Monday, May 13, 2013

When being "resilient" is part of the problem

A fascinating reaport came out of Boston this morning about the slogan "Boston Strong" being an issue for some mental health professionals.

Mental health experts worried about ‘Boston Strong’ slogan
By Deborah Kotz
MAY 13, 2013

The slogan “Boston Strong” that emerged days after the Marathon bombings resonates with many — including two-thirds of the more than 500 readers who answered a poll.

More than 50,000 Boston Strong T-shirts have been sold to raise money for a victims’ charity fund, and the phrase has been plastered on posters and signs throughout the city.

But mental health specialists are concerned that some still traumatized by the Marathon attacks might deem themselves weak or inadequate for not feeling that Boston strength.

“I think it is probably attempting to speak to a sense of resilience and strength on the level of the community,” said Dr. Michael Leslie, a psychiatrist who treats trauma patients at McLean Hospital in Belmont. “But there are people who will read this in a personal way, as an exhortation that they themselves need to be strong” no matter what they’re actually feeling. That would be “an unfortunate conclusion to draw from the phrase,” he added.
read more here

In the article, this came out.
"Nearly 9 percent of poll respondents said they didn’t like the slogan because it makes them feel like they have to be strong."

RESILIENT : characterized or marked by resilience: as
a : capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture
b : tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

The word does not mean "untouched" or "unchanged" by what happens. The first part of the definition is not about a person but is about an object.

Being resilient does not mean they are unbreakable. All it means is they are able to hold out a little bit longer than others. It does not mean they be unchanged. It just means the change in them will not destroy them. If they have a misunderstanding of what resilience is, that can cause a whole new problem.

The military has been pushing the term of "resilience" as if it is supposed to mean they can overcome everything without being changed or harmed. When they believe that is what comes next after "it" happened to them, they have a harder time when reality sinks in and they discover they are only human after all.

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