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Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success

Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success

5.0 1
by David B. Feldman, Lee Daniel Kravetz

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Starting where resiliency studies leave off, two psychologists explore the science of remarkable accomplishment in the wake of trauma, revealing the surprising principles that allow people to transform their lives and achieve extraordinary things.

Over four billion people worldwide will survive a trauma during their lives. Some will experience severe


Starting where resiliency studies leave off, two psychologists explore the science of remarkable accomplishment in the wake of trauma, revealing the surprising principles that allow people to transform their lives and achieve extraordinary things.

Over four billion people worldwide will survive a trauma during their lives. Some will experience severe post-traumatic stress. Most will eventually recover and return to life as normal. But sometimes, survivors do more than bounce back. Sometimes they bounce forward.

These are the Supersurvivors—individuals who not only rebuild their lives, but also thrive and grow in ways never previously imagined. Beginning where resilience ends, David B. Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz look beyond the tenets of traditional psychology for a deeper understanding of the strength of the human spirit. What they have found flies in the face of conventional wisdom—that positive thinking may hinder more than help; that perceived support can be just as good as the real thing; and that realistic expectations may be a key to great success.

They introduce the humble but powerful notion of grounded hope as the foundation for overcoming trauma. The authors interviewed dozens of men and women whose stories serve as the counterpoint to the latest scientific research. Feldman and Kravetz then brilliantly weave these extraordinary narratives with new science, creating an emotionally compelling and thought-provoking look at what is possible in the face of human tragedy. Supersurvivors will reset our thinking about how we deal with challenges, no matter how big or small.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Feldman and Kravetz seek the special spark that separates those who grow and thrive from adversity and those who simply survive. Using real-life examples—including a breast cancer survivor, an athlete who lost a leg, and a marathoner diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor—the authors examine the common denominators in each case and what turned each into a person determined to use a tragic event as a springboard for personal and global change. The authors believe that blinding optimism can actually make situations worse; instead, they promote the idea that a grounded hope—believing that, in the face of all contrary evidence, something better is possible—is what separates survivors from “supersurvivors.” These supersurvivors also believe in control over one’s own destiny; acknowledge the past, forgive, and let traumatic experiences go; have realistic expectations; and recognize their own mortality while making the conscious decision to live life to the fullest. “We intended to write a book about how a few extraordinary people had survived trauma,” the authors claim, and “with the help of supersurvivors... we ended up writing about how every one of us can live more fully.” (July)
Time magazine online
“Turns out surviving the most dangerous situations has some good lessons we can use to learn how to be resilient in everyday life.”
“An inspirational read that’s rooted in hard science.”
Diane Dreher
“Fascinating. . . . ultimately, we discover our ability to deal with unforeseen challenges and realize the remarkable potential of the human spirit.”
Harvard Business Review
“If you read Feldman and Kravetz, you will come away inspired and more attuned to the factors that influence resilience?including religious faith, the ability to forgive, and awareness of mortality.”
Bloomberg Businessweek
“This summer’s Big Idea book!”
Kirkus Reviews
Two psychologists provide a nontechnical exploration of how certain people not only survive trauma, but actually thrive after a traumatic experience.Feldman (Counseling Psychology/Santa Clara Univ.; co-author: The End-of-Life Handbook: A Compassionate Guide to Connecting with and Caring for a Dying Loved One, 2008, etc.) and Kravetz use artfully described case studies to demonstrate their point, while also avoiding excessive psychological terminology. The authors base each chapter on a particular aspect of change in the trauma victim—e.g., individuals such as anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who was forced to reassess her understanding of the world around her after tragedy: in her case, the loss of her son in the Iraq war. For others, there is an awakening to faith, as in the case of social activist James Cameron, who testifies that he was saved from lynching by God. There are also intensely powerful stories of forgiveness, such as that of Clemantine Wamariya, who survived the slaughter in Rwanda, followed by life as a refugee. However, the very aspect that makes the book approachable also limits its effectiveness. The authors' work is largely anecdotal in nature and does not delve into true analysis of the supersurvivor phenomenon. Though they provide some discussion of the psychological, physical and social aspects of these survivors' stories, readers are left wondering just how often a trauma survivor thrives in such ways, and why. Nevertheless, the book is uplifting and provides hope for the human condition. Feldman and Kravetz's closing story—about Nobel Peace Prize recipient Betty Williams—is particularly riveting. Her life was drastically changed one day when she witnessed a senseless sectarian killing in Northern Ireland. Instead of recoiling, she acted and began a peace movement that changed the history of that country.Hope for the endurance of the human spirit in the face of tragedy.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek
“This summer’s Big Idea book!”
Mindful Magazine
“A charming and thoughtful mix of scientific thought and anecdotal evidence.”
Houston Style Magazine Online
“Supersurvivors is a book you should uncover.”
Aron Ralston
“Supersurvivors might well be a how-to manual on taking adversity and turning it into an advantage. As I read it, I kept thinking: I wish I’d had this book ten years ago!”
Walter M. Bortz
Supersurvivors provides the contemporary science about the biology of hope that is vital for all of us-all of us-as we daily confront challenge big and small, real and imagined.”
Frederic Luskin
“It’s rare to find a book that appeals so well to both the head and the heart. Marrying eye-opening stories with thought-provoking science, Feldman and Kravetz open a powerful window into a world of forgiveness and hope.”
Linda Ellerbee
“Just surviving suffering is a form of success. But these people have done more than survive, and their stories are worth your time. One day you may need what they have.”
Ethan Watters
“Supersurvivors is a brilliant rethinking of the consequences of trauma. This book will change the meaning we give to survival, both for individuals and for our culture as a whole.”
Adam Grant
“This is a blockbuster that every leader, parent, doctor, teacher, student, coach, and caregiver needs to read. I can’t remember the last time I was so fascinated and moved by a book-let alone one grounded in science.”
Po Bronson
“Supersurvivors dares to ask, ‘How, really, do we heal?’ From real case studies and hard science, the answers it finds shake the foundations of the way we conceive recovery.”
Library Journal
You've heard the phrase "the power of positive thinking"? The authors challenge it in this study of triumphing in the wake of trauma, showing realistic expectations with an underpinning of hope and support are more likely to succeed. Kravetz himself survived a battle with cancer at age 29, which changed his thinking. Plenty of other success stories are listed, from the businesswoman who became an international rock star after her bout with cancer to a badly injured basketball player who became a Hollywood stuntman. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)


Meet the Author

David B. Feldman, PhD, is among the top experts on hope in the field of psychology. An associate professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University, he has written for Psychology Today and the Huffington Post, published research in top scientific journals, and lectured around the world. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lee Daniel Kravetz has a master's degree in counseling psychology and is a graduate of the University of Missouri–Columbia School of Journalism. He has written for Psychology Today, the Huffington Post, and the New York Times, among other publications. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and children.

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Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. Very inspiring. The more I read, the more I was drawn in to the stories and the common thread of the stories. I recommend this book to anyone, and, in particular to those that face challenges.