In the movie Pan's Labyrinth, Ofelia escaped the frightening and commanding presence of her stepfather though her fantasy books and her immense imagination. This theme of escape from oppression is also evidenced in the novel The Book Thief, where Max escapes his oppressive reality through writing and his friendship with Liesel. Liesel herself was able to escape the reality of the war that was around her, and the death of her brother through her love of books and reading. This may lead one to wonder whether there is some truth in these fictional tales, is it possible that books and the act of writing can help one to survive an oppressive situation psychologically, and what factors contribute to an individual overcoming oppression?
According to psychology, the ability of humans to adapt to negative life situations and withstand stress and adversity is centered in a concept called resilience. An individual with resilience may experience the stress and pain that oppression and adversity brings; however, they are better able to control their negative emotions, rather than allowing these emotions to control their thoughts and actions. Resilience is not something people are born with or without, it is a trait that is developed. However, there are causational factors that contribute to the development of resilience. A few of these factors are: Having at least one close friendship and or having a
close relationship with one's family. having high self efficacy, and feeling some perception of control over one's life. Being compassionate and actively helping others , having a special talent, holding religious beliefs, and having good social skills just to name a few factors (APA Resilience) (Belsky 208). Many of these are also factors that research has found that many survivors of the Holocaust claim greatly contributed to their survival (Goldenberg 1-2).
In addition to the aforementioned factors that contribute to resilience, there are also many coping strategies that individuals use in the face of extreme stress. However, whereas the factors that contribute to resilience are all positive, not all coping strategies are necessarily good for ones health. For example, the use of alcohol and drugs is considered a form of coping strategy, and no therapist or doctor in his or her right mind would suggest this as an adequate way to cope. There are also positive actions that are considered coping strategies and the main purpose of many of these positive coping strategies is to build up resilience. Some examples of a few positive coping strategies are: seeking support, finding humor in the situation, relaxation, exercise, venting (UCLA Diagnosis Clinic), and engaging in enjoyable activities (APA Coping 4). Another way that individuals under extreme stress cope with their situation is though escape. This is where an individual will find some way to mentally take a step back from their situation. Many people do this through some form of distraction, such...