Rupture, Repair, Resilience (and Kintsugi)

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For members of the AiMH UK Wales Hub

A Blog by Dr Nicola Canale, Specialist Educational Psychologist, South Wales

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“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
Leonard Cohen, Selected Poems, 1956-1968

A few weeks ago, the focus of our lock-down art class was ‘Kintsugi’ – the Japanese custom of repairing broken or cracked items with gold.

Once completed, beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of the item, giving a unique appearance to each “repaired” piece.

This method celebrates each items unique history by emphasising its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them and often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful and interesting than the original.

I reflected on how this processes also makes an item stronger and more resilient to withstanding future knocks and bumps and about the similarities between Kintsugi and a concept known as ‘rupture and repair’.

What is Rupture and Repair?

Dr. Allan Schore has written a lot on this topic. He explains how it is nearly impossible to be completely in tune (or attuned) with our child at all times.  Many ‘ruptures’ will occur during our interaction with our child and, provided we are able to notice and ‘repair’ these ruptures, then this process can actually help our child to learn how to tolerate and manage negative emotions as they grow.

Trying our best to stay calm, close and connected to our child during these tricky moments (especially when we need to say ‘no’ or are trying to stick to a limit or boundary we have set) will help our child develop resilience and will act as a buffer against more difficult childhood experiences that they may encounter e.g., the loss of a loved one, a frightening event or even a global pandemic.

So back to Kintsugi. If we think about the cracks in items as the ‘ruptures‘ that occur during our interaction with our child, then the ‘repairs‘ we make are the golden threads that we weave into our child’s life to help them withstand the knocks and bumps that they will encounter across the lifespan.

Surely this is one of the most precious gifts we could bestow on our child, one that will be passed down from generation to generation.

Dr Allan Schore talks about the role that ‘repairing the rupture’ has on developing resilience in young children https://youtu.be/cbfuBex-3jE?t=1

Dr Dan Siegel explains how important a secure attachment is when it comes to repairing the rupture in relationships https://youtu.be/_XjXv6zseA0?t=2

This video by the Science of Child Development talks about different types of stress that can help and hinder development https://youtu.be/rVwFkcOZHJw

3 thoughts on “Rupture, Repair, Resilience (and Kintsugi)”

  1. A lovely metaphor, especially as you have to be mindful of not just obvious breaks but all of the small, almost invisible, cracks that might rupture under unforeseen stress sometime in the future. That occurs all the time, unnoticed in the give and take of intuitive parenting. (Which only has to be ‘good enough’; paradoxically far better than perfect.) It also occurs in therapy, in ‘moments of meeting’. So this is a golden re-connection, repairing before something snaps, that can create enduring resilience. Gold is not only a highly malleable metal that adapts to circumstance, one might say, it is also long-enduring and resistant to corrosion.

    • Wow, I love this Robin. This is particularly relevant when working with babies and toddlers in the care system. I will share this metaphor with my colleagues. Such important aspects that need to be seriously considered by social care and foster carers. I like the fact that you highlighted “enduring resilience” too.

  2. Thanks Nicola for this link between ‘making an item stronger and more resilient to withstanding future knocks and bumps’ (through Kintsugi) and the similar process within human relationships.

    The metaphor develops – I like the ‘golden re-connection’ Robin!

    I’ve posted the video interview links with Schore and Siegel on the IMH Conversation page – thank you, Nicola.

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