Resilience and Vulnerability

The set of intrapsychic and social processes that enable the individual to develop a healthy life is known as resilience even when living in an unhealthy environment. The process results from the combination of individual attributes and the family, social and cultural environment. (ASSIS, PESCE and AVANCI, p.19, 2006).

Thus, we cannot define resilience as an attribute that is neither innate nor acquired through development. It is somewhat an interactive process between the person and the environment, an individual response to stress-causing factors. These can – and usually are – experienced in different ways by different people, which means that resilience is not a fixed attribute of the individual (Rutter apud Pesce, 2009); it is an adaptation, a peculiar (re)action to risk factors (RUTTER apud CECCONELO and KOLLER, 2000, p.73).

While some people, exposed to risky situations, can develop problems, others can develop ways to overcome these adversities, adapting to the context. When they manage to adapt and overcome such cases, these people show that they have skills such as social competence (CECCONELLO apud CECCONELO and KOLLER, 2000, p.73). To this adaptive skill, Garmezi (apud CECCONELO and KOLLER, 2000, p.73) gives the name of resilience.

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