, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 11-36

The Strengths Perspective: Fortigenesis in Adult Life

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Abstract

“Fortigenesis” (L. fortis=strong) refers to a process of developing strengths at a variety of endpoints. Assumptions are: (i) there exist 2 continua, of mental illness and mental health, along which waxing and waning in the process of fortigenesis moves individuals in the directions of more or less strength; (ii) challenge, struggling and suffering, due to inordinate demands, are inherent to the human condition; (iii) there are strengths to negotiate and resile these demands, and even to harness them towards subsequent flourishing; and (iv) there are also purely positive experiences. The background to a “science of strength” is presented briefly. Subjective well-being, questing for meaning, thriving/flourishing, and interpersonal flourishing, are reviewed as illustrative themes. The review is limited to English language and Occidental literature, and to matters mainly apparent in individual adult lives.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Josua P.P. Fullard (d. June 30, 2001) who passed the highest test in living magna summa cum laude. Jan Esser, Griffiths Lubisi, Malan Heyns, Aharon Segal, Nic van der Walt (d. May 31, 2005), Bodley van der Westhuysen, an anonymous reviewer, and the Editor of this issue: I thank you all for comments on earlier drafts.