Poll How do you feel about the way Resilience is thrown around?

How do you feel about the way resilience is used in the psychiatric community

  • Hate it!

    Votes: 5 29.4%
  • Love the concept.

    Votes: 1 5.9%
  • Depends on where my head is.

    Votes: 8 47.1%
  • Don’t know.

    Votes: 3 17.6%

  • Total voters
    17

Charbella

MyPTSD Pro
The way the psychiatric community treats that word. It’s like they weaponized it. “You have PTSD because you aren’t resilient.” “Therapists should build their clients resilience.”

Really what leads to PTSD is a lack of support, so when bad things happen you’re not inclined to reach out and seek help which of course is because of a lack of support. Resilience is something you either get through how you grow up or you didn’t. This is what I’ve concluded about the way the term is used.

Someone who’s gone through the same circumstances but doesn’t have PTSD is resilient, but really it’s their support system. Some of us find people to be the source of their pain, why would we reach out to them? How many times should you be bitten by a dog before you stop putting your hand out.

Personally I prefer perseverance and what it says about a person. It says you’ve gotten through stuff no matter how big or small. It doesn’t rely on the action of inaction of others.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
hmmmmm. . . i can't say i have noticed, but i have been out of formal therapy for long enough to have missed a generation or two of over-used words. the word which was over-used to the point of driving me crazier in the 70's and 80's was, "creative." we don't know WTF we are doing, so we'll have to get creative.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
I recently heard a term “potentially traumatic event” versus “traumatic event”. Because of how the same event may not lead to trauma for different people. Trauma is what comes after the event not the event itself, according to that line of thinking.

I like your description that PTSD arises from a lack of support. That makes a lot of sense and I can’t think of any logical counter-argument for it.
 

Sideways

Moderator
what leads to PTSD is a lack of support,
I disagree.

PTSD is a mental illness. Event A occurs, and at some point in the future, certain neurons in the brain start firing abnormally, especially in the amygdala. The hippocampus starts storing information in an abnormal way. It's no more caused by lack of support than hayfever. Some people just happen to be allergic to certain pollens in the air. Some people just happen to have their amygdala become overactive and their hippocampus malfunction.

Environmental factors are definitely relevant. Plenty of studies to show that. There are a heap of things that can decrease the likelihood of a whole range of mental illnesses. Good mental health stuff (good support networks being one of them, but then, healthy diet and good sleep are in there, as is luck in the gene pool, avoiding certain substances, and on and on) can (not "will") reduce the likelihood of developing the mental illness, and can reduce the severity of the illness where it does occur.

But, it's still an illness. Shitty luck means that not only did I experience trauma, but for a whole range of mostly uncontrollable reasons, I went on to develop an illness as a result. Just like 2 people might slip on the same wet tiles - one walks away totally fine, the other needs a knee reconstruction and spinal surgery.

Resilience, to me, isn't about whether you develop the illness or not. It's about what you choose to do if you happen to develop a mental illness. And if that illness happens to be severe for you, resilience is about what you choose to do despite the shitty luck of having a severe mental illness.

Probably the term has been used very differently by my various treatment providers over the years than what you've experienced. But to me, shitty people who did shitty things caused my trauma, but mostly it was shitty luck that caused me to develop an illness on top of having endured that trauma. Resilience is a choice you get to make despite the shitty hand you've been given.

If resilience is being used as a put-down by anyone in your treatment team - if someone suggests to you that trying harder is the answer - kick them to curb. Their job is to provide treatment for an illness, not make you feel like shit for having double bad luck (trauma and consequent illness, as if the trauma alone wasn't enough).
 

Charbella

MyPTSD Pro
I disagree.

PTSD is a mental illness. Event A occurs, and at some point in the future, certain neurons in the brain start firing abnormally, especially in the amygdala. The hippocampus starts storing information in an abnormal way. It's no more caused by lack of support than hayfever. Some people just happen to be allergic to certain pollens in the air. Some people just happen to have their amygdala become overactive and their hippocampus malfunction.

Environmental factors are definitely relevant. Plenty of studies to show that. There are a heap of things that can decrease the likelihood of a whole range of mental illnesses. Good mental health stuff (good support networks being one of them, but then, healthy diet and good sleep are in there, as is luck in the gene pool, avoiding certain substances, and on and on) can (not "will") reduce the likelihood of developing the mental illness, and can reduce the severity of the illness where it does occur.

But, it's still an illness. Shitty luck means that not only did I experience trauma, but for a whole range of mostly uncontrollable reasons, I went on to develop an illness as a result. Just like 2 people might slip on the same wet tiles - one walks away totally fine, the other needs a knee reconstruction and spinal surgery.

Resilience, to me, isn't about whether you develop the illness or not. It's about what you choose to do if you happen to develop a mental illness. And if that illness happens to be severe for you, resilience is about what you choose to do despite the shitty luck of having a severe mental illness.

Probably the term has been used very differently by my various treatment providers over the years than what you've experienced. But to me, shitty people who did shitty things caused my trauma, but mostly it was shitty luck that caused me to develop an illness on top of having endured that trauma. Resilience is a choice you get to make despite the shitty hand you've been given.

If resilience is being used as a put-down by anyone in your treatment team - if someone suggests to you that trying harder is the answer - kick them to curb. Their job is to provide treatment for an illness, not make you feel like shit for having double bad luck (trauma and consequent illness, as if the trauma alone wasn't enough).
No one has ever used it that way. I read a lot, including lots of studies and a lot of books for therapists. Resilience is something they talk of building in clients in a lot of places. For me the reason I don’t have the skills they refer to is because of my upbringing. In other words the very reason the Trauma effected me different is because I lacked the resilience to process it correctly. Also the reason the trauma occurred is because of the environment I grew up in, yay a catch 22.

Resilience definition

Reasons people develop PTSD

both of these links are quotes from the American Psychiatric Association, though the 2nd one isn’t their site.

so no, no one on my team has ever said it, but yes the psychiatric community does. There is evidence as you say that there is a genetic component but since no one in my world has ever said anything I’m left to conclude that in my case there isn’t a genetic component. This includes my grandpa who served in WWII combat. Genetically I have ADHD in my family, both sides, skin cancer, and longevity (dang it). I’m not saying my family hasn’t been exposed to trauma, of that there has been plenty, but developed PTSD because of it, no…

Thank you for a different perspective. I used to think the same, resilient, I would’ve said yes, despite what I’ve been through, I’m first generation college graduate, I’ve had the same job 18 years, I’m well-respected in said job, I own my condo, I’m relatively debt free. A perfectly functioning member of society…okay clearly not perfectly.
 

Tinyflame

MyPTSD Pro
Resilience is not a word that bothers me personally, but I would love to have more, would feel hopeful if others thought I could or had suggestions to try, and certainly know how it feels to not feel resilient.

. Resilience is something they talk of building in clients in a lot of places. For me the reason I don’t have the skills they refer to is because of my upbringing.
^^ I'm not sure I would agree with you, it sounds like you have accomplished much.

But, Idk, I don't feel resilience is a skill. I have white -knuckled through years and experiences many would have not, but again I wouldn't call it resilience. It was more like having no alternative, or no alternative that wasn't even worse. And these experiences pushed me to my absolute physical, emotional and psychological limits often. But going by what lack of resilience is like when I experience it, even the smallest event or poor thought process is debilitating, filled with terror, overwhelming, or leads to SI. I think it is from the stress cup, lack of sleep, illness or exhaustion, lack of self-care, poor eating, a hugely overwrought nervous system, denying myself support, thinking negatively, and being broken-hearted.

Resilience to me is the health and ability to manage and process without such extremes the challenges and sorrows of life, hopefully also a bit gracefully. So doing the things that reduce the stress cup, combat isolation, break down cognitive distortions, build me up, care for my mind, heart, body and soul, asking for help, trusting where deserved- well I expect they would contribute if I cling to them and do them, but at the same time would not lead to or be equated to indifference or callousness or despair in the process of dealing with life.
 
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OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
Event A occurs, and at some point in the future, certain neurons in the brain start firing abnormally, especially in the amygdala. The hippocampus starts storing information in an abnormal way. It's no more caused by lack of support than hayfever.
Comparing PTSD to hay fever is misleading, in my opinion. I can see how it might be helpful for you and others to think of it this way for your own recovery journey, but applying that to all people might be too broad a stroke.

A quick search of PTSD and Social support will reveal numerous studies providing evidence that social support is either unavailable or perceived as unavailable by people who develop PTSD from events.

The brain doesn’t fire randomly from nothing. There is a book called “Nurturing Resilience” that posits that resilience develops from a nurturing environment. If a person experiences a potentially traumatic event but is immediately nurtured and continues to be nurtured then the chances that their amygdala and hippocampus will react the way you describe are greatly reduced.

And further there is even something called post-traumatic growth where a person’s life is positively affected by an event which others developed PTSD from. There was a study on adults who went through the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center which revealed this. Perhaps the nurturing and social support they were able to receive played a part in that.

Finally, some evidence exists that combat veterans who developed PTSD were more likely to have come from a background of abuse and neglect, possibly they were less able to seek or receive nurturing and support.

I am not claiming any of these to be absolute however the idea that PTSD develops randomly from brain misfiring without any input from the environment seems unsupported. And I see you saying
Good mental health stuff (good support networks being one of them, but then, healthy diet and good sleep are in there, as is luck in the gene pool, avoiding certain substances, and on and on) can (not "will") reduce the likelihood of developing the mental illness, and can reduce the severity of the illness where it does occur.

But, it's still an illness.
In which you pay homage to the idea that environment plays a part. But I think you are focusing on the word illness and therefore equating it with hay fever and breaking a knee and that seems inaccurate, as in, if that were true then people could develop PTSD from their brain just randomly misfiring due to… what, genetics? Bad luck, as you say? Lack of social support might be bad luck but luck in itself is not a reason for developing or not developing PTSD, as I understand it. And I’m not sure how helpful it is to think that way for me.

I used to think I was unlucky for having OCD, that it was random brain misfiring. Then I realized there were real reasons I was driven to all that compulsive behavior and it was due to the environment I grew up in, and there were real things I could do to get better. I think you and I both agree on that part because I know how important CBT is to you, which is full of concrete actions. But illness doesn’t necessarily mean random brain firing in my book.

In some ways there’s a certain amount of freedom in attributing it to random brain firing. It puts you in a neutral position. I can see how it would be helpful. And therefore it is not my goal to change your position, but rather to advocate for another position which, as I said, I think you did acknowledge. Perhaps we are speaking to two sides of the same coin.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
I find more resonance for my situation in the idea that PTSD is an injury - either a really big one, or a repeated grinding away in cPTSD , rather than an ‘illness’ .

I also agree that the support thing is relevant - but I don’t think it has to be AFTER the event. I think that it can be before too, or a combination of both. Eg - there is a lot written about impact of adverse childhood experiences ( ACEs) and less but some also looking at Positive Childhood experiences. If you have many ACEs but also sufficient PCEs to balance them you might grow up skeptical but not with mental health disorder, even if your support network is lost later ( say bereavement). Or not .

I think maybe my cPTSD only was able to unleash because I had felt safe AFTER a previously traumatic life and the unsettling experiences- despite some good support- reminded me of systematic failures I thought I’d scraped myself on to the right side of the line of. I’m certain if I did not have support I would not have progressed at all but rather become worse and developed other compounding mental health problems-
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
Um- I didn’t answer the OP. I actually believe myself to be resilient. I did not fit a long time , but resilient doesn’t mean totally impervious or indestructible- it just means ‘ resilient’. I am coming around to the idea that given the challenges I faced during childhood ‘only’ having PTSD , not a history of criminal behaviour or addiction other than disordered eating is resilient.

Superman ? No. Wonder Woman , no . But for a human with just ordinary powers and not enough tools and support at my disposal- I think I’ve been fairly resilient.

If others socially feel differently - meh . I do get frustrated when it’s perceived as weakness , when it comes to medical research and decisions or lawmaking
 

Charbella

MyPTSD Pro
Um- I didn’t answer the OP. I actually believe myself to be resilient. I did not fit a long time , but resilient doesn’t mean totally impervious or indestructible- it just means ‘ resilient’. I am coming around to the idea that given the challenges I faced during childhood ‘only’ having PTSD , not a history of criminal behaviour or addiction other than disordered eating is resilient.

Superman ? No. Wonder Woman , no . But for a human with just ordinary powers and not enough tools and support at my disposal- I think I’ve been fairly resilient.

If others socially feel differently - meh . I do get frustrated when it’s perceived as weakness , when it comes to medical research and decisions or lawmaking
That’s a great perspective.
 

Tinyflame

MyPTSD Pro
I like the way you framed it too @Mee . You have been very resilient!

I think you bring up a good point, support or ability to access it before, or during, or reframing/debriefing just post it is critically helpful.

I think post traumatic growth has a lot to do with perspective, reframing and attitude. Like Victor Frankl.
 
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