Migrants and resilience: the art of navigating streams

Londa Hokusai PsyOnlus Blog

Psychoanalyst Cyrulnik Boris defines the Resilience like "the art of navigating streams", a difficult and demanding but not solitary navigation because it is related to the external environment.

In psychology, the Resilience it is configured as a process of mutation that allows hostilities to be transformed into opportunities for renewal and to structure alternative paths, avoiding or canceling those that have become impracticable and enemy. Resilience to adverse situations therefore depends on a cumulative and interactive combination of risk factors e protective factors genetic, personal and environmental.

The relationship between migration and resilience

In the case of the families of migrants these factors fall within frameworks of further complexity since their condition affects the protection factors while the risk factors increase.

Scientific literature identifies three orders of factors that affect resilience, which can contain both risk and protection factors for the mental health of children migrants:

  1. Individual characteristics

They depend on the solidity of the personality subject, by the ability to know how to build positive interpersonal relationships, by owning strategies adaptive coping, put in place for the purpose of managing, reducing or tolerating stress and conflict, by being gifted with a good one pre-migratory mental health and the solidity and flexibility ofcultural identity.

On the other hand, fragile personalities, who present deficient relational styles, of low cultural level and who have already experienced conditions of social exclusion before migration, they find themselves in conditions of greater difficulty, especially if there are pre-existing conditions of a psycho-pathological nature.

  1. Migration project

It is typically anchored to the motivational system of people and their ability to imagine and plan themselves in the future: key elements are the ability to make realistic plans e invest in your settlement capacity in the host country.

This aspect represents a risk factor for i forced migrants, who leave their country not on the basis of a motivation to create a life elsewhere, but driven by conditions that prevent them from continuing to live in their homeland. Often for refugees, expelled from the motherland, the choice of the port country is not the result of a conscious decision but of the randomness of the means used during the trip.

  1. Effective social support

It is configured as a condition of welcome able support the individual both in his emotional-relational and material needs, supporting him in the realization of his own migration project and favoring its social and psychological integration.

In this field they play an important role among the risk factors, together with the trauma suffered at home before departure, the Post-Migration Living Difficulties (PMLD: life difficulties in land of immigration), which represent an inadequate or manifestly hostile social reception condition.

Does reception affect resilience?

Doctors Without Borders in 2016 conducted a qualitative survey from which "a different typology of the current migrant emerged that often presents itself with an already compromised psychic substrate, with a reduced resilience capacity and in the absence of a clear migration project".

Today's society tends to enhance the asymmetries to produce separations: man seems fear the "different foreigner" perceived as a threat to that uniformity that gives security but requires separation and estrangement.

The link between sense of community andethnic identity on the contrary, it is decisive for the determination of well-being: when the migrant individual feels a strong sense of belonging, perceiving himself as accepted and useful, the sense that he attributes to his own ethnic identity takes on a positive value and becomes a prerequisite for the assumption of a resilient attitude.

Taking note of these changes is essential for arranging the appropriate reception measures.

Giulia Colasante


* Notes on the author:
Giulia Colasante is a psychoanalytic psychologist and psychotherapist.
He currently works as a psychotherapist by implementing diagnostic and clinical interventions aimed at adolescents and adults. He has decades of experience in the field of training, as a designer and coordinator of training interventions and complex projects in the psycho-social field. He has gained experience in the field of hospitality as a Psychologist and Coordinator of Extraordinary Hospitality Projects aimed at political refugees in Italy. Since 2013 he has been an ordinary member of Psy + Onlus: in addition to being part of the Design Area, he participated in the project aimed at the populations involved in the earthquake in central Italy.

migrants, psychology, immigration, Resilience, welcome, community

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