Hope and health in the face of adversity

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This dissertation focuses on hope as a general concept, and more specifically on the relationship between hope and health in adversity (the impact of man-made earthquakes in Groningen). The first two chapters show 1) the impact hope and health have on each other over time, especially among people who experience adversity, and 2) that maintaining general hope even when losing hope specific to adversity is beneficial to health. So, especially for those dealing with adversity, maintaining feelings of hope is beneficial to health. However, hope can also be a sign that a person’s situation is hopeless — Nietzsche suggested: “Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man” (1878). We examined this paradox in a study about how people speak about hope in long-term adversity. The findings often align with the positive outcomes we would expect based on our previous findings and the literature on hope. But we also see that hope can be used to discuss dark and desperate thoughts and intentions. Hope is therefore not always a positive signal, as the presence of hope indicates that the person may find themselves in a hopeless and powerless situation. It may indicate that a person is using psychological means to avoid falling into despair. At the same time, the experience of hope in itself is not problematic: it is important to maintain hope in order to minimize negative health outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Postmes, Tom, Supervisor
  • Stroebe, Katherine, Supervisor
Award date2-Jun-2022
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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