Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience

Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience

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by Laurence Gonzales
     
 

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You have survived the crisis—trauma, disease, accident, or war—now how do you get your life back?

The shark attacked while she was snorkeling, tearing through Micki Glenn’s breast and shredding her right arm. Her husband, a surgeon, saved her life on the spot, but when she was safely home she couldn’t just go on with her life. She had

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Overview

You have survived the crisis—trauma, disease, accident, or war—now how do you get your life back?

The shark attacked while she was snorkeling, tearing through Micki Glenn’s breast and shredding her right arm. Her husband, a surgeon, saved her life on the spot, but when she was safely home she couldn’t just go on with her life. She had entered an even more profound survival journey: the aftermath.

The survival experience changes everything because it invalidates all your previous adaptations, and the old rules don’t apply. In some cases survivors suffer more in the aftermath than they did during the actual crisis. In all cases, they have to work hard to reinvent themselves. Drawing on gripping cases across a wide range of life-threatening experiences, Laurence Gonzales fashions a compelling argument about fear, courage, and the adaptability of the human spirit. Micki Glenn was later moved to say: “I don’t regret that this happened to me. [It] has been . . . probably the single most positive experience I’ve ever had.”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gonzales (Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why), a National Magazine Award–winning journalist, tackles a difficult narrative: the near-deadly encounter and the life that must be lived afterward. The people whose stories he presents have endured trials ranging from entrapment in the jaws of a ferocious crocodile to the threat from an abusive husband. Gonzales follows these traumas into their aftermath, where the mind continues, often torturously, to repeat the incident. Gonzales, trying in part to identify common factors of postsurvival success, finds that often it is one’s ability to act (go back to school, learn to play golf, motorcycle cross-country), but it is also, he suggests, the brain’s wiring that makes it easier for some than for others to adapt. As in Deep Survival, Gonzales intersperses journalistic case studies with information about the brain and its responses to trauma. Such juxtapositions at times seem contrived and at odds with the emotionally charged experiences the author aims to convey. In fact, what emerges from all of the stories is that surviving survival cannot be reduced to a science or even a narrative. But for this reason the book will likely be useful for those with resonating experiences: the cases provide multidisciplinary evidence that nobody struggles in isolation. Agent: Gail Hochman. (Sept.)
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“Illness. Divorce. Job Loss. The Death of a loved one. You don't get this far in life without experiencing some adversity. But while you can't avoid painful events, you can learn to control your response to them. Here, [Gonzales] revals how recovery can be a transforming experience that not only moves us forward but also enriches our lives in ways we never could have imagined.”
MoreMagazine
“Illness. Divorce. Job Loss. The Death of a loved one. You don't get this far in life without experiencing some adversity. But while you can't avoid painful events, you can learn to control your response to them. Here, [Gonzales] revals how recovery can be a transforming experience that not only moves us forward but also enriches our lives in ways we never could have imagined.”
Library Journal
Gonzales (Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why) here addresses the nature and resolution of traumatic stress. Chapters contain case studies, drawn from books, interviews, and other written documents, of persons who have faced horrific conditions ranging from animal attacks to military combat and domestic violence. Using these narratives to explore how such shocks and assaults affect the human psyche, Gonzales focuses on resilience, acknowledging that trauma changes people forever but offering specific strategies for handling such stresses and avoiding self-pity, including unorthodox suggestions like sports, knitting, and travel as well as other tools for psychological adaptation (excluding drug therapy) that may enhance the healing process. VERDICT Gonzales has scripted a compelling and readable guide to the psychology of individual crisis management for the general reader. Though victims of severe PTSD will obviously need professional help, this book provides useful tools for dealing with the misfortune that creeps into many people's lives. This is a timely, realistic, and accessible self-help book on the potential of growth from suffering. Recommended.—Antoinette Brinkman, Evansville, IN
Kirkus Reviews
How can the world smite thee? Let us count the ways... Having limned the odds and wherefores of surviving various challenges in Deep Survival (2003) and Everyday Survival (2008), Gonzales (Lucy, 2010, etc.) looks deeply into the mental processes that enable us to cope with the trauma that often sets in during and after a challenge to our survival. Take, for instance, the prospect of falling overboard and floating in the deep ocean for five days before rescue, as happened to one woman Gonzales profiled in the first book. Though she was rescued, that was not the end of the story in real life; instead, for years, she has had to relive "the pain of thirst, the terror, the physical brutality of the sea," while her brain has followed its well-known assumption that what happened in the past will happen in the future, no matter how rare the chances of being shipwrecked. Here Gonzales narrates plenty of grim and gruesome tales, not all of them elective; his survivors are those who have suffered war and terrorism as well as falls off mountains and into choppy surf. The best parts are not those harrowing stories, though, but instead the author's contemplative explanations of the science behind, for instance, how the amygdala works, a blend of inheritance and hard-won education. Pity us poor primates and our amygdalae, for, as he writes, "[w]hen bad things happen, this system can be the source of much sorrow." One manifestation is the "rage circuit," which so often afflicts soldiers returning from combat. Those who adapt well to the post-traumatic stress share points in common. One characteristic of success, writes Gonzales, is the ability to step outside oneself to help others, which is "one of the most therapeutic steps you can take." Survivors of traumatic events often do not recover without help from others, and Gonzales' excellent book is an education for those wishing to be of use in a stressful, often frightening world.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393089905
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
09/03/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
292,766
File size:
0 MB

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