Resilience: a structuring force

Giulia Riccio, America Espinosa Hernandez, Raffaella Perrella


The destabilizing power of a traumatic experience has been widely discussed in many studies; however, on the other hand, many studies in psychological literature show a different view of this experience. This study addresses the positive meaning and the transforming power of an event, which, although devastating, reveals to the subject skills, unknown until now. Referring to recent longitudinal studies (Cimino, S., Sinesi, S., Monniello, G., (2012); Cimino, S., Monniello, G., Cerniglia, L., Ballarotto G. (2013) it is proposed to highlight how it is an usual position which is generated in order to deal with the pain. In these studies, the traumatic event taken into account concerns parental loss in children and adolescents (development age) in the attempt to explore, by the use of specific instruments such as Symptom Checklist – 90 – R, (Derogatis, 1994); Eating Attitude Test-40 (Garner and Garfinkel, 1979) and Adolescent Dissociative Experiences Scale (Armstrong et al., 1997), the multiple aspects of the subjective answer to the traumatic event. In addition, a more systemic review is given to the different measures of resilience, such as: dispositional measures (Miller Behavioral Style Scale, Miller, 1987) and situational ones (Ways of Coping Questionnaire, Lazarus and Folkman, 1984); and also, to the psychotherapeutic processes intended as an element to promote the increment of such capacity with a particular reference to the cognitive-behavioral and systemic-relational model.                                                                           Finally, special attention is given to the protective value of a secure attachment, together with the ability for mentalization, considered as aspects capable of strengthening some important cognitive-emotional self regulation abilities and, therefore, promoting the development of resilient behavior. In conclusion, the many aims of this study are: to provide a right definition of resilience, to try analysing and fixing solutions about the main theoretical controversies over this matter; moreover, this study tries to highlight all those factors that contribute to influence resilient behaviours and to identify strategies and procedures that can facilitate or hinder their execution.


Post-traumatic growth; Resilience; Coping; Resistance; Emotional health; Recovery

Full Text:



1. Ainsworth, M.S. (1989). Attachments beyond infancy. American psychologist, 44, 709- 716.

2. Armstrong, J. G., Putnam, F.W., Carlson, E.B., Libero D.Z., Smith, S.R. (1997). Development and validation of a measure of adolescent dissociation: the adolescent dissociative experiences scale. Journal of nervous & Mental Disease, 185, 491- 497

3. Bannour, W. (1992). Jean- Martin Charcot et l’ hystérie. Parigi: Métailié.

4. Bleuler, E., Ghia, F., Ghia, G. (2014) (a cura di). Trattato di psichiatria. Brescia: La scuola editore.

5. Blos, P. (1967). The Second Individuation Process of Adolescence. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 22, 162-186.

6. Bowlby, J. (1988). A Secure Base: Parent-Child Attachment and Healthy Human Development. New York: Basic Books.

7. Caviglia, G. (1998). Il concetto di trauma nella letteratura psicodinamica. Psichiatria dell’ infanzia e dell’adolescenza, 65, 355-366.

8. Caviglia, G., Perrella, R., La Marra, M., Bisogno, S. (2007). Esiti psicopatologici del trauma e dell’abuso: ricerche empiriche e modelli eziopatogenetici. Psichiatria dell’infanzia e dell’adolescenza, 74,183-193.

9. Caviglia, G. (2016). Teoria dell’attaccamento. Roma: Carocci Editore.

10. Cicognani, E., Zani, B. (1999) Le vie del benessere : eventi di vita e strategie di coping. Roma: Carocci Editore.

11. Cimino, S., Sinesi, S., Monniello, G. (2012). The loss of parent in childhood : an empirical study on preadolescent sample. Psichiatria dell’infanzia e dell’adolescenza, 79, 396-412.

12. Cimino, S., Monniello, G., Cerniglia, L., Ballarotto G. (2013) Early parental loss and psychological functioning. A longitudinal study in a sample of subject from 11 to 16 years of age. Psichiatria dell’infanzia e dell’adolescenza, 80:86-104.

13. Derogatis, L.R., Unger, R.. (2010) Symptom Checklist- 9- Revised. Weiner IB, Craighead WE (a cura di). The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

14. Fonagy, P., Target, M., Del Corno, F. (2005) (a cura di). Psicopatologia evolutiva: le teorie psicoanalitiche. Milano: Raffaello Cortina Editore.

15. Freud, S., Orlando, F . (1975) (a cura di) . Il motto di spirito e la sua relazione con l’inconscio. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri.

16. Freud, S., Marietti, A.M., Colorni, R. (1986) (a cura di). Al di là del principio del piacere. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri.

17. Freud, S., Rossi, M . (1988) (a cura di) . Inibizione , sintomo e angoscia. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri.

18. Freud, S, Pfister, O. (1990) (a cura di). L’avvenire di un’illusione. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri.

19. Freud, S., Tonin Dogana, M., Sagittario, E. (2012) (a cura di) Introduzione alla psicoanalisi. Torino : Bollati Boringhieri.

20. Garner, D.M., Garfinkel, P.E. (1979). The eating attitudes test: an index of the symptoms of anorexia nervosa. Psychological Medicine, 9, 273-279.

21. Garner, D.M., Olmsted, M.P., Bohr, Y., Garfinkel, P.E. (1982). The eating attitudes test: psychometric features and clinical correlates. Psychological Medicine,12, 871-878.

22. Green, A. (1996). Il lavoro del negativo. Roma: Borla.

23. Janet, P., Ortu, F. (2013) (a cura di). L’automatismo psicologico. Milano: Raffaello Cortina Editore.

24. Janet, P. (2016). Trauma, coscienza, personalità. Scritti clinici. Milano: Raffaello Cortina Editore.

25. Khan, M.M.R. (1979). Lo spazio privato del sé. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri.

26. Kohn, Paul, M., O’Brien- Wood,. (2003) .The Personal Functioning Inventory: A reliable and valid measure of adaptiveness in coping. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 35, 111-123.

27. Kohut, H. (1979). La ricerca del sé. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri.

28. Lacan, J., Di Ciaccia, A., Succetti, A. (2007) (a cura di). Il seminario. Libro X. L’angoscia 1962-63. Milano: Einaudi.

29. Lazarus R.S., Folkman S. (1984), Stress, appraisal and coping, New York, Springer.

30. Loriedo, C., Picardi, A. (2008) . Dalla teoria generale dei sistemi alla teoria dell’attaccamento. Milano: Franco Angeli.

31. Luthar, L., Suniya, S. (1989). Resilience in development : a synthesis of research across five decades . Developmental Psychopathology, 3, 739-795.

32. Lyons- Ruth, K., Block, D. (1996). The disrubed caregiving system: relations among childhood trauma, maternal caregiving and infant affect and attachment . Infant Mental Health Journal,17, 257- 275.

33. Miller, S.M. (1987). Monitoring and blunting: validation of a questionnaire to assess styles of information seeking under threat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 345-353.

34. Muris, P., Merckelbach, H., Peeters, E. (2003). The links between the adolescent Dissociative Experiences Scale (A-DES), fantasy, proneness and anxiety symptoms. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease ,191, 18-22

35. Padesky, C.A., Mooney, K.A.. (2012). Stregths-based cognitive- behavioural therapy : a four step model to build resilience. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 19, 283-290.

36. Perrella, R., Semerari, A., Caviglia, G. (2013). Metacognition, borderline pathology and psychotherapeutic change : a single case study . Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 16, 102-108.

37. Prati, G. (2007). Fattori che promuovo il processo di crescita post- traumatica : una meta- analisi. Psicoterapia Cognitiva e Comportamentale,13,13-35.

38. Prati, G., Pietrantoni, L. (2012). Crescita post- traumatica: un’opportunità dopo il trauma? Psicoterapia Cognitiva e Comportamentale, 12, 133-144.

39. Ridenour, N. (1952). Bowlby's "Maternal care and mental health". Mental Hygiene Journal, 36, 639-647.

40. Rozenfeld, A., Granieri, A. (2014) (a cura di) . La resilienza: una posizione soggettiva di fronte alle avversità. Genova: Fratelli Frilli Editore.

41. Rutter, M. (1987). Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57, 316-331

42. Schaefer, J. A., & Moos, R. H. (1998). The context for posttraumatic growth: Life crises, individual and social resources, and coping. In R. G. Tedeschi, C. L. Park, & L. G. Calhoun (Eds.), The LEA series in personality and clinical psychology. Posttraumatic growth: Positive changes in the aftermath of crisis (pp. 99-125). Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

43. Soldà, S. (2012). Resilienza : trasformare gli eventi avversi in risorse. Tesi di specializzazione non pubblicata. Istituto Modenese di psicoterapia Sistemica e Relazionale.

44. Tedeschi, R.G., Calhoun, L.G. (2004). Posttraumatic growth: a new perspective on psychotraumatology . Psychiatric Times,21, 1-2.

45. Zautra, A. J., Hall, J. S., & Murray, K. E. (2010). Resilience: A new definition of health for people and communities. In J. W. Reich, A. J. Zautra, & J. S. Hall (Eds.), Handbook of adult resilience, 3- 29.

46. La valutazione del coping (2013).



  • There are currently no refbacks.