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on November 26, 2003
Pearsall is Hawaiian, and he combines insights from his native culture, his personal experience with extreme challenge, and the wisdom of the emerging field of Positive Psychology. He contends that we can choose and/or learn how to be "thrivers," i.e to move beyond victim or even recovery status, and experience "Stress Induced Growth". We can grow and be transformed through the pain and suffering of our lives.
He cites many examples from his interviews, of people who have indeed experienced what an outsider might call horrific experiences-- and shows how their unique perspective (which he assures us is learnable) has let them create a "good life" despite their problems.
Pearsall cites more scientific research that substantiates his position, so the reader who wants "hard data" can follow his references.
This is a useful and even inspiring contribution to the Positive Psychology literature -- I gave it a "4" because I wearied of Pearsall's frequent references to his own (significant) crisis experiences. IMHO, the point was made without repeating his personal credentials as a thriver every page or two.
Is it worth reading? Absolutely.
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on December 13, 2004
After hearing Dr. Pearsall at a conference in Kauai last year, I was so inspired by his keynote presentation that I immediately ordered "The Beethoven Factor" and "Toxic Success."

I began reading "The Beethoven Factor" as soon as I returned home. I devoured the first half, and found its philosophy exceptionally meaningful to me personally. That said, I never finished the book, putting it back on the shelf half read.

Pearsall began rambling and repeating, and my annoyance sent clear signals that I couldn't finish the book and thrive at the same time :-) Boredom drove me to another selection in my pile of "read this next" books.

Last week, I began reading "Toxic Success." That one's a horse of a different color. I'm nearly done with it, and must tell you that it is wonderful, exceeding my wildest expectations! Dr. Pearsall is truly brilliant, but I think his brain got stuck midway through Beethoven's Fifth!
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on January 29, 2005
I read this book, excited to hear someone talking about how pyschology can be used to study more than just dysfunction. However, as other reviewers have poited out, the author repeats himself unecessarily throughout the book. He also uses anecdotal evidence almost exclusively--which means most of his conclusions or platitudes with little impact.

The book Authentic Happines by Martin Seligman is a much better place to turn if you're interested in positive psychology.
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on January 7, 2004
I heard the author on the radio and bought the book. What makes this book unique is its attempt to dispute all of these "facts" about psychology and health in general. Alot of what is taken as fact by the health community is actually in dispute. If I had to sum up what I learned it would be: 1.Disease and evil exist for a reason in the world and these problems can be used for our benefit. 2. Our reaction to what happens to us is what determines happiness not how much we have compared to others. 3. Having the personality of a thriver will give you health benefits far in excess of traditional measures such as lowering your cholesterol or going to the gym. This book will really open your eyes and its filled with unforgettable stories.
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on February 7, 2012
The author's key point is that we can consciously modify our explanatory system, construe meaning out of adversities and rise above them. I benefited from reading the book. However, it is not a well organized book. The author unnecessarily repeated himself multiple times. I spent quite some time reading through the book but often found same ideas scattered all over the book. I wish the author could organize his ideas more clearly and concisely.

In addition, the font is smaller than regular books, so it is not very comfortable to read. If the author didn't repeat himself multiple times, he should have been able to say what he wanted to say more concisely thus could use larger font.

The book is organized into two parts.

In part 1, the author described five phases of coping with crisis (worsening, victimizing, surviving, recovering, and thriving). Then he pointed out characteristics of thrivers. He also emphasized the difference between positive psychology and pathology based psychology. Moreover he described a curriculum for students studying "thriviology".

In part 2: the thriver's manual. The author discussed the four charactors of thrivers: hardiness, happiness, healing, and hope. In my opinion, the meat of the book is mainly between pg 130-230.
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on June 16, 2016
Personally, I loved this book. After having experienced a major trauma in my own life, this book offered me a way of choosing how to deal with it in a way that was genuine and helped me thrive through it. I am so grateful to have found this book.
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on February 10, 2006
A book full of cliches, with little original insight into the composer. Of course, it seems the author's intention really is not to study the composer's life. The way he renders Beethoven's personal dynamic is bested by three other authors: first, Maynard Solomons' classic BEETHOVEN; then J.W.N. Sullivan's great BEETHOVEN'S SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT; and more recently Carter J. Gregory's historico-fiction, MY ANGEL LEONORA. These are more inspired, but Pearsall is still worth it.

Todd Hermance
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on December 1, 2003
This is a terrible, unreadable book. I'm not surprised it had problems getting published. It reads like a manuscript that was submitted that needed heavy editing and the author refused. There are long incoherent sentences and the author repeats himself over and over. At some point he starts criticizing the food pyramid and mentions in a very sinister way that it was developed by a senate committee overseen by Senator George McGovern. Huh? And PS: Beethoven wasn't happy.
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on November 30, 2003
I expected a lot more profundity about this topic. There are much better works out there than this. The book is evidence that one cannot assume that because a writer has many books published that hey keep getting better, ofthen the revers as here where the audience in mind is simple people who find worn out bromides helpful. Try angel dust insted.
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