resiliency and the story of the world

Unusual reading material of the day: a draft version of the Public Health Training Network manual, Surviving Field Stress for First Responders. (sizeable pdf) This came across a local ham radio mailing list for disaster assistance, and now that I'm a 'Zone Captain' for our local emergency preparedness group, I figured I'd better take a look.

Amongst all the useful, practical advice, much of which was new to me as I have no First Responder training, I found two very powerful ideas there that made me glad I took the time.

1) Resiliency can be learned as an adult; part of the definition of resiliency, or perhaps merely the outward sign of it, is that one asks for assistance when overwhelmed in a domain. Needing help but being unable to ask for it creates a feeling of fear and vulnerability. There is extensive work on resiliency training in 'troubled' or 'at-risk' youth, but not much out there for adults. One sidebar cited 7 components of adult resilience: Insight, Independence, Relationships, Insight, Creativity, Humor, and Morality.

2) The concept of Narrative Therapy, or rebuilding a mental model of the world through verbalization. I know a number of people who do this after a stressful situation, and now that I know what they are doing (whether they are conscious of it or not), I know how to be supportive rather than annoyed. The Celtic legend of Merlin as the Wild Man of the Woods was cited as the earliest known example of using narrative therapy-- Merlin spent many years as a hermit after a disastrous battle, and no attempts to heal him were successful until the bard Taleisin came to him and retold to him the story of the creation of the world.


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