Health and Wellness

Hope, Healing and WellBeing

Mary Treacy O'Keefe

Hope, Healing and WellBeing – Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges with Dr. Steven Southwick

Dr. Steven Southwick is a recognized expert on the psychological and neurobiological effects of extreme psychological trauma. As the co-author of Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges, Dr. Southwick begins by defining resilience as “the ability to bend but not break, to bounce back after adversity and to continue to grown in your life.” Many factors determine how resilient we are. His research, done with co-author Dennis Charney, was based on interviews with highly resilient individuals, especially those in the military and others who had traumatic experiences. They found 10 factors that were present in these individuals. His book contains the stories of resilient people, along with the research to support the stories. Host Mary Treacy O’Keefe and he discuss some of these factors, focusing on optimism, including “blind optimism,” “realistic optimism” and “Tragic optimism.” There is a strong connection between optimism and finding meaning in our experiences. For example, some people find a way to reframe what has happened despite never getting over the loss itself

Becoming resilient is not a rapid or easy process for those who have suffered great loss. Dr. Southwick discusses how we can become more optimistic and change our reactions to difficult circumstances. Suggestions include finding resilient role models and watch what they do during times of stress, get physical exercise and obtain support from others. Religion and spirituality also can be very helpful because both can offer social support, opportunities for altruism and other benefits. For more information, please visit