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Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  190 ratings  ·  32 reviews
In the tradition of Po Bronson and Paul Tough, journalist Jim Rendon delivers a deeply reported look at the life-changing implications of post-traumatic growth—an emerging field of psychological research that shows how the suffering caused by traumatic events can be harnessed as a force for self-improvement and success rather than destruction.

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress
Kindle Edition, 289 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Touchstone
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Adrienne Pettinelli
As someone who's dealt with post-traumatic stress, I found this book riveting. I identified powerfully with so many of the stories, and they were really inspiring. It was interesting, too, to read about how psychologists are exploring and working with people after trauma and learning more how that impacts a life. It's very hopeful, and I do wish it were a little more out in the public consciousness that trauma is hard, yes, but it also doesn't have to ruin your life. It actually can wind up maki ...more
Meredith Holley
I'm super into trauma research right now. But, the books about post traumatic growth I've read are largely anecdotal and the advice is like, "maybe go to church or paint a picture?" Not very helpful. It's still a growing field, but so far the most helpful resources I've seen have been Peter Levine, Judith Herman, and Bessel van der Kolk.

This one: meh.
Green Heart Guidance
(I am reviewing an Advance Reader Copy of this book won through Goodreads’ First Reads program.)

I came to Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth by Jim Rendon as a woman who has endured PTSD caused by multiple sources: abuse, childbirth, health trauma, and if you believe in past lives, World War II. I have been able to achieve major healing with most of my wounds through alternative therapies; conventional therapy was only serving to retraumatize me. Yet as someone with a Ph.D., I have
H'Sien Hayward
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rendon's "Upside" isn't just a "goodread"; it is FANTASTIC! As a psychological scientist and practitioner, I hold a high bar for works that translate scientific constructs into popular press prose. This book not only meets that bar; it far exceeds it. He treats the case studies sensitively yet insightfully, and brings to life over a decades worth of research. I will recommend this book to my fellow researchers who would benefit from a more nuanced representation of trauma outcomes, as well as to ...more
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply put, an amazing book. The way Rendon achieves the delicate balance between scientific rigor and highly readable writing should be sought after by other authors. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
Unremarkable observations about how being positive and having community can help with post-traumatic growth.
Nov 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great deal of admiration for Jim Rendon's project here. The title, however, is a bit misleading, this is not a book written by a researcher or focused on the science of PT-Growth. It is, however, good if you're looking for this topic couched in human stories. ...more
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life changing....
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: healing, self-help, abuse
It's hard to find the research in the midst of the endless narrative. I got more from the table of contents than I did from looking through the book. It reads like a stream of anecdotes and the research is handled mostly in passing. I guess what I mean is that this book was not what I wanted. Maybe it works for others, but I was pretty disappointed. The title was so good and I thought I'd get a solid discussion of the current science on post-traumatic growth. Not so much. ...more
Aimee Barnes Pestano
Post-traumatic stress disorder haunts my family of origin through several generations. Growing up, we used to call it "shell shock." I was attracted to "Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth" for its silver lining on a complicated diagnosis. Rendon provides hope for the millions who suffer, as well as for their loved ones, by emphasizing the radical positive changes many make on their route to healing, thereby altering the trajectories of their lives to a path more purposeful and subs ...more
Over recent years there has been a focus on understanding the negative effects of trauma, especially PTSD. What has been forgotten is the positive effects that traumatic and difficult experiences can have on us- so called post traumatic growth. Jim Readon provides and entertaining and well written summary on the positive effects of challenge and trauma. The book tends to get bogged down near the end and some of the stories become long winded. Generally a good book, and well worth reading.
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Not being an expert in the field of psychology, this is the first time I have heard of this branch of thought and practice with trauma. This may be a type of pop psychology, but it seems fairly realistic.

“Upside: The New Science of Post Traumatic Growth” is not a “think positive and life will all fall into line with you” type book. It’s a fairly in depth look at how some emerge from trauma with greater strength and appreciation for life.

The author, Jim Rendon, details the hallmarks of people w
Rendon is not a scientist, not a doctor, not a therapist. He is a journalist, here reporting on something he's seen happening, a burgeoning movement within therapeutic communities for dealing with PTSD in a different, growth-encouraging way. Basically, the book explores the adage "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger" with personal stories, testimonials, examples, research, and results from people involved in looking into why this works, when it works, and for whom. I personally engaged with t ...more
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A heart-warming journey into how tragedy can change lives.

Jim Rendon is a masterful storyteller who takes the compelling personal journeys that people experience and captures the reader’s heart and mind. He helps us understand how some people are able to take personal tragedy and make a new life out of the most difficult experiences imaginable. A wonderful read that will keep you hooked. When it’s over you know so much more about what post-traumatic growth can do to change a life.
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. It got better with every chapter and all the way up to the last words;
"If I could go back twenty years and choose not to get in that car [accident]...." She pauses for just a beat, as if she's considering it again, thinking over what she lost that day and what she has gained since, "...I wouldn't change it, " she says, "I would still do it. "
It's frightening and empowering.
Oct 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I work in the field of psychology so I’m somewhat in the know on this subject although it’s not my particular field of expertise. This book definitely brings up some points that make sense even from my personal experiences. I found this book to be really interesting even though it was a bit of a heavy read.
Michael L
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great examples of how perspective can change outlook.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the research and the way this book was written.
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very readable review of the research and stories behind post-traumatic growth.
Matthew Green
Inspiring summary, though lacking detail

Rendon's summary of post-traumatic growth is a bit mixed. On the one hand, he's providing a nice sketch of the research in a very readable format, and the principles that he provides are fairly concrete and applicable, assuming you're in a traumatic circumstance or dealing with someone who is. I like the way he presented the matters that can contribute to growth in nice, broad strokes while providing personal examples of how they play out.
On the other han
Chris Torretta
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The idea that your brain can change is a pretty new one, scientifically speaking. For many years people thought that once the brain was formed that was it; you are stuck with what you have. Now, people are starting to really accept and encourage training your brain and in many cases re-training.

This book talks about neuroplasticity. In it's basest meaning it is about changing how you think. If you are a depressive person (I am!) then having negative thoughts may just seem like a part of your day
Bill Brazell
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a terrific book. Thoughtful, well-researched, and built on harrowing stories of real people. The author is a friend of mine, but that doesn't affect my appreciation of what he's done here. The subjects of this book have undergone the kind of losses the rest of us walk around fearing -- loss of the ability to concentrate, to speak in a way that others can understand, to walk -- and the worst loss of all: The loss of one's child. The author listened closely to many people who have undergone t ...more
Lucille Zimmerman
For the past three years I've been researching this topic. I'm an author too.

I had researched many books and professional journals and finally wrote my book. I'm not sure whether I will publish traditionally or self publish this book. Two days after I sent my book to an editor I came across this book and immediately ordered. I read it the moment it arrived, almost in one sitting.

It was completely gratifying to find the same exact research as my book, and the author's conclusions, which mirrore
Rebecca Waring-Crane
I've heard the term "post-traumatic growth" before but wanted to know more about it. Rendon gave me a solid foundation for the research that birthed the term and explored the stories of individuals who experienced it after personal trauma.

The careful research, engaging tone, and diverse life stories made the book an easy read. Most of the stories involved people who experienced severe physical trauma, however the way each person moved toward recovery and growth speaks to anyone coping with signi
Scott Thompson
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Inspiration for Survivors

This book provides great insight into the struggles of trauma and the rewards of living through them. The stories, the research, and the grit illustrated in this book are all well organized for a read that is appropriate for any audience. I really enjoyed the vast array of emotions that this book took me through and now understand my own survival story with greater accuracy and appreciation.
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written, well-structured coverage of recent research into PTSD triggered by a range of different life-changing events with a primary focus on how severe trauma can (in some people and in certain circumstances and using certain strategies) become the catalyst for personal growth and finding new meaning.
Oct 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trauma-violence
This is the least evocative book on trauma that I've read lately, but the gist is important: that trauma does not always lead to permanently damage, but given the right support systems and adaptive coping, it can set the stage for post-traumatic growth. ...more
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you GoodReads for my copy of Upside. I think that many will find the stories inspiring.
Aug 30, 2015 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adrienne Furness's review
Shelves: nonfiction
The one copy of this in DC is checked out right now.
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too long and redundant. The most important points could have been conveyed in a long magazine article. I got tired reading the unnecessarily detailed and often repetitive personal stories.
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