Assessing Accounts of Personal Resilience


Task description Assessing Accounts of Personal Resilience. You are to read and critically analyse at least 2 personal published accounts of a response to an emergency situation. (e.g., Joe Simpson touching the void). These MUST be published accounts NOT the Learning Activity posts of fellow students. Identify how were those accounts similar? In what way were they different? Drawing on the readings as well as your own research of the literature on resilience, what were the factors that promoted and/or reduced resilience in these people during their response to this emergency?

Assessment criteria Demonstrate and apply knowledge of the principles of resilience from physiological and psychological perspectives to the accounts of a response to an emergency situation. Analyse and critically evaluate the different accounts and determine the factors that were shared and different in those accounts. Consider factors that both promoted and reduced resilience. Synthesise the key points in a summary and communicate this effectively within the essay.
Links to unit’s intended learning outcomes
Following this assessment task students will be able to understand and describe the physiological and psychology principles that underpin human responses to emergencies. Students will also be able to identify the factors that support individual resilience to emergencies.
Task length 1000 words
Date due
Assessment details*
Assessment task 1

Individual Resilience – Suggested Resources for Task 1

Title Link Abstract
9/11 – 102 Minutes That Changed America tps://
History Channel documentary containing raw footage from many people in and around Manhattan, New York City, during (and after)the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Footage includes FDNY firefighters, NYPD officers, PAPD officers, amateurs and emergency workers.
The Amazon Project 2012 (5 mins) (Summary of Davey du Plessis’ planned trip)

Choosing to Live – Davey du Plessis (Live) (35 mins)

Against All Odds: A journey of survival through the Amazon Jungle (Part 1) (8 mins)

Against All Odds: A journey of survival through the Amazon Jungle (Part 2) (6 mins)

A solo, source to sea navigation of the Amazon River. After 2 months in the jungle, Davey du Plessis was ambushed and attacked by two local men, what ensued was a remarkable story of survival.

An inspirational talk on Davey’s survival in the Amazon Jungle after he was ambushed and shot 4 times.

A documentary (in 2 parts) produced in South Africa (Against All Odds) about Davey du Plessis.

Janine Shepherd : A broken body isn’t a broken person (TED Talk) (19 mins)
Cross-country skier Janine Shepherd hoped for an Olympic medal — until she was hit by a truck during a training bike ride. She shares a powerful story about the human potential for recovery. Her message: you are not your body, and giving up old dreams can allow new ones to soar.
Aimee Mullins: The opportunity of adversity (TED Talk) (22 mins)
The thesaurus might equate “disabled” with synonyms like “useless” and “mutilated,” but ground-breaking runner Aimee Mullins is out to redefine the word. Defying these associations, she shows how adversity — in her case, being born without shinbones — actually opens the door for human potential.
Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life (TED Talk) (19 mins)
When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. In this moving talk, McGonigal explains how a game can boost resilience — and promises to add 7.5 minutes to your life.
Richard Branson: Life at 30,000 feet TED Talk) (30 mins)
Richard Branson talks to TED’s Chris Anderson about the ups and the downs of his career, from his multibillionaire success to his multiple near-death experiences — and reveals some of his (very surprising) motivations.


News ArticlesWeb Articles
TitleTopic Link Abstract
“Clinging to life”, 2004, The Age, Australia
Can a strong will to live help you overcome extreme conditions? Lisa Mitchell looks at surviving against the odds.

Contains commentary from Dr Damian McMahon, director of shock trauma services at The Canberra Hospital, and Dr Kenneth Kamler, author of Surviving the Extremes: A Doctor’s Journey to the Limits of Human Endurance, 2004,St. Martin’s Press(refer to Books)
Remarkable Survival Stories, (2009),
A good article with several summaries of Australians and overseas visitors in Australia who have survived extreme conditions.
Luke Shambrook joins others who survived when the odds were against them, (2015), The Australian
Australian survivors
Disaster Readiness Index, Volunteering Queensland Inc., (2015)
The Disaster Readiness Index is a short 9-questions checklist which focuses on the things you need to know, the actions you should be taking, and your understanding of your environment before and during a disaster. The result of the checklist is your very own Disaster Readiness Index, measured upon a base score of 100.
The Road to Resilience, American Psychological Association
Text reproduced from a brochure produced by the APA.

This brochure is intended to help readers with taking their own road to resilience. The information within describes resilience and some factors that affect how people deal with hardship. Much of the brochure focuses on developing and using a personal strategy for enhancing resilience.


Journal PapersReports
Citation Link Abstract
Zimmerman, M. D., Appadurai, K., Scott, J. G., Jellett, L. B., &Garlick, F. H. (1997). Survival. Annals of Internal Medicine, 127(5), 405-409.
Editorial. Discusses the experiences encountered during medical school in Australia while mentioning the hiking expedition. What other activities apart from studying did the author involve himself in; Reflection on his hiking expedition; Reference to the difficulties which he encountered.
Scheper-Hughes, N. (2008). A Talent for Life: Reflections on Human Vulnerability and Resilience. Ethnos,73(1), 25-56.

This article explores the limitations of the dominant psychological trauma model. Drawing on the experiences and the aftermaths of chronic ‘states of emergency ‘ among shantytown families in rural Northeast Brazil, among hunted street kids in urban Brazil, and among revolutionaries and warriors of different political stripes following the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, I identify several features of human resilience, the sources of strength, toughness, hardiness, and relative immunity from personal and psychological collapse that we have come to associate with exposure to a variety of human calamities. We need to rethink our notions of trauma, violence and its sequelae. It wasn’t ruthlessness that enabled an individual to survive – it was an intangible quality, not particular to educated or sophisticated individuals. Anyone might have it. It is perhaps best described as an overriding thirst – perhaps, too, a talent for life.
Parker, J. (2008). Wisdom in wind and water: Katrina and other lessons of a social work educator. Traumatology, Vol 14(4), Dec 2008, 75-82.


The worst natural disaster in U.S. history was anything but natural for the city of New Orleans and the Tulane School of Social Work. The associate dean’s account of personal and collective losses and victories in the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the broken levees in New Orleans provides social work education both confirmation of and challenges to traditional thinking about trauma, recovery, and resilience. Actual accounts of individual and organizational survival are linked to tenets of trauma responses within a framework of lessons that inform the reader on personal, practice, and teaching dimensions.
Scott, D. (1979). A Crawl Down the Ogre.The Himalayan Journal, Vol.35
Karakoram: BainthaBrakk (Ogre), 23,900 ft. An account of the first ascent by a British expedition and the subsequent accident which resulted in Doug Scott crawling for seven days, on his hands and knees, down one of the highest mountains in the world with two untreated broken legs and on starvation rations.
Cohn, A., Hodson, S. &Crane, M. (2010). Resilience training in the Australian Defence Force. InPsych, April 2010
This article focuses specifically on the resilience training programs being developed to enhance the coping abilities of ADF personnel. The resilience training program, dubbed BattleSMART (Self-Management and Resilience Training), is a cognitive-behavioural based program that aims to develop both arousal reduction techniques (i.e., the Self-Management component) and adaptive cognitive coping strategies. ADF personnel are taught to identify adaptive from maladaptive responses to stressful situations and adjust their responses as necessary. The article also outlines the origins and empirical support for psychological resilience training in the ADF.
Moss, A. (2012). Evaluation of the Ab Initio Officer BattleSMART Module at the RAAF Officer Training School. JHC Technical Brief R11047793. Joint Health Command Canberra, Australia, February 2012



BattleSMART (Self-Management and Resilience Training) is a modularised educational program that operates across the ADF, teaching resilience training at key points throughout a member’s career. It is a preventive program designed to enhance an individual’s ability to cope effectively with increased stress and adverse or potentially traumatic events in their lives. As a result of the recommendation by Dunt (2009), an Ab Initio Officer module of BattleSMART was developed and rolled out to the RAAF Officer Training School (OTS) in 2010.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the Ab Initio Officer BattleSMART module delivered at the RAAF OTS, as per the recommendation by Dunt (2009), to determine whether the current module meets the needs of personnel undergoing officer training.


Title Link Abstract
Scott, James & Robertson, Joanne, (1993). Lost in the Himalayas : James Scott’s 43-day ordeal. Lothian, Port Melbourne.
This is the incredible story of James Scott’s survival. He lasted 43 days in the Himalayan winter; he survived cold, hunger, isolation and despair. He should never have made it out of the mountains alive. It is also the story of another struggle, of the search kept alive by his sister, Joanne Robertson. She refused to give up hope. This is a story about hope, endurance, survival and the human spirit.
Kamler, K.(2004). Surviving the extremes: A doctor’s journey to the limits of human endurance, St. Martin’s Press.
Surviving the Extremes uses first-hand testimony and documented accounts to illustrate what happens in environments where our instinctive survival strategies must become fully engaged. At the heart of the book is a quest for the source of our will to survive and the question of why some can, and others cannot, summon it at their moment of greatest need.
Du Plessis, D.(2013).Choosing to live: A remarkable true story of adventure and survival in the amazon jungle, On Demand Publishing, LLC-Create Space.
Two months into a planned solo source to sea navigation of the Amazon River, adventurer, Davey du Plessis was ambushed and shot within the isolated jungles of Peru. The adventure turned into an intense moment-to-moment struggle to survive as he made his way wounded through the dense jungle, seeking rescue and safety.
Wood, Gareth & Jamieson, Eric, 1949- (1996). South Pole: 900 miles on foot. Horsdal&Schubart Publishers, Victoria, B.C
Canadian Gareth Wood along with two Englishmen successfully walked across Antarctica to the South Pole. Each man hauled a sledge loaded with 350 pounds of survival gear 900 miles through the unimaginable cold of the empty, hostile continent. Unlike Robert F Scott’s 1911-12 Antarctica expedition, this trek to the bottom of the world ended with success and survival. Roger Mear, Robert Swan, and Gareth Wood overcame 9,000 feet of altitude and 900 miles of frozen barriers en route to the South Pole without dogs, radios, mechanical support, or caches of food. In tribute to their American predecessor, they used Scott’s log. Their epic struggle tested these self-assured individuals and taught them the value of co-operation and teamwork in the face of disaster. For Gareth Wood, the day they finally reached the Pole was more the beginning of a new journey than the end of his quest. The ship that was to have collected the team was crushed in the ice. Not only did Wood survive another year in the Antarctic, but he also lived to describe the horrific attack by a savage leopard seal.


Assessing Accounts of Personal Resilience. You are to read and critically analyse at least 2 personal accounts of a response to an emergency situation. (e.g., Joe Simpson touching the void). How were those accounts similar? In what way were they different? Drawing on the readings as well as your own research of the literature on resilience, what were the factors that promoted and reduced resilience in these people during their response to this emergency?
Step 1:.Describe the personal accounts you are considering. Give a brief description of these accounts. What happened, where? How? Be precise. (200 words)
Step 2: Assess the factors that promoted and/or reduced resilienceFocusing on the modules associated with physiological and psychological resilience, discuss the factors that promoted and reduced resilience in these personal accounts. (300 words). You might consider creating a table in your submission that talks about the factor in one column (e.g., positive emotions and the description in another column e.g., Simpson went through many emotional states however in the end managed to continue to stay positive and this assisted him to keep looking for ways to escape the crevasse). The table can be excluded from the word count if you are struggling for space.