Research group studying 1966-67 events in Ohio Valley

Focusing on growth from trauma

Staff Report

OHIO VALLEY — What began as a visit to Point Pleasant a few years ago has now turned into a study regarding the effects of trauma conducted by Midwesterners who are searching for participants for their research.

A group called Phenomenology Research Partners (PRP) is conducting a study on the effects of the traumatic events that took place in the Ohio River Valley between November 1966 and December 1967. The intent of the study is to understand the dimensions of post-traumatic growth (PTG) that may have originated during this time and place and to communicate the results to the general public in an effort to facilitate healing in the greater Ohio River Valley.

The team consists of Bill Kousoulas, Jaci Kousoulas and Amanda Raber.

Information provided by the team regarding their backgrounds is as follows:

Kousoulas, who has a PhD, is an investigative researcher with degrees in Psychology and English. He states he’s especially passionate about learning how people and communities often thrive by overcoming trauma and adversity. His doctoral dissertation covers the topics of post-traumatic growth (PTG) and personal resilience from a qualitative perspective, utilizing conversational interviews and grounded theory analysis. Bill stated he first visited Point Pleasant in 2016 and has returned every year since due to his deep appreciation for the people, and their sense of community.

Jaci has worked as a United States Postmaster for over 23 years. Her professional expertise lies in data analytics, investigation, and research. Point Pleasant became a home away from home the very first time she and Bill visited there. The community and people of Point Pleasant remind her of her childhood, and what it was like to experience the unity of life in a small town.

Raber is a content developer with experience in instructional design and audio/video production. She is fascinated by Point Pleasant’s ability to recover from disasters and flourish, even during a global pandemic. She hopes that lessons learned from the residents can be applied more widely, as Point Pleasant is unique, but trauma is universal.

As for the traumatic events PRP is referencing in their study, they consist of the Silver Bridge collapse and the Mothman sightings but stress they realize these two events aren’t necessarily connected for people but occurred in the timeframe they are looking at more closely in regards to the trauma research. The team stated this is all voluntarily and it was up to the volunteers if they wished to speak about one event or a combination of the two.

Bill wrote regarding the research: “Experiencing cataclysmic disasters and paranormal phenomena can be extremely challenging, and elements of post-traumatic growth (PTG) frequently emerge from difficult life circumstances. This study will collect qualitative data from individuals who experienced one or more of these phenomena to examine the dimensions of PTG that they acquired through the process. Although many studies have been conducted about PTG and environmental disasters, and some scholarly literature has been written about the topic of paranormal phenomena, little has been written about the dimensions of PTG that can emerge from having experienced a combination of both factors.

“This project will address the following research questions: What are the dimensions of PTG experienced by community members who were impacted by the collapse of The Silver Bridge? What are the dimensions of PTG experienced by individuals who have encountered inexplicable phenomena associated with Mothman in 1966-1967? The design of the study is phenomenology, and it will utilize semi-structured interviews, journaling, and field notes.”

Bill further stated on the study’s goals “This information might prove to be useful to individuals who have been traumatized by similar phenomena. This topic is significant to the field of general psychology because it will investigate the qualitative experiences of participants who have self-identified as having transitioned through this crisis. By performing the analysis, key phenomena and elements can be identified that will aid in the overall understanding of the type of personal growth one might expect to experience by transitioning through similar circumstances.”

The team will be in Point Pleasant next week and has interviews regarding their study set up with some local officials and residents. For more information, or if you are interested in participating in this volunteer-based study, please contact PRP at [email protected], through their website, or by dialing 815-751-1524.

Focusing on growth from trauma

Staff Report