Beyond survival: A study of factors influencing psychological resilience among Cambodian child survivors

2007 2007

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

War is a one of the major causes of child mortality and morbidity worldwide. Research evidence suggests that exposure to war trauma increases a child's risk of developing psychological problems, both short and long term. However, studies of resilience have shown that some children have a remarkable ability to survive trauma with little or no damage to their psyche.

This dissertation is a study of individuals who have survived childhood war trauma and managed to rise above the odds to function well in major areas of life. The study was designed to explore factors contributing to their ability to remain resilient in the face of adversity. Using in-depth phenomenological interviewing, ten Cambodian child survivors were interviewed. All of the participants were separated from their families in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took over and suffered extraordinarily difficult ordeals during their internment in the labor camps. Some managed to reunite with their families in 1979 after the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia before fleeing to the refugee camps in Thailand. Others lost all of their family members and came to the US as accompanied minors.

Findings emerging from this study reveal that family cohesion, positive childhood memories, supportive recovery environment, stubborn determination to overcome obstacles, and Buddhist values are important factors that work together to produce resiliency. All of the participants were raised by empathic parents and learned to become self-reliant at an early age. The affection and warmth which marked those early years were the most important in sustaining them during difficult times in their lives. The Buddhist values of accepting suffering as their fate allowed them to form greater tolerance of the hardships and enabled them to face adversity with optimism and confidence. As survivors, they are proud and determined to make the most of "the second chance" granted to them. In the resettlement phase, they were able to heal their wounds quickly by letting bygones be bygones and optimistically moving toward the future. The safe and supportive recovery environment combined with an easy access to different resources made it possible for them to quickly put their shattered lives back together.

Indexing (details)

Academic guidance counseling;
Minority & ethnic groups;
0519: Academic guidance counseling
0622: Psychotherapy
0631: Minority & ethnic groups
0631: Sociology
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Education; Psychology; Cambodian; Cambodian child survivors; Child survivors; Coping with war; Resilience; Survival; War trauma
Beyond survival: A study of factors influencing psychological resilience among Cambodian child survivors
Fuderich, Urakorn Khajornwit
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 68/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Evans, David R.
Committee member
Gerber, Daniel S.; Mosselson, Jaccqueline R.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.