Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 56–74 | Cite as

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

  • Ariel YankellevichEmail author
  • Yehuda C. Goodman
Original Paper


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 



This study was funded by the Shaine Center, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Authors Ariel Yankellevich and Yehuda C. Goodman declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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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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