Resilience as a multimodal dynamic process

Early Interv Psychiatry. 2019 Aug;13(4):725-732. doi: 10.1111/eip.12726. Epub 2018 Aug 20.


Aim: Resilience is rapidly gaining momentum in mental health literature. It provides a new understanding of the highly variable trajectories of mental illness, and has consistently been linked with improved mental health outcomes. The present review aims to clarify the definition of resilience and to discuss new directions for the field.

Methods: After discussing the definition of resilience, this narrative review synthesizes evidence that identifies the specific protective factors involved in this process. This review also addresses the mechanisms that underlie resilience.

Results: Recent literature has clarified the three core components of resilience, which are the presence of an adversity or specific risk for mental illness; the influence of protective factors that supersede this risk; and finally, a subsequently more positive outcome than expected. Now that these are largely agreed upon, the field should move on to addressing other topics. Resilience is a dynamic process by which individuals utilize protective factors and resources to their benefit. It can vary within one individual across time and circumstance. It can also refer to good functional outcomes in the context of diagnosable illness. While previous research has focused on psychological resilience, it is essential that resilience is conceptualized across modalities.

Conclusions: The field should move towards the development of a multimodal model of resilience. Researchers should now focus on producing empirical research which clarifies the specific protective factors and mechanisms of the process, aligning with the core concepts of resilience. This growing, more homogeneous evidence base, can then inform new intervention strategies.

Keywords: protective factors; psychiatric illness; psychopathology; resilience; risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Protective Factors
  • Resilience, Psychological*