Complex nature of processes

Now that we have reviewed the three primary components of a resilience framework, we can move on to the second learning objective: To explain the complex nature of processes through which resilience might or might not occur over time. We will work toward this objective by analyzing a documentary film.

The film is called Big Mama, and it won an Academy Award for best documentary in 2000. It features the story of a Viola, an 89-year-old woman raising Walter, her 9-year-old grandson in Los Angeles.

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To watch the film, please visit – you will need to be logged into the library with your NetID in order to access the video.

Respond to the discussion questions below by formulating a thoughtful paragraph to each question. You can post these paragraphs all in one response. If your ideas are similar to those of a classmate, make sure to acknowledge this similarity and expand on the initial idea in a constructive way.

Identify one risk factor or one protective factor that changed throughout the film for either Walter or Viola. For example, can you identify something that was initially a protective factor that now has become a risk factor? What new risk factors emerged? Within your discussion, incorporate a point from chapters 3, 9, and 10 of the Hutchison (2019) text, and/or the assigned reading by MacLeod (2016), and make sure to fully develop your analysis.

Consider the film from time-stamp 16:05 to 21:27, considering the role of the staff at the psychiatric hospital as well as Viola’s daughter and the extended family (informal sources of support). What role do they plan in processes of resilience for Walter and/or Viola? How does your answer depend on which domains of Walter’s and/or Viola’s functioning you are considering?

Taken as a whole, how does this family’s experience—as portrayed by the film—demonstrate ways in which various aspects of complex person-environment systems contribute to risk and resilience (considering, for example, psychological factors, biological factors, micro-social factors, meso-social factors, and macro-social factors)? How does this analysis challenge us to avoid all-or-nothing judgments of individuals or families being resilient or not?

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