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What Doesn't Kill Us: The New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth Hardcover – November 1, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Terry Waite CBE
“We live in a world in which suffering is endemic.  In this book Stephen Joseph sounds a hopeful note.  Suffering need not destroy.”

Robert J. Wicks, Professor, Loyola University Maryland, and author of Bounce: Living the Resilient Life
What Doesn’t Kill Us seamlessly combines needed inspiration and the most advanced information about the new psychology of posttraumatic growth for those who have experienced great suffering.  Stephen Joseph, one of the leading experts in the world on trauma, resilience, and growth, offers both compelling stories and practical information.  What Doesn’t Kill Us is a book of wisdom—both for those who have undergone great stress as well as for those who love and treat them.  It is psychology at its best: honest, hopeful, helpful, and based on sound serious research.  Reading it makes me proud to be a psychologist.”
 
John Harvey, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Iowa
“In What Doesn’t Kill Us, Stephen Joseph brings his expertise as one of the world’s most prolific and influential scholars of trauma and over two decades of clinical experience to bear in producing a literate and compelling book on growth from and through adversity.  The book is replete with powerful story-lines of people who persevered in the face of great pain and loss:  From Michael J. Fox to Viktor Frankl we learn how survivors lived Nietzsche's dictum of what doesn't kill you can make you stronger.  Joseph gives voice to the non-famous and famous alike as he tells stories of survival and thriving, both in personal and global crises.  All the while, the book is highly educational about the dynamics of posttraumatic growth and related concepts. It is a rare feat to produce a book that will appeal and be useful to the general public, as well as scholars and practitioners. Joseph has done so.”
 
Mick Cooper, Professor of Counseling, University of Strathclyde
“Beautifully written, drawing on leading-edge scientific research to reveal one of humankind's noblest qualities: the capacity to find meaning and growth in the face of near-unbearable suffering.”
 
Elaine Iljon Foreman, author of Fly Away Fear: Overcoming Your Fear of Flying
“Convincingly challenging, highly enlightening, and compulsively readable, What Doesn’t Kill Us is thoroughly recommended for both those who have and have not experienced trauma.  A transformational new perspective.”
 
Elaine Fox, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at University of Essex
What Doesn’t Kill Us is an insightful and entertaining account of the new psychology of resilience. Stephen Joseph brilliantly combines personal anecdote with cutting edge psychology to explain why all of us have the capacity to triumph over adversity. A must read if you ever wondered why most of us rebound so well after disaster, What Doesn’t Kill Us is an invaluable guide for anyone wanting to know how to cope with trauma.”
 
Richard Bentall, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool
“In this fascinating book, Stephen Joseph maps out the rarely explored positive consequences of trauma, reminding us that growth is possible even in the most adverse circumstances. Although essential reading for clinicians working with traumatized patients, What Doesn’t Kill Us is so accessibly written that it should appeal to anyone interested in the human condition.”
 
Vaughan Bell, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London
“In an area beset by wishful thinking, Stephen Joseph makes the scientific case for how difficult times can lead to personal growth.  What Doesn’t Kill Us is a well argued and well evidenced challenge to the idea that trauma is necessarily a curse.”
 
Publishers Weekly
“Informative and thoughtful.”
 
Kirkus Reviews
“A sure-to-be-controversial, provocative challenge to prevailing wisdom on how to deal with stress.”
 
New York Journal of Books
What Doesn’t Kill Us is accessible for all readers….Well worth the time to read, digest, and utilize in one’s daily life.”

Donald Meichenbaum, PhD Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and Research Director of the Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment of Victims of Violence, Miami, Florida
"Traumatised individuals have a story to tell, as well as re-author. Professor Stephen Joseph is compassionate, attentive listener and a sensitive and scholarly conveyer of this narrative process. He has ably blended his many years of research and clinical practice into an enlightened story of post traumatic growth. This a book that should be read by all who encountered trauma and those who love and treat them. Kudos to Professor Joseph for providing a needed new direction for the treatment of those who experience [posttraumatic stress disorder] and related challenges. This book is a clarion call for a Constructive Narrative Perspective to psychotherapy, filled with pathos and hope."

Dr Gill Hicks MBE, survivor of the London Bombings, July 7, 2005
"What Doesn't Kill Us - indeed does and can make us stronger as brilliantly presented by Professor Stephen Joseph and lived throughout my every day."

Dr Kate Hefferon, Senior Lecturer, University of East London and author of Positive Psychology: Theory, research and applications
"This is the book we have been waiting for Stephen Joseph to write. With decades of experience and knowledge, Joseph presents the wonderfully complex world of posttraumatic growth in an accessible and personable way. Not only does the book provide the most-up-to-date research, What Doesn't Kill Us offers tangible approaches to developing growth after trauma; a feat that will be valued by many."

Dr Nigel Hunt, Associate Professor in Health Psychology, University of Nottingham
"This is a caring and thoughtful account, arguing for the normality of post-traumatic stress as a process of adaptation. Professor Joseph presents a personal and positive perspective, showing how people can come through painful experiences and live fulfilling lives . . . His THRIVE model provides a coherent approach to helping traumatised people."

Stephen Regel, Honorary Associate Professor/Co-Director Centre for Trauma, Resilience and Growth, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham
"Stephen Joseph’s book is inspirational and, not just for the lay reader but also for all therapists, regardless of their theoretical orientation, as trauma in inherent part of their work. It goes far beyond the narrow confines of current clinical approaches to working with trauma and posttraumatic stress and challenges all clinicians to think about what we actually say and do in the consulting room. He takes us along the path of post traumatic growth as an experienced and perceptive guide, opening up many new thought provoking therapeutic possibilities and avenues to facilitate post traumatic growth rather than merely deal with symptomatic change. His chapter on signposts to the facilitation of growth following adversity, through the acronym THRIVE has a simple elegance that everyone can adopt in our current uncertain times. To say that it is essential reading would be an understatement. It is essential as a survival guide to life."

Nature
"Tsunamis, assault, near-death accidents: such experiences are popularly imagined to scar victims 'for life' and leave them in thrall to post-traumatic stress disorder. After two decades of research, positive psychologist Stephen Joseph argues that, for many, these traumas can become an “engine for transformation”. Backed by case studies, he covers trauma's emotional toll, the underlying biology, the realities of resilience and the array of therapies on offer, such as trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy. This is a thorough and common-sense look at the psychology of survival."

About the Author

Stephen Joseph is Professor of Psychology, Health, and Social Care at the University of Nottingham, UK, where he codirects the Center for Trauma, Resilience, and Growth. He lives in Nottingham, United Kingdom.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465019412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465019410
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Joseph, Ph.D., is a professor in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham where he is convener for the counselling and psychotherapy group. His scholarly research interests include positive psychology, psychotherapy and psychological trauma. His latest book, What Doesn't Kill Us (Basic Books) was released in paperback in 2013.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By David M on December 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Joseph's new book "What doesn't kill us: The new psychology of post traumatic growth" is excellent. What this book does is take the concept of trauma, often associated with the medical style mental illness of PTSD, and shows us that there is far more to understanding people's responses than we routinely acknowledge. The idea that a process of growth can be activated by the distress following a trauma is simply brilliant. The case studies in the book have such a `ring of truth' that, at times, made me feel as though I was reading about myself.
One thing I loved about this book was the way in which the case studies really bring to life how, even after significant trauma, there can be hope and optimism for the future. More than this, I was left feeling as though what the author was saying was that the changes that can follow as a result of struggling with the response to trauma may lead to even greater levels of functioning in the person. The constant recognition of the distress that people experience with the hope for a fuller life afterwards is inspiring. This places Joseph's book in the `to be taken seriously' end of the positive psychology spectrum; he shows us that human suffering is often a part of life that we will have to encounter yet there can be benefits at the end of a long struggle. The realism and humanity of the accounts are also deeply respectful of people's traumatic experiences.
This book would be a really excellent companion for anyone who has experienced a traumatic event and/or finds themselves struggling to make sense of it, for anyone supporting a family member who has been traumatised or those working with traumatised people professionally.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By VictoriaLeo_author on April 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So many people don't understand this topic. You say that you gained something valuable from a tragedy and people want to haul you off to a shrink. And then the psych establishment misunderstands in the other way - more tragic and less forgivable as they really should know better than to re-victimize the victim - to batter you to death if you DON'T see any gain, if you're just plain angry, despairing or some other unacceptable emotion. This guy does neither. He shows who has post-traumatic gain and who doesn't - and it's not a contest for Who's Best. You see the patterns, understand the dynamics and come away with a huge dose of compassion for all involved. Very highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By marilyn on December 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
An excellent read! i found this book useful, informative and very encouraging. An important subject which is very sensitively examined by joseph and offers hope for a wide range of situations related to trauma. It also demystifies a lot of psycholoigcal info and enjoyable to read. I couldn't put it down!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By dorothy haynes on February 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
I felt it was written more for therapists, than the lay person, also I was disappointed
not to see some of the symptoms I have had not mentioned in the book.
THERE WAS ALOT OF POSITIVE EXCERSISES IN THE BACK OF THE BOOK, WHICH i AM SURE WILL BE VERY HELPFUL.

(not the authors fault but was disconcerting to see the references to Lance Armstrong knowing what we now know.).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Kearney on November 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a good intro to PTG, however it's fairly "once over lightly" and won't provide a great deal of new insight to someone that has spent a bit of time surfing the net and reading around the material there. That said, it does provide a nice overview, and ties a number of useful ideas together.

A good primer for those that work with those facing adversity.
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23 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Guy Lamunyon on December 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stephen Joseph has presented research evidence that more people exposed to traumatic events had POSITIVE responses than developed PTSD.

In his own study of a tour ship disaster 43 percent had reported their lives changed for the better (but 46 percent reported their lives change for the worse). Also, 73 percent were drinking more, 44 percent were smoking more, 40 percent were taking sleeping pills, 28 percent were taking antidepressants and 21 percent were taking tranquilizers (page 9). I do not call this a positive outcome; this data represents a dramatic increase in polysubstance abuse for these victims.

He also cites a study of the general population after 911 with 58 percent reporting one or more positive outcome(s) from the events of 911 (page 75). Watching TV does not cause PTSD ! ! !

He presents his own theory, THE BROKEN VASE THEORY and cites most modern psychologists, Lance Armstrong, The Wizard of Oz and other popular figures to validate his theory.

He then describes an 8 - 12 session model of treatment, Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) using reframing, EMDR, desensitization and other cognitive interventions but presents to outcome data for this treatment.

Progress in treatment is measured by the Psychological Well-Being Post-Traumatic Changes Questionnaire (PWB-PTCQ) without any evidence of validity for the instrument.

There was no attempt to explain WHY one group has a positive outcome and one group has a negative outcome.

He cites one interview by him of a soldier who had served in the Falklands War, otherwise his remark are from civilian trauma such as auto accidents, rape and breast cancer victims.

There is no data to prove/validate his theory.

It is nice to know there are some positive outcomes from trauma.

Guy C. Lamunyon MSN, RN
US Army Psych Mental Health Nurse - Retired
Glamunyon@aol.com
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