Resilience or how to overcome hardships

Mourning, illness, violence … How do those who have suffered deep trauma and yet managed to rebuild without falling into a depression? This is what the psychs call resilience. We explain to you … how to overcome hardships.

In physics, resilience is the ability of a body to resist shocks and resume its original structure. Adapted to psychology, it refers to an individual’s ability to overcome the painful moments of life and develop in spite of adversity.

In other words, resilience consists in taking note of trauma (mourning, abandonment, incest, sexual violence, illness, war), learning to “live with” and bouncing back by changing perspective or even getting rid of a poisonous past to grow out of it.

A process that can be discovered in Armelle Guilcher ‘s book Les inconnus du Bout du Monde. She recounts the adventures of Marie, who has just lost her husband during a mission in Guyana. A few days after the funeral, she decides to go back to live in Cayenne in the hope of finding the answers to this tragedy. A step as part of its own resilience process. In this one, fate will put Alex on his way, who drowns him in a marriage that flounders.

The development of the concept of resilience

First evoked in the 1940s by American school psychologists, then in France in the early 1980s by John Bowlby. The concept of resilience was popularized by Boris Cyrulnik, ethologist, neuropsychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

Through various successful works (including A wonderful misfortune ), he has exposed the general public resilience as a vector of hope. Based on his own experience and the observation of various groups of people (survivors of concentration camps, Bolivian street children). He demonstrated that one could approach psychology and psychoanalysis in a more optimistic and less stigmatizing.

Misfortune must, therefore, be perceived as a step that can be overcome.

The mechanism of the resilience process

According to specialists, the resilient attitude is dynamic and goes through several phases of defense to counter negative trajectories.

– A resilient person goes through a revolt and a refusal to feel doomed to doom.

– Then come the dream and the challenge, that is to say, the wish to leave a stronger trauma, reaching a goal.

– We also note the attitude of denial, which consists in creating an image of a strong person in order to protect oneself from the pity of the entourage, even if an inner fragility remains.

– Finally humor: a resilient tend to develop a form of self-deprecation in the face of his trauma. A way of not resting in sadness. And cease to be exposed to the eyes of others as a victim of life.

It should also be noted that there are many resilient people who can enter a creative phase (writing, drawing). A way to exorcize misfortune, to think outside the box and to indirectly mark their difference. This is how to overcome hardships.

Inborn and acquired factors

Some genetic determinants are to be taken into account. According to individuals, the brain will not produce the same dose of dopamine, serotonin, and therefore euphoric substances. Some children at birth will, therefore, be more “active” and psychically stronger than others.

Other factors must be integrated, such as the character of the child (flexible, confident), the family climate in which he/she blossoms (harmonious, reassuring, united parental couple, strong maternal attachment) during the first years of life. and finally, the network of external relations that he manages to create (supporting or not, reassuring or not).

Statistically, a child with these 3 attributes gathered from an early age would be better equipped to face the difficulties of existence, without apparent distress.

Can we learn resilience?

After a shock or a painful test, an individual, whatever his age, is more or less forced to create a process of resilience. It is then a question of accepting the blow of the spell, of mastering it. And transforming it so that it can continue to live normally. Even if of course, the injury is present and will always remain …

The criticsovercome hardships

If the concept of resilience is well accepted and used in the United States, it seems more difficult to impose in Europe. The reason: American psychologists are more inspired by behavioralism to analyze certain phenomena and establish therapies.

In France, several psychoanalysts denounce the notion of resilience as a concept aiming to focus more on the symptoms rather than the origin of the individual’s ills.

Far from being perceived as a sign of invulnerability, resilience nevertheless has the advantage of conveying to the general public, an optimistic and anti-fatalistic message, better still a “realism of hope”. And this is how to overcome hardships.

Jeffrey Wilson

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