Psychological resilience is the ability to withstand, or recover successfully from, the effects of severe adversity. There is a growing interest in the concept, as part of strengths-based approaches to health. The concept has a signifi cant historical pedigree and a background in different academic and clinical fi elds. Some studies have been infl uenced by characterisations of historic individuals or groups who appeared to demonstrate resilience. There are advantages and limitations in using history to illuminate contemporary theoretical constructs. Single historical case studies offer useful insights but caution is needed regarding retrospective assumptions. Research with groups of people who lived during historical events is the most promising perspective, but there may be problems with recruitment bias and the length of time elapsed. Examining trends in resilience research demonstrates that the concept was previously been associated with illness and is increasingly associated with health promotion. This may refl ect cultural and political change. The resilience concept is relevant to mental health professionals, but there are unanswered basic questions which limit it’s usefulness in diagnosis or therapeutics. There are three main areas of debate; the defi nitions of resilience, whether resiliency is a personality trait or can be developed dynamically and if resilience can be measured with reliability and stability. Conceptual analysis to uncover the underlying theoretical model of resilience is at an early stage. Models from other social and life sciences, in particular Human Ecology, salutogenic theory, animal models, genetics and the biosciences may prove to be the most promising pathways for the future.
Keywords: Resilience, mental health, trauma, recovery, salutogenesis, history of resilience, psychometric measurement
P.A. Atkinson, J. M. Atkinson, C. R. Martin, J. Rankin, Historical perspectives on resilience and concepts of relevance for mental health in "RIVISTA SPERIMENTALE DI FRENIATRIA" 1/2010, pp. 21-40, DOI:10.3280/RSF2010-001003