THE RESILIENT SELF by Steven J. Wolin

THE RESILIENT SELF

How Survivors of Troubled Families Rise Above Adversity
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A self-help volume for adult children of dysfunctional families that puts the emphasis on rising above adversity rather than on reliving the pain of abusive relationships. Here's a book with as many clichÇs as there are buzzwords in the sentence above, with the authors including dozens of anecdotes about people with no last names--Barbara, Noreen, Alan, Bill; a do- it-yourself ``Damage Inventory''; and terms like ``Damage Model,'' ``Challenge Model,'' and ``Victim's Trap,'' plus a list of seven ``resiliences'' that line up to become chapters in the book--which, however, is not without value. The Wolins (he: Psychiatry/George Washington School of Medicine; she: a child-development specialist) point out to victims and therapists alike that children of troubled families may be more instrumental in their own survival than they realize. Even as preschool youngsters, they may implement one or more of the ``resiliences''--insight, independence, initiative, humor, creativity, or morality--to preserve a core of self. The chapter on relationships is typical, illustrated by stories of one ``Sandra'' 's friendship with an elderly neighbor, and including an interesting reanalysis of the ``sympathetic witness''--a theory, popularized by Alice Miller, that children who overcome histories of abuse do so with the help of an adult who befriends them. But the Wolins suggest that it may be the abused child, shrewdly identifying grown-ups who may be supportive, who seeks out and befriends the adult. Although the authors don't explain fully why some abused children grow up to be healthy adults and some don't, they provide a broader base for thinking about the issue. A positive--if too gimmicky--spin for those who think of themselves as victims. (Diagrams--not seen)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-394-58357-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993




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