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.
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."