Authors: Anne Deveson
Event: 2001 TheMHS Conference
Subject: children, adolescent, development, copmi, book of proceedings
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Although resilience is an old word (Latin re-silere) it only became the focus of research in the nineteen seventies when psychologists and psychiatrists in the United States began studying the effect on children of living with a parent who had mental illness. Initial research was expected to reveal that a significant proportion of these children would either develop a mental illness, or be severely traumatised. Contrary to expectation, some ninety percent of these children not only survived, but grew to be competent well adjusted adults (Garmezy 72-74) Factors that were important included children needing to be needed, the presence of other adults in their lives, the support of community.
Results precipitated a flood of research, world-wide, into the impact of a vast range of stressors on childhood development (war, poverty, illness etc), leading to the concept of resilience as a dynamic process with positive points of intervention possible throughout life.
It also led to the challenging of myths such as the myth of irreversible damage, the myth of pre-determination and the myth of identity, all of which have hampered people struggling to find their mental health.
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