Resilience and Ageing
Boris Cyrulnik is a neuropsychiatrist and director of studies at the University of Toulon-Sud-Var. He is the uncontested expert on psychological resilience. All his books have been immensely successful: Les Vilains Petits Canards, Les Nourritures affectives, Un merveilleux malheur, Mourir de dire, Sauve-toi la vie t’appelle.
Louis Ploton is a psychiatrist and a professor emeritus of gerontology at Lyon-II University, with a research interest in Alzheimer’s disease. He is the founder of the Francophone Association for the Rights of the Aged.
For many people, ageing means loss (of memory, vitality, muscle tone, etc.). And yet, the anthropologist Germaine Tillon, a member of the French Resistance and a concentration camp survivor, worked until her death, at the age of 104. After surviving so much horror, she decided to enjoy life and was surrounded, till the end, by a group of friends who offered mutual aid and cheer.
When left on their own, many old people see the future as a boundless void. But when they are surrounded and energised by a circle of friends and family, they are capable of delving into the past and of recounting and sharing their past experiences. By doing this, they create two known factors of resilience, which are essential in old age: an affective bond, which gives a feeling of security, and the sense that life has meaning, through the restructuring of the experience of past events.
What if the secret of ageing well were to learn renouncement and optimisation? Renouncing, with a smile, to take part in the Olympic Games but learning to optimise the strengths acquired through a lifetime? Perhaps to age well we must learn to give meaning to the inevitable trials that marked our lives and to wish to share the lessons we learned with younger people?
• The concept of resilience applied to the elderly.
• A scientific evaluation of all the factors that favour or limit resilience among the elderly.
• The fifth book in a series on resilience (Resilience and the Family, Resilience and Psychoanalysis, etc.).