‘Inoculated in pain’: examining resilience in refugee children in an attempt to elicit possible underlying psychological and ecological drivers of migration

Author(s): Pallab MAJUMDER



Despite the prolonged and extreme environmental adversities and psychological trauma experienced by unaccompanied young refugees during their odyssey through the geographically and politically treacherous landscape, they have sometimes shown extraordinary psychological resilience, ability to function and recover from such ordeals. However, other than the anecdotal tales of their survival, there has not been much systematic scientific effort to explore this intriguing subject. In this paper, I endeavour to explore the links and underlying dynamics between resilience and migration. A total of 15 unaccompanied young persons and their carers were interviewed using a semi-structured schedule to elicit their perceptions and beliefs of the mental health care they received. The interview transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis to elicit several themes and sub-themes of findings, which were developed into possible theories to answer the research question. Some psychological traits and environmental factors may be important in the development of resilience to trauma and adversity. Faith in God, optimism, exposure to adversity and ability to grow up prematurely were found to be linked with their increased resilience. It is possible that these may have some universal implication in the human history of migration in general. Findings may help establish initial theories and stimulate interest to further explore this area.

Tags: Youth, Children, Resilience, Trauma, Religion, Hope

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