Reviewed Books & Films

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Thursday, May 07, 2015

Is There a Dark Side of Resilience?


Resilience Interventions for Youth in Diverse Populations, edited by Sandra Prince-Embury and Donald H. Saklofske, discusses a three-factor model of resilience that includes (a) having a sense of mastery, which involves elements such as identifying strengths and encouraging self-praise; (b) having a sense of relatedness, which includes, obviously, relationships with caring adults who are trusted, the development of support networks, and from the individual’s side, enhanced social skills and empathy; and (c) having the ability to regulate emotional reactivity. The book overviews interventions designed to enhance resilience for diverse groups of youths, including youths from low-income communities, families who are homeless, youths in foster care, transsexual youths, youths with chronic illness, youths with mental health needs, and youths with specific developmental disorders (e.g., autism).

Reviewers Ian M. Evans and Heather Nakahara offer the following commentary on the concept of resilience, particularly as it applies to the United States and other industrialized nations:

When you then look at the children in the world who are denied education, who are chronically hungry, who are refugees living in United Nations tents in a foreign country, who are orphaned by HIV/AIDS and Ebola, or who are genitally mutilated, stoned, whipped or otherwise denigrated in the name of religion, it is a little difficult to get too concerned about worried Australian teens, financially strapped Greek families, or kids with too many smartphones. All resilience challenges are not created equal.

That may be a harsh comment, but we consider there is a dark side of resilience work: It seems to judge children and youth to be at risk because they are not adequate to weather inequitable systems and flawed institutions…But resilience work, however much we need to be open to its possibilities, also represents a form of political philosophy—an extension of the great American dream: suck it up[,] kid, toughen up[.] [S]uccess comes to those individuals willing to take responsibility (control their emotions), work hard, feel powerful, and reward themselves (paras. 14, 15).

Do you agree with the reviewers’ viewpoint regarding the “dark side of resilience work”? Why or why not?  Does the resilience construct lack applicability across the variety of adversities that youths face globally?

Read the Review
ReviewResilience Interventions Are Here: The Psychology of Toughen Up and Suck It Up
By Ian M. Evans and Heather Nakahara
      PsycCRITIQUES, 2015 Vol 60(15)


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Editor of PsycCRITIQUES

Danny Wedding, PhD

Chair of Behavioral Sciences,
College of Medicine,
American University of Antigua

Associate Editors of PsycCRITIQUES

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