While resilience has been overlooked in the therapeutics area, it has been well-documented in the literature. Since at least the 1970s, there has been an extensive literature published on child resilience including the longitudinal follow up studies of children from the Hawaiian island of Kawaii.
The Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Program at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, became interested in resiliency as a slightly serendipitous observation during the course of a trial studying fluoxetine and placebo in people with PTSD. A measure evaluating how upset a person had been in the last week by life stresses, showed that fluoxetine was very effective in helping people cope with daily stresses (Slide 13).
The simple definition of resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. However, the literature cites a number of other aspects to resilience (Slide 14). Kobasa, a psychologist who has worked extensively in the area of resilience, tends to see it as similar to hardiness, in which there are certain components that are very salient. The first component is the view of stress, or difficulty, as a challenge. Second, is to have a sustained commitment to overcome whatever is necessary. Third, is the ability to possess internal control while being able to accept things one does not have complete control over.
The importance of having support from other people has been emphasized by Rutter. He theorized that one has the capacity to have close and secure attachments and a good sense of self-efficacy. He also notes the strengthening effects of stress. In children who cope well with difficulties, it is useful to tap into previous successes in order to harness some confidence from prior success. An action-oriented approach to problems, called active coping, can be useful.