"If you look at people who have been through horrific things, by and large, they get over it….The idea that we are…pretty resilient seems to have been forgotten."

Tana Dineen Ph.D.
Psychologist and author
Manufacturing Victims


Resilience is one of our greatest weapons in times such as these. Indeed, as psychiatrist Dr. Sydney Walker III wrote, "not every unpleasant thought or emotion we experience is a 'disorder' that must immediately be treated with medication and psychotherapy. Some negative emotions (stress reactions among them) are hard wired into us biologically, and for very good reason: they enhance our survival. The anxiety and fear we experience following a trauma are, in effect, nature's way of telling us to take all possible measures to avoid similar traumas in the future. The sense of numbness and the depersonalization that often occur during or shortly after a trauma are most likely the body's way of allowing us to put our emotions on hold until it's safe to sort them out. These reactions may not be fun, but they're not pathological."29

Others agree:

As reported in the Los Angeles Times on October 7, more than two-thirds of trauma victims studied said that they had benefited from the trauma in some way, according to Richard Tedeschi, a clinical psychologist from the University of North Carolina.30

In a study of Vietnam-era prisoners of war, nearly two-thirds said they were more content, stronger and wiser than they were before their capitivity.31

In a 1999 study on air crash survivors, researchers Gary Capobianco, M.A. and Thanos Patelis, Ph.D. found that among the survivors who did not want or need counseling immediately following the crash, many appeared to be the least troubled by the crash experience and reported the least amount of distress among the survivors.32

A 1993 study on shipwreck survivors had similar conclusions. The wreck survivors, after a period time, reported strong positive changes in their outlook on life, greater self-esteem and most importantly, lower scores on measures of post-traumatic stress.33

Tana Dineen Ph.D. says, "If you look at people who have been through horrific things, by and large, they get over it…. The idea that we are…pretty resilient seems to have been forgotten."34

Dr. Alex Hossach, Consultant Clinical psychologist with St. Helens Trust in the United Kingdom, states, "Sometimes, a caring family member can help the individual by simply listening to their problems."35

Or as psychiatrist Dr. Sally Satel, says: "Are our priests and rabbis not up to the task? Are our families' instincts to comfort not keen enough?"36

Dr. Satel warned against "sensationalizing mental health professionals" spreading gloom and doom about the American people's seeming lack of resilience, stating, "What we need—and thankfully seem to have—is a morally galvanized and focused citizenry, not a population turned inward on its alleged psychological fragility."37

Stress is a lucrative business for the mental health industry. Post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, was not included in the American Psychiatric Association's "billing bible," The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) until 1980 and has now expanded its criteria from a few symptoms to more than 170.

Dr. Walker also stated, "Most reactions to stressful events are normal and in fact beneficial, not pathological….Psychiatrists merely complicate [this] by assigning a DSM label and prescribing harmful and potentially addictive drugs—an all too common occurrence."38