the dancers than the athletes. Both groups indicated that the creative process was a positive experience, but the PTSD group reported more anxiety and emotional-oriented coping while creating and during stressful situations. The authors conclude that, although engaging in adult forms of play may not eliminate PTSD, participating in preferred physical activities may enhance the self-efficacy and self-management of those who do suffer from it. Participation in these activities certainly offers them pleasure and meaning. Key words: coping strategies, creativity, emotion regulation, overexcitability, play, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)