WINNING LIFE'S TOUGHEST BATTLES: Roots of Human Resilience by Julius Segal


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Psychologist Segal, who has counseled Irani hostages and Vietnam POWs, sets forth the techniques that enabled them and others to survive extreme stress and frequently become even more resilient. The first ""key for survival"" that he has discerned is communication. He cites numerous examples--from alcoholics to Nazi concentration camp victims--who have survived unbelievable stress by gaining the confidence to keep talking with others. One example: Vietnam POWs, kept in total isolation, developed a code by which they tapped messages to others in nearby cells. The second survival key is ""control,"" namely, taking charge of one's life after a catastrophic trauma. This, in effect, means establishing order and routine when faced with events that have destroyed the normal ways of coping. Among many examples, he cites the Iranian hostages, who tried to get some control over their guards by sharing with them food and other gifts sent from home. Then there is what Segal calls conviction, or ""giving purpose to your life."" Here his examples are a bit nebulous and self-deluding; a young couple discovers that a child's death has given them an opportunity for growth; parents of children dying of leukemia draw strength through a belief that the useless treatment somehow has scientific worth. Other survival techniques include shedding self-blame and getting outside of oneself to help others. In sum: not much here that hasn't been said before, yet Segal's firsthand examples are often inspirational.

Pub Date: July 28th, 1986
Publisher: McGraw-Hill