Tool Module: Resilience

It was long believed that any child who lived through terrible experiences would grow into a troubled adult. But now we know that this is not necessarily the case. Some children can even emerge stronger from such experiences. Such children are described as “resilient”.

The concept of resilience comes from physics, where it refers to a material’s ability to return to its original form after being subjected to a shock or to heavy pressure. Thus the hull of a submarine is considered resilient if it can withstand the considerable pressures to which it is subjected underwater but return to its original shape when it returns to the surface.

In psychology, the first English-language studies in which the concept of resilience appeared were published by American psychologist Emmy Werner in the 1960s. Werner had gone to Hawaii to assess the development of children who had neither schools nor families and lived in great poverty, exposed to disease and violence. She followed these children for 30 years. At the end of that time, 70% of these individuals were in very bad shape, but the other 30% could read and write, had learned a trade, and had established a home.

Werner used the term “resilience” to designate the ability that these individuals had shown to develop successfully in environments that should have harmed their development. Resilience not only enables such individuals to withstand the pressures to which they are subject, but quite often to bounce back and turn their past traumas to good advantage. This ability also helps them to maintain good health and to resist illness—mental illness in particular.

The word “resilience” comes from the Latin resalire, which means “to jump again”. Thus resilient people “jump again”, but instead of coming down in the same place as if nothing had happened, they land a bit to one side or the other, so that they can keep moving forward. To say they are resilient does not mean that they are invulnerable. It means that they know how to get on with their lives despite their injuries and without becoming fixated on them.

A pattern has been detected among children who have been traumatized but develop the trait of resilience. They are children who have acquired a “primitive confidence” during the first year of their lives, so that it is as if they can tell themselves “I have been loved, so I am lovable, so I will keep up my hope of meeting someone who will help me resume my development.” These children live with grief but continue to relate to other people. If they are given opportunities to catch up and to express themselves, a high proportion (90 to 95%), will become resilient. These opportunities may include activities that let them be creative or test themselves, such as scouting, studying for an exam, planning a trip, or learning how to be useful. Their ability to express their inner resources can be greatly facilitated if a guardian or other adult reaches out to them and helps to reignite their self confidence.

Social involvement can also be a formidable factor contributing to resilience. For example, women who have been raped often volunteer for organizations that help rape victims. They do not talk about themselves, but instead talk to women like themselves.

Boris Cyrulnik, the author who pioneered the concept of resilience in France, writes: “The embers of resilience are present in everyone. If we can blow on them properly, then children who have been battered and bruised, whose development has been smothered by grief, mistreatment, or the atrocities of war, can come out of their ‘psychic agony’ and get their lives back on track.” Many research teams around the world are now beginning to discover the extent of the phenomenon of resilience, this previously unsuspected power to take back control over one’s own life.

Chercheur: Jacques Languirand rencontre Boris cyrulnik Chercheur: Boris Cyrulnik: Un merveilleux malheurChercheur: Boris Cyrulnik : L'art de survivre aux plus grands malheursLien: Entretien avec le neuropsychiatre Boris CyrulnikLien: Dans notre culture, l'enfant blessé est encouragé à faire une carrière de victime

Lien: Livre : Boris Cyrulnik, Un merveilleux malheurLien: Interview de Boris CyrulnikLien: A Guide to Promoting Resilience in Children:Strengthening the Human SpiritLien: TRAUMATISMES ET RÉSILIENCE Lien: Répertoire de sites sur la résilience

Lien: RésilienceLien: La résilienceLien: Résilience



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