Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 56–74

“You can’t choose these emotions… they simply jump up”: Ambiguities in Resilience-Building Interventions in Israel

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11013-016-9504-9

Cite this article as:
Yankellevich, A. & Goodman, Y.C. Cult Med Psychiatry (2017) 41: 56. doi:10.1007/s11013-016-9504-9


Following the growing critique of the use of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in post-disaster interventions, a new type of intervention aimed at building resilience in the face of traumatic events has been making its first steps in the social field. Drawing on fieldwork of a resilience-building program for pre-clinical populations in Israel, we analyze the paradoxes and ambiguities entailed in three inter-related aspects of this therapeutic project: The proposed clinical ideology aimed at immunizing against traumas; the discursive and non-discursive practices used by the mental-health professionals; and, participants’ difficulties to inhabit the new resilient subject. These contradictions revolve around the injunction to rationally handle emotions in response to disruptive traumatic events. Hence, the attempt to separate between a sovereign rational subject and a post-traumatic subject is troubled in the face of experiences of trauma and social suffering. Furthermore, we demonstrate how these difficulties reconstitute unresolved tensions between mimetic and anti-mimetic tendencies that have been pervading the understanding of trauma in the therapeutic professions. Finally, we discuss how the construction of the resilient subject challenges the expanding bio-medical and neoliberal self-management paradigm in mental health.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Resilience Therapeutic interventions Self-management Israel 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Shaine Center, Sociology and Anthropology Department, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

    Copyright information

    © Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

    Authors and Affiliations

    1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer-ShevaIsrael
    2. 2.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyHebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael

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