Are People Resilient…Or Desensitized To Violence?

Living in Aurora, CO, I was unnerved when our city was swarming with press after the Century 16 mass murder. I also unnerved when someone told me we’d be out of the news and off people’s minds in no time. This is exactly what happened.

You can read this and say that people no longer react to things like this because they’ve built an immunity, but I’m not sure that’s it. Consider this from Laurence Gonzales’ book Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience:

“It turns out that many of the beliefs about this subject that psychotherapists have long held sacred are simply not true. For example, when the World Trade Center was attacked, the Federal Emergency Management Agency spent $155 million to make psychological counseling available to anyone who wanted it. The experts thought a quarter of a million people would seek help for the unimaginable grief over lost loved ones or for debilitating anxiety as a reaction the the horror they’d witnessed. Just 300 people showed up…”

The author states that while most people will experience trauma, the majority of them are able to go on with their lives. This is important to realize.

With Uranus squaring Pluto, we see things degrading  all around us. You glean no benefit by denigrating yourself for being resilient. Why not cultivate the ability to move on, which appears to be embedded in most of us anyway?

This attitude comes through in my consulting work. Rather than create a dependency with my clients, I try to delineate the problem and outline a solution in one session. From there, the person need only follow through and they’re very likely to get a good result.

Are you resilient?

26 thoughts on “Are People Resilient…Or Desensitized To Violence?”

  1. Re: creating dependency.

    I have a lot to say about this, as an Aries moon.

    I’ve benefited from therapy, but there are a LOT of therapists out there who create dependencies. I remember one told me that this other client of his had been seeing him for 30 YEARS.

    I don’t know what he thought that would make me feel, but I was horrified. It was the beginning of the end, for that relationship.

  2. There is a lot of research out there on the resilience of children, in particular, and that has been my experience. I have taught more than a thousand children, and have my own kids, and find that they generally live in the present. A friend was talking about how really violent movies can warp children(and I don’t like them myself), and I pointed out that my boys watch really violent movies, and wouldn’t hurt a fly, as the friend knows. What desensitizes children is not having fathers, in my experience.

  3. Yes. I’ve told the story before but when I was 21 I was physically assaulted, viciously too. I was rattled for a couple of days (as a person would be when they get their head stomped) and then this feeling took over–bad things happen randomly all the time, and so it happened to me. My brain somehow focussed on the fact it was random and I have never wondered ‘why me.’ I haven’t even looked at the astrology of the day. It hasn’t been important to me.

    I think it’s very easy to take certain things personally and I was determined to not take it personally.

  4. I am resilient. But, I don’t see this as a type of resiliency. Yes, you are physically moving on but the events still have an emotional toll that needs to be dealt with. Everyone’s doing fine now *yawn* another news story, time to go to work. But, eventually it will catch up and leak out in different ways. Move on. Yes. Ignore the emotional impact of it..not a good idea.
    True resiliency lies in the ability to cope with both..not ignore one to pacify the other.

  5. I think sometimes we fool ourselves into believing we are more resilient than we are.For example this past November I was in a theater and this person was standing in the Exit door with it propped open on her cell phone and looking around.To me this was suspicious and frightening behavior.All I could think was uh-uh not on my watch with my kid’s here.I felt the need to protect even if that made me look paranoid to others.I got up and went over to the girl and realized she was a mindless teenager.I asked her what she was doing and it spooked her..she ran off outside of the Exit door.Minutes later her Big burly Father calls me out in anger in front of the entire theater(this was Thanksgiving Day BTW). I remind him of the CO. shooting and that his daughter should be more mindful.He was very angry as if I should have just gotten over it already was his attitude.This experience really made me wonder what the hell was wrong with people.But sadly,we are desensitized.Balance is something to strive for here.

  6. Big time! I have been through a lot of stuff by my own doing and not doing. Well maybe I’m exaggerating but almost 8 car crashes in 8 yrs, a short incarceration w/ abusive environment and guards, many episodes of my mental health breakdowns which led me back to 12th house matters (rehabilitation clinics, supposedly), etc etc.. some of this is embarrassing well those two biggies are embarrassing. But anyway I did move on. Anyway I am not even successful thanks to my illness and financial instability but I still tread on so to speak. I am working on getting an invention protected, it is now but i need it for long term. So its a process. I finished my business plan. I am going to a junior college. Got accepted into a music school that’s competitive, applying for scholarships, and will apply for a very competitive school hoping for the best. So I am getting back on my feet. I am a talented guitarist who needs to practice on theory/technique more. So as you can see yes I am resilient I bounce back. What’s interesting to note is that I have Pluto trine most if not all of my inner planets and sextile others. It never makes a harsh aspect not even conjunction. I have Sun trine Pluto so I can definitely bounce back. But having Pluto at a critical degree of 29 degrees I am always going this stuff.

  7. I’m going to use a metaphor here because I feel it is fitting.

    When an object enters the body, it hurts like hell at first. And will for awhile. And if it is unable to be retrieved for whatever reason, the body has an inborn ability to calcify it over time thus isolating it from creating further damage to its internal organs. Over time, we no longer feel the wound in question. It has just become part of us.

    Emotional scars are much the same way. The brain has an ability to compartmentalize and store trauma.

    So are we more resilient for that reason? Yes. I think the “calcification” of emotional wounds are a mechanism that prevents from feeling further “immediate” pain. However, we need to be conscious of it -otherwise, we may become desensitized. I hope to never be. But as a matter of survival, I think that is something that lies in us all. Unfortunately. 🙁

    Too much stress shuts down the immune system. The body knows this being the intelligent organism it is. 😀

  8. Agreed that resilience doesn’t mean we have “gotten over” a traumatic personal experience. It means we can continue to function while we find a way of dealing with that experience.

  9. You know this makes me think about where I grew up. I’m from Baltimore…the very area of Baltimore that was made famous in the HBO series the Wire and I hate to admit this but on some level growing up I think I did become “numb” if you will to violence. I actually recall walking out in the street to avoid fresh blood on the pavement from last evening’s shootout…it was disturbing nonetheless…but you gotta keep moving on and that’s what I did. I will not tell you that being surrounded by that on a daily basis did not affect me…it did, but what really can you do but keep moving on.

    I am resilient cause I realized there was nothing that I could do at that time, but I told myself once I turn 18 I’m outta here…and so for me I guess the ability to see and feel trauma had to be pushed aside for the sake of surviving, making it or just getting through.

    Once I was able to remove myself from that type of environment I did spend a significant amount of time just processing everything. I’m not gonna lie once I was able to get away from all the traumatic stuff my reflexes were still on 100. I lived in the suburbs surrounded by peace and quiet but would jump when I saw a rabbit running through the yard…kinda sad…but hey its part of the process.

    I’ll tell you what, if anything it really taught me that a change of environment definitely gives you fresh perspective…but you still gotta deal with your stuff…it aint going no where.

  10. I think people find it easy to ignore it or become desensitized until it happens to them or someone they know. THEN it hits home.

  11. Things hurt me so badly I have to shut them out or I wouldn’t be able to function. I am not sure I am resilient. I have just had to wall up to be able to go on. I was at work the day of the Sandy Hook shootings. I heard it on the radio and everything stopped. I was frozen, sick to my stomach and calling around to see if anyone could see the news. Then heartbroken. This bothered me badly and I still can’t hardly read about it or watch it on the news. As a mother I can’t comprehend it. I can’t put myself in the parents shoes and try to imagine their pain because its so painful for me to do this I have to shut it off…as if it never happened.

    I take in things such as these and they crack my heart wide open. Then its days before I can think straight. 911… I will still cry about it I am drawn into a discussion about it.

    The stress if these types of things destroy my immune system. When my youngest son was behaving badly as a teen…doing every risky behavior, my hair fell out in clumps from worry. This went on for 5 years. Midway I was about 50% bald. This is a fact. So…. I am not resilient and I have to work very hard to walk around tragic events. I am sure part of this is due to my birth chart and the rest is my childhood.

  12. again everyone having great comments and experiences to share
    just curious if all who think they are resilient,
    are you under 40?

  13. I try to be. I think I am. But the trauma or incidents come up again like a Sea Monster or imbed themselves in my body creating pain or physical symptoms that re-occur when I least expect it. I have been to many therapists. None are able to go deep enough to unearth the issues. So I stop going. Nope, not dependent. I work on stuff myself as it comes up, fully knowing that it will show up again. Maybe in a different form. But it will arrive. But in the meantime, I go back up and remain resilient.

  14. beachfrontbabe:

    “I think people find it easy to ignore it or become desensitized until it happens to them or someone they know. THEN it hits home.”



  15. i dont think age has anything to do with being resilient all these things test us,teach us and hopefully connect us all maybe not the place or time
    all life alters us (i am a mess but you know that is just fear talking)

  16. i need to better understand what y’all are speaking of before i jump in like understanding the meanings of topics but i like the jumps because it helps not be shy. but back to resilient i actually look up word meanings :people are best at finding their resilience> they can solve problems, have strong family ties, positive views, help others, seeks help and resources these things will give you coping tools for all kinds of life’s problems one area i was navigated to took me to a mental health page through a pbs title “emotional life” now they must be wrong but there are no mentalhealth organizations within a 100 miles of me? a mistake or not?

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