“Our history does not determine our destiny,” stated Boris Cyrulnik, author of Resilience: How Your Inner Strength Can Set You Free From the Past. Resilience can come from many places in a person, but when looking at the nature versus nurture perspective, it is nature that most strongly determines how resilient a person will be, and not based quite as much upon how they were nurtured. As Cyrulnik said, it is not our history, in other words, not how we’ve been previously nurtured, that determines what we will become, or how resilient we will be in times of trial.
Before discussing the idea of how nature applies to the idea of resilience, it is important to first understand what resilience is. Cyrulnik defined this word as such: “The ability to succeed, to live in a positive and socially acceptable way, despite the stress or adversity that would normally involve the real possibility of a negative outcome. ” (Cyrulnik, 1999. ) this means that when a person goes through a hardship in their life, they continue to live normally instead of allowing it to affect their lives in a bad way.
One important point that the textbook Invitation to Lifespan Psychology brought up was that “adversity must be significant” in order for a person to be considered resilient. (Berger, 2010. ) therefore, when discussing resilience, the problem that a person has to overcome must be major/life-changing for it to be considered resilience when it is overcome. While nurture may have an impact on how resilient a person can be, it is their nature that truly determines this. Cyrulnik gave an example of how two hundred children were at “serious parental and social risk. ” (Cyrulnik, 1999. Out of those 200 children, 130 of them had serious mental and emotion issues in their lives decades later. However, that left 70 children that went on to lead completely normal lives.
If this were to be looked at from the perspective of nurture being the key role in how resilient a child will be, it hardly makes sense. All 200 of these kids were in the same abusive type lifestyles; they were all nurtured the same. If it were nurture that determined how resilient a child will be, then it should have been closer to 200 kids that ended up being greatly negatively impacted later in life. 5% of the kids went on to lead normal lives. They were not nurtured to do so. It was in their very nature to continue to lead a positively normal life, so how they were nurtured could not affect that. Studies have shown that the ability for a child to make friends and learn new things can impact how resilient a child is.
Berger stated in Invitation to Lifespan Psychology: “Another key aspect of resilience is whether or not a stressed child can develop friends, activities, and skills. (Berger, 2010. ) The social skills of a person is strongly dependent on their genes. In a study covered by CNN, they stated: “People who have two “G” variants of this oxytocin receptor gene tend to have better social skills and higher self-esteem. ” (CNN, 2011 “Is empathy in our genes? ” Retrieved from http://www. cnn. com/2011/11/15/health/empathy-genes/index. html). This is important because, as Berger stated, the ability to make friends is a huge part of a child’s ability to become resilient.
As CNN suggested, social skills are genetic, which leads to the idea that the ability to be resilient is linked to a person’s nature, and the better their genes are regarding social skills, the better the chance they have to become resilient. Not only are social skills hugely a part of the nature of a person, the need to interact with other people is deeply rooted in human nature. Cyrulnik gave the example of Michel, who spent three weeks in a camp during WWII after spending six months in hiding. (Cyrulnik, 1999.
One might assume that a child would become very unhappy and depressed in a war camp, but Michel became thrilled, and felt as if he were at a party. This is because he had very little human interaction while he was in hiding, and he was finally able to interact with people when he was sent to the camp. He was resilient after his time in camp, able to move on with his life and not allow what happened to him to have a negative influence over his life. It was his human nature of needed contact with people and interaction that changed his whole perspective on his ordeal.
He was nurtured well enough when in hiding, but he was miserable. It was his inborn nature that saved him because of the much-needed human interaction, which illustrated how it was his nature that was able to cause him to be resilient, and not the way that he was nurtured. Nurture will always impact people, but it is nature that impacts the lives and resilience of people the most. Cyrulnik describes multiple examples which help to illustrate this idea, such as the case of Michel. Resilience is what keeps people together when they have an intense struggle. Nature impacts the strength of that resilience.
Courtney from Study Moose
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