How People Put Their Lives Back Together After Life-threatening Trauma
The awkward title of this book belies one of the most insightful and inspiring books on psychological resilience ever written. “Surviving survival” refers to the long and complicated road back from trauma to normalcy, from isolation to connectedness, from despair to hope, from fear to comfort or joy, that survivors of shark attacks, combat trauma, death of a child, or other life-shattering experiences must travel. Gonzales explains how the brain’s workings, including memory systems and alarm systems, produce the unusual and intense behaviors exhibited by trauma survivors, and how survival strategies that survivors employ lay down new experiences that allow new growth and positive emotions, without ever completely erasing the trauma imprint that has been burned into the brain. One of the many great strengths of this book is the author’s use of the findings from a 60 long year study of adult development to explain how coping traits such as humor, anticipation, sublimation, suppression, and altruism help us prepare for and recover from life’s inevitable psychological trauma.