Personality and Resilience: A Critical Analysis

By Mohanty, Smita | Indian Journal of Positive Psychology, September 2016 | Go to article overview

Personality and Resilience: A Critical Analysis


Mohanty, Smita, Indian Journal of Positive Psychology


Understanding people in a sensitive environment has become a challenge for social scientists. Both sociologists and social psychologists are striving very hard to dive deep into the dynamics of the subject. For almost a century, since Sigmund Freud, till date, personality is researched from several view points.

Concept of resilience

Resilience can be defined as "a dynamic process encompassing positive adaption within the context ofserious adversity" (Luthar et al., 2000, p.543). Studies of resilience require making judgments about what constitutes both a serious threat and a successful outcome. Because resilience requires adapting to serious threat and a successful outcome. Because resilience requires adapting to serious adversity, only people who have experienced such threats can be considered resilient. Studies have examined a range of serious threats including chronic conditions, such as poverty, family illness, or neighborhood violence, and acute stressors, such as an accident or illness. People may experience multiple risk factors. Similarly, successful outcomes have been defined in a arrange of ways from maintaining psychological well-being, to avoiding delinquency, to achieving social or academic success (Masten, 2001; Masten & Coastsworth, 1998). People can be resilient in one outcome but not in others. For example, someone could avoid delinquency but still may be depressed. Originally, scholars presented resilience as a personality trait, but more recent work describes it as a development process that is not static (Luthar et al., 2000).

Here is a review of various definitions of resilience

* The capacity ofa system to absorb disturbance, undergo change and still retainessentiallythe same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks."

* "Resilience is the happy knack of being able to bungee jump through the pitfalls of life." (Fuller, 1998, p.75)

* "[Resilient children are] ... invulnerable children those children who, despite genetic, psychological, and environmental disadvantage, continue to adapt and perform competently." (Germezy, 1974, p.65).

* Resilience of children, that is their capacity to cope effectively with the internal stresses of their vulnerabilities (such as labile patterns of autonomic reactivity, developmental imbalances, unusual sensitivities) and external stresses (such as illness, major losses, and dissolution ofthe family). Even through the most stressful experiences in the most terrible homes, some individuals appear to emerge unscathed and to develop astable, healthy personality" (Wemer& Smith, 1989, p.4).

* "Resilience is a broad conceptual umbrella, covering many concepts related to positive patterns of adaptation in the context of adversity." (Masten & Obradovic, 2006, p.14)

* "Recurring attributes of person, relationships and context emerge as predictors or correlates of resilience across diverse situations, implicating a 'short list' of probable and rather general factors associated with good adaptation or recovery following significant adversity." (Masten& Obradovic, 2006, p.21).

* "[A development in resilience research],.. was the recognition that positive adaptation despite adversity is never permanent; rather there is a developmental progression, with new vulnerabilities and strengths emerging with changing life circumstances. A related qualifier was that children can seem resilient in terms of their behaviors but still might struggle with inner distress in the form of problems such as depression and anxiety... scholars now underscore the need to consider the unique profiles, and associated intervention needs, of youth who are behaviorally stellar but at the same time psychologically vulnerable." (Luthar, 2006, p. 741).

* " Resilience is not static, it is not a trait, and it is not a construct that can be directly measured. Resilience is a 'super ordinate' construct that is indirectly inferred from two component constructs subsumed under its definition: risk exposure and 'god' adaptation. …

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