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Rosenman, S. Handelsman, I. (1992). Rising from the Ashes: Modeling Resiliency in a Community Devastated by Man-Made Catastrophe. Am. Imago, 49(2):185-226.

(1992). American Imago, 49(2):185-226

Rising from the Ashes: Modeling Resiliency in a Community Devastated by Man-Made Catastrophe

Stanley Rosenman and Irving Handelsman

The Dispirited Community After Severe Catastrophe

Introduction: Recent community catastrophes in Africa, Iraq, and Bangledesh supply stark reminders of the challenges in reweaving the social, economic, and physical fabrics of a stricken community. In the wake of the disaster, the community, to the extent it can rally, attends the immediate needs of its people for food, water, and healing the injured. In addition, when geographically contiguous, it reestablishes the infrastructure of housing, roads, electricity, sewage disposal. Persons occupying important roles who were lost are replaced. Responses to emergencies are reevaluated.

Regardless of whether a community is contiguous, a key component of its recovery, especially when the catastrophe was man-made, is restoration of the populace's morale. That an enemy group inflicted the blow gives a special spin to such issues as fury at the assaulters and survivor guilt. Often there is intertwining of mortification, contrition, and disillusionment about self-centered conduct, passivity, and ineffectuality during the calamity. The traumatized group member obsesses over decisions made before and during the calamity by one's group, significant persons, and self that seemingly invited or exacerbated the disaster's impact.

To foster anew the group's esprit de corps, to help it rediscover its soul, occupants of particular roles may be employed as guides and paragons. They assist members to regain self-confidence and dedication to the group. In addition to yearning for leadership, crushed individuals often show an intensified dependence on objects that may be introjected or on a dual unity with an admired person.

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