Psychological resiliency, defined

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I am reminded of a favorite passage (about post-earthquake sociology) from a favorite novel :

“I recall a point made in one of the Disasterville monographs. I think it was number 6. Stripped of the material belongings which had located them in society, a lot of refugees who formerly held responsible, status-high positions broke down into whining useless parasites. Leadership passed to those with more flexible minds – not only kids who hadn’t ossified yet, but adults who previously had been called unpractical, dreamers, even failures. The one thing they had in common seemed to be a free-ranging imagination, regardless of whether it was due to their youth or whether it had lasted into maturity and fettered them with too great a range of possibilities for them to settle to any single course of action.”

The Shockwave Rider (John Brunner)



Peter Kramer discussed this in the context of depression in his 2005 book Against Depression. He said that the opposite of depression is not happiness but resilience. Unfortunately, I’m not confident that teaching resilience is more widely effective than other forms of cognitive therapy, which work for some people and not others. As Maria Konnikova notes cautiously in the linked-to article, “Human beings are capable of worry and rumination”.

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