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Resilience and Mental Health: Challenges Across the Lifespan

Ruiz, Pedro MD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: August 2012 - Volume 200 - Issue 8 - p 734
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3182614252
Book Reviews

Professor and Executive Vice Chair Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, FL, and President World Psychiatric Association Geneva, Switzerland

When we received this book for review by the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, I decided to review it myself. My decision, in this regard, was not made without reflection; on the contrary, the concept of “resilience” called my attention at least 3 decades ago and has always intrigued me professionally; besides, the set of editors of this book is an outstanding group of professionals and scholars who have a well-established reputation in the field of psychiatry and mental health. Within the context of my own career, the concept of resilience plays a major role in culture and psychosocial trauma and is commonly perceived in poor and disadvantaged communities; thus, I began to read this book with high interest and expectation, hoping to find new perspectives and knowledge within the scope of resilience. I was not at all disappointed; this book has further expanded my horizons on the topic and has helped me to better understand certain factors related to resilience that were not well known to me. The book itself is divided into five sections, and the book editors covered four of them.

The first section focuses on “pathways to resilience” and is led by Brett T. Litz. This section is composed of six chapters, and each addresses an important component within the context of resilience; these are the neurobiological conceptualization of resilience, the relationship between stress and emotional regulation, cognitive factors used to cope with traumas and adversities, the role of personality factors vis-à-vis traumatic stress, the influence of social ties when dealing with chronic illnesses, and the role of religious and spiritual factors with respect to resilience.

The second section is led by Dennis Charney and addresses resilience across the life span. This section has three chapters, and these cover resilience among children and adolescents, when facing traumas, and among older adults.

The third section is led by Fran H. Norris and deals with the impact of resilience in families, communities, and societies at large. It is composed of three chapters, and these cover family collaboration; methods and rationale for community intervention; and, finally, the interrelationship between trauma, culture, and resilience.

The fourth section is organized by Matthew J. Friedman and includes seven chapters. These discuss resilience within the scope of loss and grief, reorienting resilience for postdisaster research purposes, rape and other types of sexual assaults, a military model, terrorism, poverty, and dealing with persons with serious mental illness.

Finally, the fifth section is led by Steven M. Southwick. He discusses resilience-related constructs in adults, in childhood, in the military, and within public health practice, which includes worker protection strategies.

Undoubtedly, this book is a must read, particularly for professionals like me who address in their practices and models of intervention issues such as stress, coping mechanisms, dealing with adversities, traumatic situations, the role of chronic illness, religious and spiritual factors, different age group traumas, family involvement, community-based interventions, culture-bound interventions, sexual assaults, the role of poverty, persons with chronic mental illness, outcomes of wars and disasters, disabilities, discrimination handicaps, and the like.

I very much enjoyed reading this book; it was certainly very useful to me, and I highly recommend it to psychiatrists and other types of mental health professionals who are involved in community-based interventions and to population groups or individual patients who have been exposed to or have experienced traumas across their life span.

Pedro Ruiz, MD

Professor and Executive Vice Chair

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral

Sciences, University of Miami Miller

School of Medicine, FL, and President

World Psychiatric Association

Geneva, Switzerland

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.