This paper questions George Bonanno’s concept of resilience as “relatively stable, healthy levels of psychological and physiological functioning” (Bonanno in Am Psychol 59(1):20–28, 2004) following potentially traumatic events (PTE). It agrees with Bonanno’s claim that significant numbers of people may suffer from mental disorders following a PTE, but disagrees that the majority of people are resilient. Furthermore it argues that we should not see PTEs as one event, but as involving a number of stressors and having a variety of consequences. Drawing on fieldwork carried out in Rajni village, Bihar following the 2008 Kosi River flooding, it documents, 18 months post flood, that flood onset gave rise to symptoms related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (primarily re-experiencing). The villagers’ primary concern was livelihood loss which, together with their lack of hope for the future, led to symptoms of depression. It argues that mental health issues should be fully integrated into Disaster Risk Reduction plans and policies, which are likely to be included in the Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals. In addition to supporting mental health interventions, the paper suggests that deep socio-cultural changes are necessary to ensure improvements in mental health.
Social Indicators Research, 2013, Vol 113, Issue 2, p. 711-728