|Basic InformationLatest NewsVideosLinksBook Reviews|10 Minute Solution: Butt Lift10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training101 Ways to Meditate29 Gifts3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups8 Keys to Body Brain Balance8 Keys to Practicing MindfulnessA.M. EnergyAccessible Yoga for Every Body DVDAfter the Ecstasy, the LaundryAge-Proof Your MindAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAlmost MeatlessAM/PM YogaAnswers for AristotleAnywhere, Anytime, Any Body YogaAthlete's Guide to YogaAuthentic HappinessAwakening Self-EsteemBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBalanced AssetsBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBetter Sex Through YogaBody By BethennyBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBreath-Centered YogaBreathingBuddhist Boot CampCalm Body Clear MindCalm EnergyCalm Focus JoyChoosing CivilityClassical Pilates Technique DVDComplementary and Alternative Therapies ResearchCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCreative Core AbsCreative Writing In Health And Social CareDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDetox YogaDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Optimum HealthDr. Andrew Weil's Mindbody ToolkitEastern Body, Western MindEasy YogaElement: Barre ConditioningElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEmotional Chaos to ClarityEmotions, Stress, and HealthEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday GreensEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Everything VeganExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptFamily YogaFast Food for the SoulFat and FuriousFear and Other Uninvited GuestsFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow and YinFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFully PresentGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Ripped & ChiseledGood MedicineHandbook of MindfulnessHealing the Heart and Mind with MindfulnessHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealthy AgingHealthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHemalayaa's Yoga for Young Bodies DVDHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHot Body Cool Mind - Level 1Hot Body Cool Mind: Waking Energy How to Cook Everything VegetarianHow Would Buddha Act?I Contain MultitudesI'd Rather LaughIn Defense of FoodInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangInsight Yoga with Sarah PowersIntegrated YogaIntegrative MedicineIntroduction to Ashtanga Yoga DVDIntroduction to Qi YogaIntroduction to Yoga DVDIt's Up to YouJanis Saffell Beverly Hills YogaKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKnowing the Nature of FearKripalu YogaKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga : DVDKundalini Yoga for Beginners & BeyondKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric DisordersKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLife MakeoversLifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Living BeautifullyLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLiving Your Best LifeLiving Your DreamLunar Flow YogaMadhur Jaffrey's World VegetarianMake It Fast, Cook It SlowManage Your Depression Through ExerciseMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMean GenesMeditation in a New York MinuteMindful AmericaMindful AngerMindfulnessMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and ApplicationsMisadventures of a Garden State YogiMozart's Brain and the Fighter PilotNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1NeuroLogicNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNutrition Essentials for Mental HealthPassionate VegetarianPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPilates AnatomyPilates for BeginnersPilates for MenPositivityPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower Yoga for HappinessPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPrenatal FlowPrescriptive StretchingPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPsychology Moment by MomentPure and Simple YogaPure SculptPure Yoga Pilates with Kerry BestwickQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQiGong IllustratedQuick Blast MethodReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRed Lotus YogaResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDSaving NormalSelf-CompassionSeven Challenges To Change Your Life DVDSleep BetterSolar Flow Yoga DVDSoupsSparkSpontaneous HappinessSports Hypnosis in PracticeStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStrength & SpiritStrength, Grace, HealingStress ReliefStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySun SalutationsSuper Natural CookingSuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift SupersurvivorsSurf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2Tai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTaming Your Inner BratTeach Yourself MeditationTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTen Minutes to RelaxThe Accidental VeganThe Angelica Home KitchenThe Art and Science of MindfulnessThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Beginner's Guide to Healthy EatingThe Best Things You Can EatThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Breathing FieldThe Cafe Brenda CookbookThe Complete Book of Raw FoodThe Complete Vegetarian HandbookThe Easy Yoga WorkbookThe Feeling Good HandbookThe Five Things We Cannot Change ...The Good LifeThe Happiness of PursuitThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Health Psychology HandbookThe Healthy KitchenThe Heart of YogaThe Indian VegetarianThe Jewel Tree of TibetThe Joy of MeditatingThe Kettlebell BoomerThe Little Book of Healthy TeasThe Little Soy BookThe Little Yoga BookThe Mood CureThe Mozart EffectThe Myth of Freedom and the Way of MeditationThe Perfect ExerciseThe Pilates Workout JournalThe Playful BrainThe Quest for Peace, Love, and a 24'' WaistThe Road to Calm WorkbookThe Spa DeckThe Spirit of Buddhist MeditationThe Stoic Art of LivingThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Ultra MindsetThe Way of StretchingThe Weight of the NationThe Well-Tuned BrainThe Will to Live and Other MysteriesThe Yin Yoga KitThink SmartTotal AstangaTotal Health the Chinese WayTotal PilatesTotal-Body ToningTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTransformative YogaTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaV-Core WorkoutVegan ExpressVegan for LifeVegetarian Turkish CookingViva Vegan!Walk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWalkingWalking a Literary LabyrinthWatch Me Do YogaWeight Loss Cardio KickWellbeingWhat We Say MattersWhen Things Fall ApartWriting in FlowYin and Yang YogaYin Yoga DVDYogaYogaYoga & Pilates Workouts for DummiesYoga 4 TeensYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga AnatomyYoga and PsychologyYoga as MedicineYoga Beauty BodyYoga Bliss HipsYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Flow DVDYoga for AnxietyYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for EveryoneYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Regular GuysYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for the Young at HeartYoga for Your WeekYoga In BedYoga in BedYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress ReliefYoga on DemandYoga Quick FixesYoga SanctuaryYoga SculptYoga ShaktiYoga TherapyYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga To Go's Yoga Quick Fixes DVDYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga to the Rescue for Pain-Free Back, Neck & ShouldersYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogabodyYogawomanYou Can Think Yourself ThinYou'll See It When You Believe ItYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVDYour Brain on FoodYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Miracle BrainZen Encounters with Loneliness
by David B. Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz
Review by Brad Frazier on Mar 31st 2015
Supersurvivors uses recurring themes in the stories of incredibly resilient human beings to sketch out the possibilities for “post traumatic growth” for people who have suffered devastating, life-altering tragedies. However, Feldman and Kravetz ultimately claim – rather democratically – that supersurvivors show us all how we can live more fully realized lives in spite of pointless suffering, injustice, violence, and other evils, large and small, of the human condition. They optimistically conclude that all of us have a capacity for this kind of resilience.
The book consists of nine chapters and an epilogue that run to just over 200 pages. Each chapter offers stories that highlight a particular recurring theme in the lives of supersurvivors. The chapters are very accessible not least because the research presented is nicely illustrated in the riveting stories. It is this book’s purpose to tell these stories, and to wrest as much psychological insight and wisdom as possible from them – even for more ordinary forms of suffering and indignity. I think it largely achieves its purpose.
Unfortunately, each year there are millions of new opportunities for a person to become a supersurvivor. As Feldman and Kravetz note: each year 13 million people are diagnosed with cancer; 50 million people survive car wrecks; 10 million suffer traumatic brain injuries; and 1 out of every 3 women is raped, beaten, or abused in some other way. That’s not to mention many other horrors people experience that certainly are not captured in these statistics, or perhaps any statistics whatsoever. As the Buddha sagely says, life is suffering.
Fortunately, that’s not all it is. The stories are inspiring, the characters intriguing. Feldman and Kravetz do an excellent job, moreover, of counteracting the Halo effect with regard to the remarkable people whose lives are on display in the book. They note up front and underscore later that supersurvivors are not necessarily morally blameless and are not without character flaws – they are all too human. That is what lends the rosy conclusion some support – perhaps significantly more than it would have otherwise. The supersurvivors clearly are just ordinary human beings in many respects. If they can do it, perhaps we can do it too.
Beware of the potential dark side here, however. So many people are permanently, irrevocably crushed by tragedy and trauma. We should be on guard not even to begin to think of such people as persons who lack or have failed to utilize something that would have made them supersurvivors. That’s just another subtle way to blame people for their own suffering, which is probably one of the oldest, most inhumane, and frankly, morally and emotionally obtuse theodicies in the world. (The authors are aware of this issue.)
What exactly is a supersurvivor, anyhow? In short: a supersurvivor is a person who suffers a trauma or tragedy, and bounces back from it with a greater degree of positive change than is normal, to the point that supersurvivors change the meaning of their suffering by turning it into fertilizer for personal growth and self-creation. Most people experience at least some degree of positive change, usually inner growth, at some point after trauma, it turns out. Supersurvivors, however, experience profound inner change (“perceived growth,” as it is sometimes called). As a result, they begin to notice and appreciate value and opportunity where they might never have seen them before. The meanings of their lives are altered, ultimately for the better by their resilience.
Perhaps this is the spot where the clarification Feldman and Kravetz make in the beginning of the book, needs to be noted. These authors are clear to disabuse us of the notion that there is something inherently positive or indispensable about atrocities, violence, disasters, illness, and other sources of human (and animal) trauma. They emphasize that they are notextolling the “bright side of tragedy,” or the “power of positive thinking,” and that no trauma is good (7).
Another way to put this is to say that Supersurvivors doesn’t offer us a kind of theodicy. Feldman and Kravetz are not proposing a way of reconciling ourselves, intellectually or emotionally, to the horrors of the world.
Here are 10 random but interesting (to me at least) nuggets from Supersurvivors:
* Grounded hope is much better for you than mere positive thinking. What’s the difference? Positive thinking often involves having to distort the situation, to realize its potency. Grounded hope, however, combines a realistic view of the situation with perhaps a slightly inflated belief in oneself and in one’s ability to control one’s future.
* We need some positive illusions about ourselves, if we want to achieve, create, and be productive, and if we want to be as resilient as we can be.
* It’s extremely easy to fall into victim blaming if one believes some version of the following combination: the world is basically good; good things happen to good people; of course, I am a good person. It’s a short trip to ‘if a bad thing happens to a person, that person must not be good in some way’ from here. Cue Job’s friends.
* What most matters in regard to support from others, when a person is recovering from trauma, is that this person believes that the support she is experiencing will continue to be there for her as she needs it.
* We are death averse, of course. There is a superficial way to deal with death, and a deeper way, what Feldman and Kravetz refer to as “death reflection.” The latter involves integrating into one’s life and thoughts the recognition of the reality that death will come, inevitably, invariably. This kind of bracing facing-up-to-death perspective is a theme of every supersurvivor’s story.
* Religious faith can be helpful in the work of resilience. It can also be harmful. The most toxic kind of faith for personal growth and recovery is belief in a judgmental, angry God who is punishing you for your sins through your suffering; and everyone else, too.
* So, the actual content of a person’s religious belief matters, in terms of its effects on one’s overall mental health. Some particular religious beliefs are deadly; others are helpful and promote recovery. (I bet you can guess which is which.)
* A formula for a potentially edifying form of forgiveness: give up the quest to change what has already happened; admit the suffering you’ve endured may have forever changed your life; own your feelings of anger and resentment; give up the hope that the past could be any different. Abandon your right to revenge; refuse thereby to be a victim.
* Choice is not what it’s cracked up to be, as Feldman and Kravetz put it. More options quickly lead to decision paralysis.
* There are “maximizers” and “satisfiers” when it comes to kinds of chooser. The maximizers have to try to make the best choice possible, whenever possible. The satisfiers settle for a good-enough option when it presents itself. Maximizers make better choices; but they experience much more anxiety, and in a way their work is never done. Satisfiers experience more satisfaction and much less regret than maximizers.
I am definitely a satisfier. This seems a good enough place to end.
© 2015 Brad Frazier
Brad Frazier, Dept of Philosophy, Wells College