The development of resilience - a model
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The impetus for this study grew from observations in clinical practice that many individuals survived all sorts of hardships with minimal distress, or with the ability to tolerate their distress, and move on with their lives in a positive manner. A review of the literature led to the conclusions that the research investigating resilience was making minimal inroads into understanding what made these people different, and that the richness of who they were was being lost in the scientific process. This dissatisfaction led to the decision to explore the construct from a phenomenological framework, and to try and discover the essential elements of resilience through analysis of the subjective experience of resilience. A qualitative study involving thirteen participants identified by their peers as resilient was undertaken and the underlying themes of their stories were analysed. This led to the development of a model of resilience that attempted to balance the need for parsimony with that of explanatory breadth, and which had the potential to tolerate the complexity and instability of the construct itself. The model developed identified three core elements that embraced the construct of resilience. These included the physiological capacity to be resilient, and from this basis the ability to be adaptive and the ability to maintain well-being emerge. Factors identified with these elements include individual reactivity to and recovery from adverse events, the ability to be effective and efficient in the management of adverse events, and the beliefs about the world and the self that promote well-being when exposed to adverse events. The model has a basis within neurobiology and is framed within the context of Dynamic Systems Theory. The theory itself is a culmination of clinical observations with what is known from within the current literature and the results of this study.