Many people are exposed to numerous traumatic events throughout their lifespan. Some groups cannot cope with disturbing events (death of friends or relatives, diseases, etc.), but others demonstrate resilience and a quick recovery process. Resilience characterizes the measure of a person’s ability to withstand a stressful situation, maintaining internal balance and not reducing the activity’s success. Therefore, it is vital to explore why some people can endure potentially devastating events and what ways are effective for normal functioning after a painful experience.
Resilience has often been misunderstood since much psychological knowledge is based on cases in which people could not cope with traumas or losses. Hence, it was investigated from a pathological point of view and was seen as a rare phenomenon. However, this theory was disapproved, and the following evidence was suggested. Primarily, resilience stands for equilibrium and fosters the development of a person’s favorable mental and physical qualities. In terms of loss and trauma, this concept pertains to the ability of an adult to sustain the relatively stable functioning of all bodily systems. While recovering, individuals may experience anxiety, whereas resilient people, in turn, demonstrate transient disturbances, but they generally exhibit stability. Trauma and bereavement theorists have been skeptical about those who did not have any distressing reactions after the traumatic event. In turn, such cases were widespread, and the scientists agreed on the possibility of normal functioning after a loss or other disturbing experiences.
There has been a lot of research on bereavement and its consequences on a human’s psyche and body. Most studies show that interpersonal loss causes multiple mournful feelings deeply rooted in the brain, which in turn becomes a reminder of trauma. Nevertheless, there is strong evidence that people can cope with someone’s death and live normally. In the recent study, half of the participants expressed no grief over the demise of their loved ones (Bonanno, 2004). It does not mean they lack feeling but instead proves their resilience to such events. Such individuals have yearnings, but it does not last long because they quickly adapt to the new conditions. Moreover, those exposed to life-threatening situations can function normally as well; however, their behavioral patterns may drastically change.
There are specific methods of enhancing resilience; for instance, one may develop hardiness, which presupposes the possibility of finding a purpose in life and being confident about their future. Another way is to boost self-enhancement, which stands for self-esteem. Additionally, repressive coping may improve resilience (suppression of emotions); however, it is maladaptive (Bonanno, 2004). Finally, positive feelings and laughter help well to cope with the adversity.
In conclusion, many individuals are subjected to traumatic experiences which take a toll on their mental and physical states. However, the reaction varies depending on the degree of resilience. Some individuals may not express emotions or feelings since there are resilient enough. It presumes that they can maintain the balance without having depression or other conditions. Developing hardiness and self-enhancement and experiencing positive emotions are excellent means of improving resilience.
Bonanno, G.A. (2004). Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events? American Psychologist, 59, 20-28.