Christopher Duffley and Opening our Eyes to Resilience in Living

By Maria Mangicaro

Mad in America blogger Dr. Steven Moffic added what I thought is a very compassionate and meaningful post entitled “Resilience in Recovery” to Robert Whitaker’s site.   Dr. Moffic is an experienced psychiatrist who relates the key quality of resilience and his personal encounters to recent inspirational stories from our wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Resilience is such a powerful word.

The dictionary defines the meaning as:

: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

Resilience, we see it everywhere in nature, especially where there is a will to survive.

Resilience, is there any better word to describe what it takes to recover from anything?


Psychologists consider our mental resilience and have coined the term “psychological resilience”.

“Psychological resilience” From Wikipedia:

Resilience in psychology refers to the idea of an individual’s tendency to cope with stress and adversity.  This coping may result in the individual “bouncing back” to a previous state of normal functioning, or using the experience of exposure to adversity to produce a “steeling effect” and function better than expected (much like an inoculation gives one the capacity to cope well with future exposure to disease).[1] Resilience is most commonly understood as a process, and not a trait of an individual.[2]

Recently there has also been evidence that resilience can indicate a capacity to resist a sharp decline in functioning even though a person temporarily appears to get worse.[3][4] A child, for example, may do poorly during critical life transitions (like entering junior high) but experience problems that are less severe than would be expected given the many risks the child faces.  Click here to read more.

Resilience and individuals labeled “Mentally Ill”

As chronicled in the book “Mad in America:  Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill“, individuals labeled “mentally ill” historically have faced many obstacles and adversities.  Our courts systems continue to allow certain individuals labeled “mentally ill” to be among a class of people who are deprived equal protection.

For those labeled with and treated for severe “mentally illness”, both physical and psychological resilience can be important factors for survival, recovery, empowerment, dealing with stigma, finding acceptance and redefining oneself.

While there are many conditions and factors that can be researched and analyzed on what it takes to build “psychological resilience”,  there are those of us who rely heavily on a basic foundation rooted on principles of faith, hope and love.

“Psychological resilience” From Psalm 23 and A Prayer to Saint Francis

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon.  Where there is doubt, faith.  Where there is despair, hope.  Where there is darkness, light.  Where there is sadness, joy.”

Christopher’s Gift

Born in May of 2001, Christopher Duffley was a child who really did not have much of a fighting chance to survive.  His biological mother’s addiction to Oxycotin and cocaine contributing to a premature birth.  Weighing less than two pounds, and born permanently blind from retina detachment, Christopher spent the first seven months of his life hospitalized.   He was initially  placed in Florida’s foster care until his aunt and uncle adopted him at the age of 2.  Christopher didn’t speak in full sentences until the first grade and was later diagnosed with autism.

Despite the challenges, Duffley’s adopted parents (who are devout Christians), didn’t lose hope or waiver in their faith. And as the years passed, they would discover that Christopher displayed tremendous giftings in music. Particularly fond of Christian praise and worship songs, Christopher is now in high demand to perform at churches, sporting events and other venues.

Duffley’s story is an amazing testament that no matter how challenging one’s situation may appear, there will always be silver linings in the midst of the obstacles and pain.  In fact, Christopher’s parents have used his story to advocate on behalf of pro-life groups to show that what society would often consider “damaged” or unwanted, is actually something to be considered very special.  Click here to read more, or join Christopher’s Facebook Fan page.

Uploaded by     on Dec 13, 2011

Christopher Duffley moves Teamsters to tears with this a cappella version of “Lean on Me.”

Uploaded by     on Jul  7, 2011


7 thoughts on “Christopher Duffley and Opening our Eyes to Resilience in Living

  1. Maria,

    Thank you for putting this inspirational post on ISEPP.
    As a rehabilitation counselor, I’ve met many people along the way – with blindness and autism, and many other challenges, who inspired me beyond words.

    They served as a testimony to the human spirit – and to the source of that Spirit.

    “Three things will live forever – faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.” – St. Paul, the Apostle


    • Duane,

      While I don’t have any background as a mental health professional, I have had the opportunity to volunteer as an arts and crafts instructor for individuals with TBIs, so I do know the feeling of being inspired beyond words.

      Inspiration-all is a contagious condition.

      Hopefully it keeps spreading.

      Thank you for your kind words,

      P.S. As a Catholic I would never challenge St. Paul, but if I had my say, I would rank faith as #1….here on Earth, hope and love can seem like they run out and all that we have to rely on is everlasting, resilient faith.

  2. Maria,

    The Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila

    Let nothing disturb you.
    Let nothing frighten you.
    All things pass.
    God does not change.
    Patience achieves everything.
    Whoever has God lacks nothing.
    God alone suffices.

    Keep the faith,

    Duane (a cradle Catholic)

  3. A true US Ambassador, Christopher Duffley is, but one blessing, of how God blesses America. An old Celtic/Irish saying applies here.(Is ar Dhia bhronntanas a mharc. Is e an marc a chuid omha). God gives a gift of his mark. The mark is in God,s image. Every Irish/American and all US nationals should be so proud, to have the honour in having a fellow citizen Christopher Duffley perform his amazing talent. Coming from where Christopher came, plus a disability ( an Mharc) to his loving parents and family, is part of God,s gift. We all can see, realize and learn from this experience by such a performance as of Christopher,s life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s