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Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience
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Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  425 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
The shark attacked while she was snorkeling, tearing through Micki Glenn’s breast and shredding her right arm. Her husband, a surgeon, saved her life on the spot, but when she was safely home she couldn’t just go on with her life. She had entered an even more profound survival journey: the aftermath.

The survival experience changes everything because it invalidates all your
ebook, 272 pages
Published September 10th 2012 by W. W. Norton Company
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Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Say you got lucky when that grizzly bear tried to eat you & he failed. You've been injured horribly but you're still alive. Or your boat sinks & you're adrift for days & your friends go crazy & get eaten by sharks, but you're rescued. What comes next? Do you ride off into the sunset & live happily ever after or are you emotionally scarred & suffering? This is a wonderful book. While it's not as anecdote-heavy as Deep Survival, it's almost just as good, an in-depth look at ...more
Johanna Rothman
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It doesn't matter if you have had an "event" or not. You should read this book.

Gonzales writes the drama of the events magnificently. You could read the book for that. And, where people have let him into their daily lives, post-event, where they cope with the loss, the day-to-day *living*, that is where the book shines.

I found great comfort in knowing I didn't have to "talk through" the craziness that happened to me. That sublimation was a great thing. In fact, he suggests
- Sublimation
- Altruism
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is beautiful, inspiring, heart breaking and powerful. What an incredible follow up to Deep Survival. There is a lot of science here but also incredible stories of unbelievable trauma and resilience. Some of their stories, particularly the survivor of the Nazi Death Brigade, brought me to tears. Gonzales is a deeply sensitive writer with a warrior's heart and a poet's eye.
Alisa Kester
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Completely fascinating. And if anything horrible has happened to destroy your life, this book might actually bring you genuine help and relief.

Loved the confirmation that state of consciousness my brain enters while I write is most like that of a state we normally enter only while asleep. Makes sense, because I certainly feel the *exact* same feeling of grogginess when I come out of writing, as when I come out of sleep. Also it's interesting that walking induces theta rhythms in the hippocampus
I picked up this book because I was very interested in the topic of how people recover (or don't) from traumatic, life-threatening events. I don't think Gonzales has more real answers to this question than could fill a long magazine article.
Full length review: http://perpetualspiralreviews.blogspo...
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book. The stories of the survivors are compelling and memorable. But what makes this book even more worth reading is the way in which Laurence Gonzales then uses these stories as a way to talk about the strategies these remarkable people used to deal with the ongoing memories of the traumas they had lived through. His explanations of how our brains (and bodies) deal with life after survival are fascinating. Best of all is the list of characteristics humans have developed to deal with l ...more
Jan 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
A very interesting book about what happens after surviving a traumatic event. Not limiting itself to PTSD, it explores coping, resilience, emotion and starting over with intense case studies and eloquent explanations based on neuroscience.

But Gonzales also makes a few dubious claims in his attempt to wax lyrical about the evolution and nature of being human. Without proper referencing it's hard to distinguish fact from fanciful and unsubstantiated musings.
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
** Living with while living on.**

There are those books you read that are intellectually satisfying, and those that are emotionally stimulating. This one is both!

Laurence Gonzales melds his incredible writing talent with his curiosity, compassion, and personal journey to bring grounding to the earth-shaking aftermath of trauma. His second book in exploring the impact of trauma, _Surviving Survival_ poignantly conveys how trauma recovery is not a matter of getting over, but of getting on:

Claudia Putnam
I'm not sure the 4-star rating would mean much to others. I got a lot out of this book, but it's mostly a synthetic project, which means that for each section there is original work that probably goes deeper and may be better rendered. However, this book delivers a lot of rich material in a convenient package that, for me, provided food for thought.

Such as:

How the sixth sense works--not as extrasensory, but as the underpinning of our senses, and often the key to our survival, if we can listen t
Christopher Brennan
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Man I wish I'd read this when I bought it. Or two years ago. Or last year. Still, glad I made time for it.
Katie Lynn
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Notes to self:
I had a lot marked in this book to review and contemplate more fully. Unfortunately a certain three-year-old boy I know decided it would be thrilling to remove many of my markers. sigh

Love this one on dreams:
"Dreams and dreamlike states are a real and necessary work space in many types of pursuits, because a vast landscape lies beneath our conscious, deliberate lives. ...It is as if we stand on the bow of a great ship with no idea who the captain is, nor what his intentions are, no
This book relies a little too heavily on lurid survivor stories. Even though it has some solid strategies for coping with and recovering from trauma, it often comes across as trauma porn. Over half of the book relies on the gory details of various personal disasters in order to drive home the idea that if these people can do this, so can you. It's fascinating, but also unfortunate that audiences have a taste for reading about others' pain for the shock value alone. Gonzalez seems to be well awar ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book on the psychology of trauma and surviving trauma goes beyond most action/survival/adventure stories to ask "What then?" What happens to the person after they survive? A shark attack, an attempted murder, war, a bear attack - all the survivors were left with trauma that needed to be healed or calmed. He relates useful information, and also explains the science of the nervous system and the brain in terms of trauma and healing. Fascinating, instructive, useful, and well written. I could ...more
Jason Stamp
Enjoyed the stories of real people mixed in but the book was a little heavy on the scientific explanations about what happens to the brain during and after trauma. Some of that was definitely helpful but there was a bit of an overload of information at times. I was having trouble trying to remember all these d the points in each chapter. Thankfully there are some good summaries in the last couple of chapters that put everything into nice concise lists. There are definitely some great points that ...more
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am obsessed with this book. I have already listened to the audio book a second time. It's a very well written book about a humans capacity for survival after tragic and often traumatizing events. The author explores people's stories from all walks of life and situations and how they got on with their lives after the survival event. I find it fascinating and would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Psychology , resilience and survival.
Jason Fryer
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An outstanding look at what makes some survivors more resilient than others with a lot more neuroscience and biology than I envisioned. Overall it was a fast and engrossing read and I highly recommend it for anyone who is curious about the topics of survival, specifically the mindset and aftermath of survival.
Jeanie Budge
Great book on how our minds and psyche deal with traumatic life experiences. I love the varying examples from emotional trauma to severe and debilitating physical trauma, or both.
November, 2012 -- A very practical and helpful -- immediately applicable! -- guide to how we survive and can thrive after traumatic injury. Full of stories of people who have endured horrific injury -- shark attack and military combat to name two -- and have taken small, specific, realistic steps to overcome all that they could. The balanced and realistic approach of Laurence Gonzales' book is refreshing -- there is no 'pop psych' here; no false hope. Highly recommended for trauma survivors as a ...more
Jan 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: survival story readers, behavioral therapists, how-to-succeed-in-business types
Shelves: survival
I picked up Surviving Survival because I enjoyed Gonzales' earlier book Deep Survival. While I have never been in a survival situation, I have been deeply disappointed. I have been profoundly affected by stories such as Touching the Void writer Joe Simpson’s. Simpson, for those who don’t know, made and executed a choice to go deeper into the glacier in which he was trapped. He had a broken leg at the time, which could have been a death sentence. "When you're going through hell, keep going" and a ...more
Alanna Jane
There is no question that this book is well written; it absolutely is. And yet, at this point (~1/3 finished), I am having a really hard time with it.

First, I have been through multiple traumas, and was diagnosed with PTSD several years ago (on top of chronic illness). Now, while the author clearly says that PTS(D) can be sourced from much more than war, the examples used for demonstration are so sensationalist that they essentially fall into the same category: over-the-top and violently extrem
Douglas Lord
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, your 40-foot yacht is going down, and five of you are stuck in a rubber life raft 300 miles off the coast of North Carolina with NOTHING. Or maybe your husband has shot you, and you've bled ten precious pints. This is a book about what happens after you've somehow lived through the shark ripping out your armpit, severing arteries and leaving a narrow flap of skin to hold your arm on. The survivor tales of these traumas (as well as large disasters like the torpedoing of the USS Indianapolis) ...more
Owen Spencer
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I benefitted greatly from reading this highly useful guide for coping with life's worst stressors. Although this book was written by a journalist (not a doctor, scientist, or mental health professional), it contains excellent insights and an abundance of information relevant to both professionals and the general public. I would highly recommend it to anyone working in the mental health field, or anyone struggling with serious problems in life (which is most people). I didn't agree with every sin ...more
Terrah Mayes
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so incredible. It explains the bodies response and the brains response. It kind of takes the stance of how when we watch a movie about a tragedy and then they roll the credits- then end of story- but about real life situations- okay we did we survived the impossible- now what? Essentially, it's asking and answering the question of, how do people move forward after they've survived a major trauma? How do people move forward after their lives are forever altered? It also discusses tru ...more
Libbet Bradstreet
Really interesting take on reintegration into society after trauma. Gonzales does a great job of formatting the book, dropping you right into the drama in a very compelling way. The pacing of the prose is also quite pivotal--and you never get bored. For me, the first two cases were the most fascinating (the first: a survivor of domestic abuse, the second: a woman having survived a vicious crocodile attack on vacation). Gonzales started to lose me with the Aron Ralston case. It might have just be ...more
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Laurence Gonzales' writing style immensely. He writes with a sense of immediacy that will keep you from putting down this book in favor of any other activity. This book was written as an amendment to his earlier book "Deep Survival" wherein he writes about extreme danger and the people involved in these events. This book, "Surviving . . ." is about what happens AFTER they survived: how did their life change, how do they cope with what has happened to them, the brain changes that took eff ...more
Paul Ewing
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder and you have the ability to read (the potential severity of the condition precludes some sufferers from reading), I highly recommend you read this book to cope with and then overcome the condition. If you know someone who has lost the battle with PTSD regardless of source--combat, spousal abuse, life-threatening illness, shark attack (seriously), death of a child, etc.--I encourage you to read this book to help your loved one. For psychologi ...more
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My curiosity got the better of me on this one. The idea of resilience being both art and science piqued my interest, so I picked it up and devoured it. I've actually been rereading it as there are aspects that seem to apply to my own life, and it's becoming kind of an instruction manual as I make my way through this relocation business.

The science is fascinating! He does a really good job of explaining the science, and offering examples of the science at work. It's rather interesting that, thou
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what can I say? I bought this book about 6 months ago and just now read it. I lost my brother about a month ago and I had hopes that this book would have some useful information and ideas on how to cope with my loss. For me, at this time in my life, this book is a treasure! The information within the book, as well as the riveting true tales of survival kept e hooked until the last page. Even though I may never get attacked by a shark, bear or have to survive a Nazi death camp this book was ...more
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About the time I was three fourths through with this book, someone I love was assaulted on the street. Thanks to information I learned from this book, I was a more effective and more understanding support person.

I came to Surviving Survival as a result of reading Gonzales' earlier work, Deep Survival. Both books have also been helpful to me in processing my own leftover feelings from past hurts as well as in facing the uncertainty of the future. Gonzales offers a powerful perspective.

I did find
Jake Wavra
The horrifying survival tales were quite interesting to read, ranging anywhere from grizzly attacks to Nazi concentration camps. This book also doubled as a crash course in advanced psychology, exploring the brain’s emotional capacity. The self-help advice for trauma recovery was somewhat redundant. I was disappointed that the author didn't expand more on the self—a person’s spirit. At times, it felt like he was reducing humanity to nothing more than electrical impulses and instinctual reactions ...more
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Laurence Gonzales is the author of Surviving Survival and the bestseller Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. He has won two National Magazine Awards. His essays are collected in the book House of Pain.
More about Laurence Gonzales...

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