Concept of Resilience and Stress
Whole Task Objectives Follow-up
The objective is the learning intent of this session: Define the concept of resilience
You read this objective and participated in the associated activities that followed.
Now, you want to attempt to relate this objective to the broader concept presented by
the Whole Task Objective(s). The whole task objectives typically span three sessions
with each of the three sessions contributing to your overall understanding of the
whole task objectives. Much of your learning in higher education will require that you
transfer a concept or learning from one course to another. Get in the habit of thinking
about the “big picture” of how your current learning might be used in other classes or
even over the course of your lifelong learning.
How might resilience and stress relate to you wanting to increase reading
comprehension and learning?
How do resilience and stress relate to your understanding of measurement and
Tools become the chunks of learning that you can use as resources when dealing with
situations requiring resiliency. Consider developing a toolbox of 3×5 inch index cards
with the tool name and a definition, in your own words, on each card. These cards can
serve as quick source of information when you are reviewing or searching for a
resiliency solution. Your tool from this learning: Resilience
Identify common issues related to returning veterans and their families.
Veterans are returning to civilian life and college campuses. Many of them will suffer
from PTSD, which is an extreme stress “disorder.” One of the major symptoms of
PTSD is problems with memory and concentration, which can be caused by
hyperarousal, a state of increased psychological and physiological stress, and
hypervigilance, a state of abnormally increased responsiveness to stressful situations
and potential threats. Families must learn and cope to these changes. Research argues
military families go through “predicable” stages of readjustment to having their
veteran return home” (Cantrell & Dean, 2005; Slone & Freidman, 2008).
As previously examined, the first stage of general adaptation syndrome is the alarm
stage. People with PTSD experience the symptoms associated with this stage
throughout their daily lives.
Do you feel that you have an understanding how some of your attitudes towards
yourself, other people and the world impact your adjustment to school? Rate your
understanding from 0 to 100, 0 being no understanding, and 100 being complete
When civilians or students think about combat veterans, what do you think comes to
How comfortable do you think they feel with a combat veteran in the class? Rate their
comfort from 0 to 100, 0 being not comfortable, and 100 being completely
What is your reaction to their perception of combat veteran?
When you think of civilians, what thoughts come to mind?
How comfortable do you feel with civilians in your class? Rate your comfort from 0 to
100, 0 being not comfortable, and 100 being completely comfortable.
When you think of a “typical college professor”, what thoughts come to mind?
How comfortable do you think they would they feel with a combat veteran in the
class? Rate perceived comfort from 0 to 100, 0 being not comfortable, and 100 being
What is your reaction to their perception of combat veteran?
Combat veterans with PTSD are sometimes characterized as victims — sick, damaged,
or mentally ill. A more constructive view, however, identifies these veterans as
survivors faced with challenges associated with reintegration into civilian society and
other sources of stress in their environments. PTSD results when normal people are
subjected to abnormally high levels of stress over prolonged periods of time. These
individuals find reintegration difficult because they not only remember stressful
combat events, but relive them, both psychologically and physiologically. While
individuals with PTSD-related hypervigilance may seek to avoid environmental
stimuli that might increase their levels of stress, simple triggers in the environment
often lead hyperarousal and the re-experiencing of stressful combat events. This, in
turn, can further increase arousal, creating a PTSD loop.
Using Think-Aloud Pair Problem Solving (TAPPS), groups of two will identify an issue
related to returning veterans and consider the possible effects of that issue on
returning veterans and others.
Case Study. The patients in the Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) of a state hospital for
the profoundly developmentally disabled were extremely self-injurious — biting
themselves, hitting themselves, banging their heads against walls, tables, etc. When
patients came to the unit, few if any could dress or feed themselves, talk, or were toilet
trained. The goal of the ITU was to reduce their self-injurious behavior and then teach
them self-help skills and effective communication. How would the staff treat these
If a child would not engage in self-harm for five seconds, staff would reward the child
with a sweet or whatever was reinforcing to them. For example, a hydrocephalitic boy,
liked to pop balloons, so a supply was always available. But, if a child engaged in self-
injurious behavior he or she would be shocked with a cattle prod. While this may
sound cruel and inhumane, the alternative was far worse — watch a child repeatedly
contuse and lacerate their head on the corner of a table. Typically staff only had to
shock a few times. And, in combination with the rewards, staff were able to teach the
children to dress themselves, feed themselves, and begin to teach them to identify
their wants and needs.
There was, however, one little girl, we will call Katie, who would not stop hitting her
head. The staff worked with Katie, shocking her, and hoping for an opportunity to
reward her, but to no avail. Ultimately, guilt ridden and exhausted the staff put Katie
in restraints due to the severity of her self-harming behavior. Why was Katie
continuing to beat her head against the wall, despite being shocked?”
Simple behaviorism says if a behavior is followed by a reward the behavior will
increase and be maintained:
If a behavior is followed by a punisher the behavior will decrease:
But, what happens if a behavior is followed by a small reward (r) and a large punisher
(P). Does the behavior increase/maintain or decrease?
It will increase or maintain the behavior. What the staff discovered was that that the
brief interaction with Katie and telling her to “Stop” (r) was sufficient reward for her to
tolerate the shock (P). To terminate this undesirable behavior, the staff took an
extension cord, taped one end to the cattle prod, and the other to her leg. When the
staff heard the sound of Katie hitting her head, they administered a shock but without
saying a word to her. In a matter of minutes she had slowed down sufficiently that the
staff were able to reward Katie with her favorite vanilla ice cream. In time, the staff
were able to teach her all the life skills taught to the other children.
There are many of examples in “real life” of this phenomenon; most addictions are an
illustration of this behavior. So, what does this have to do with PTSD? Again, look at
the circle of PTSD symptoms. If you avoid thinking about the war, or avoid being
around people, or avoid the things that make you anxious, you get the (r), not a big
(R). Of course, the (P) is you don’t have a life because you are isolated. Thus, when
you “begin to get close” to someone, becoming angry and pushing them away can be
an (r), but the big (P) is that you are alone.
Before we can change an attitude or a behavior we must first come to understand
what the reward is that maintains the behavior. Too often people will focus on the
negative consequences (P) without realizing that there is some “pay-off”. Lacking an
appreciation of this model leads people to thinking of themselves and/or others as
Consider the following scenario. If you hate heights and are standing on the rim of the
Grand Canyon, the one sure way to make your fear go away is go back to the car. But,
returning to the car also reinforces the fear of heights. One way of addressing this
scenario is through a treatment of “prolonged exposure” (Olasov-Rothbaum, Foa &
Using Think-Aloud Pair Problem Solving (TAPPS), groups of two will identify an issue,
such as PTSD, related to returning veterans and consider the possible effects on the
veteran and others.
Why use TAPPS? TAPPS is a collaborative problem solving process where individuals
work in pairs; the “problem solver” talks through an problem or challenge, and the
“listener” asks questions relative to the problem solver’s thought process and the
clarity and thoroughness of the ideas. TAPPS aids in the development of analytical
reasoning skills, encourages social interaction, allows rehearsal of ideas, and fosters
Read a selection:
Tanielian, T., & Jaycox, L. H. (Eds.). (2008). Invisible wounds of war: Summary and
Recommendations for Addressing Psychological and Cognitive Injuries. Retrieved June
3, 2009, from Rand Corporation Web site:
Tanielian, T., & Jaycox, L. H. (Eds.). (2008). Post-Deployment Stress: What Families
Should Know, What Families Can Do. Retrieved June 3, 2009, from Rand Corporation
Comment in 200 to 400 words. Based on your reading, how has your understanding
Do you feel that you have a better understanding of the adjustment problems many
combat veteran families face returning to school? Rate the improvement of your
understanding from 0 to 100, 0 being no improvement, and 100 being the greatest