Why Some Children Succeed despite the Odds

Why Some Children Succeed despite the Odds

Why Some Children Succeed despite the Odds

Why Some Children Succeed despite the Odds


In this volume, mental health professionals pioneer a shift in focus from the treatment of dysfunctional children and adults toward the identification of factors which are found in "resilient" children, or, those who overcome their adverse surrounding and even emerge strengthened. Children from many diverse populations, ranging from stepchildren to developmentally delayed children to children of religious cults, are examined and the elements common to their healthy adjustment identified. The establishment of a model for the recognition of resilience lays the groundwork for primary prevention specialists to develop and implement preventive rather than remedial programs for children designated "at risk."


Robert D. Felner

In applying clinical ways of thinking formulated out of experience with broken adults, we were slow to see how the language of adequacy to meet life's challenges could become the subject matter of pyschological science. Thus there are thousands of studies of maladjustment for each one that deals directly with the ways of managing life's problems with personal strength and adequacy. The language of problems, difficulties, inadequacies, of antisocial or delinquent conduct, or of ambivalence and anxiety is familiar. We know that there are devices for correcting, bypassing, or overcoming threats, but for the most part these have not been studied.

Murphy, 1962

Since the time that Iois Murphy wrote these words, the study of "positive mental health" has come into vogue in psychology and related disciplines. Coping, life skills, social skills, mastery, hardiness, empowerment, self-esteem, and social competence are all constructs that have moved into the forefront of attention and study. Indeed, that ubiquitous and "traditional" bastion of psychopathology and the illness model of disorder, the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Mental Disorders" (DSM-III-R) now devotes an entire diagnostic axis to the consideration of the highest level of functioning of the person on positive mental health. Explicit in this addition is the recognition that "ratings of highest level of functioning during the past year will frequently have prognostic significance" and that "ratings of current functioning will generally reflect the current need for treatment or care," even given the presence of other dysfunction (DSM-III-R, 1987 p. 20).

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