After a great article related to the movie industry and all the stigma it brings, we are back with a word you certainly hear everywhere : resilience.

Wix.Def. Resilience, noun: It is the buffer capacity or the ability of a system to absorb perturbation, or the magnitude of disturbance that can be absorbed before a system changes its structure by changing the variables. (Holling et al., 1995) [1] [2]

What does this mean?

We define resilience as the ability to adapt and overcome stressful or traumatic events and adversity. There are in life some events that can result in depression, PTSD, high anxiety level, but somehow people do not react to events the same way. Most people do not develop mental health issues. How is that?

Where does it come from?

There are different factors shaping our resilience from epigenetics to environment. It is more of a process starting from the womb and highly sensitive to our interaction with the world. Researchers suggest that resilience building is based on multiple protective and promotive factors such as: good parenting, self-regulation skill, effective schools, community resources.[3] These factors that one can see as a quite basic and insignificant are powerful during the child/human development therefore any adversity or inconvenience that will be sin as a threat to one of these can affect the process of building one’s resilience.

“More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails.” [4]

Now I see you, trying to use this word whenever you get the chance to shine in society. Let’s rethink the resilience concept.

If you’ve done it so far you now know what resilience is. As a result, we may ask ourselves : is being resilient denying all adversity, failure, danger? Is it possible to be resilient while being all things considered, vulnerable?

In a perfect world inhabited by perfect humans, people resilience levels may be perfect, super humans all time ready to face whatever comes their way. Unfortunately, we are not. However, let’s consider this: We recently learnt a lot about what resilience: a process, meaning that people are at different stage and level of that building process. That vision suggests that resilience and what we consider as its opposite vulnerability are part of a continuum, both being the perfect opposite. Although, this also means that there will never be pure resilience nor immaculate vulnerability. [1]

Moreover Michael Ungar [6] discussing resilience in different cultures reminds us of something important. If Resilience is indeed shaped by environmental factors, then the process is influenced by something that is vicariously and constantly present in our environment, learning, social interactions: culture. There is no such thing as a unique way of being resilient, on the contrary, by keeping in mind the main definition of the said concept, we also agree on the fact that there is as many resilience patterns as people on earth.

Finally, allow me to conclude this article with by quoting Wu, & al. (2013) [7] on why studying the concept of resilience.

“Resilience as successful adaptation relies on effective responses to environmental challenges and ultimate resistance to the deleterious effects of stress, therefore a greater understanding of the factors that promote such effects is of great relevance.”

Sources & Bibliography

[1] Manyena, S. B. (2006). The concept of resilience revisited. Disasters, 30(4), 434–450. doi:10.1111/j.0361-3666.2006.00331.x

[2] Herrman, H., Stewart, D. E., Diaz-Granados, N., Berger, E. L., Jackson, B., & Yuen, T. (2011). What is Resilience? The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 56(5), 258–265. https://doi.org/10.1177/070674371105600504

[3] Anne, N, M., J, J. C., Janette, E. H. & Marie-Gabrielle, J. R., (2009). Resilience in Development, in Shane, J. L. , C. R. S., (2009). Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, Chapter 12, 117-133

[4] Diane, L. C., (2002). How Resilience Works.

[5] Egeland, B., Carlson, E., & Sroufe, L. (1993). Resilience as process. Development and Psychopathology, 5(4), 517-528. doi:10.1017/S0954579400006131

[6] Ungar, M. (2008). Resilience across cultures. British Journal of Social Work, 38(2), 218–235. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcl343

[7] Wu, G., Feder, A., Cohen, H., Kim, J. J., Calderon, S., Charney, D. S., & Mathé, A. A. (2013). Understanding resilience. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00010

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