Book Review: Upside: The New Science of Post Traumatic Growth by Jim Rendon

August 15, 2015 Blog, Book Reviews, Spring 2

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Upside: The New Science of Post Traumatic Growth by Jim RendonUpside by Jim Rendon
Published by Touchstone on 2015-08-04
Genres: Healing, Health & Fitness, Mental Health, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Psychology, Psychopathology
Pages: 288
Source: NetGalley
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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 Disorder, is at the center of national conversation and a widely recognized psychological condition. But an equally valid, though lesser known outcome of trauma is post-traumatic growth. While many survivors suffer long-term emotional damage, over the last several decades psychologists have discovered that with the right circumstances and proper support, survivors can actually emerge from their trauma stronger, more focused, and with a new and clear vision for the future. In fact, as many as two-thirds of trauma survivors report positive changes—far more than suffer from PTSD. But how can terrible events lead to remarkable and dramatic breakthroughs? Upside seeks to answer this question by taking a deep-dive look at this burgeoning new field of study. Comprised of interviews with leading researchers and dozens of trauma survivors, Rendon paints a vivid and comprehensive portrait of this groundbreaking field. With accessible language, prescriptive takeaways, and specific tools to promote positive responses to trauma, this book is perfect for anyone interested in the ways that traumatic events shape people. It is particularly useful for trauma survivors or their loved ones seeking a more hopeful and positive future.

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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. Six years ago every thought I had about myself, my environment, and the people around me were all negative. EVERY thought. This book delves in how you can change your thoughts to be more positive. Changing your thoughts, and ultimately changing your brain, will change your life!

I always highlight as I read because I want to be able to go back and write about the highlights. I have SO many highlights in this that I do not even know where to begin! There are many different authors that are recommended and books that delve even deeper into the idea of plasticity and growing through trauma. Being someone that has quite a bit of trauma in my past I can see how the growth process works and how important it is to have a light at the end of the tunnel.

Social psychology and many in that field had identified something called positive reframing – applying positive meaning to negative events as means of coping with the trauma.

This book is not full of scientific jargon either. It is filled with real world anecdotes and people that have studied and have been affected by trauma. What led me to read this is my current obsession with PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, and how people can start coping and dealing with trauma in their lives and that is exactly what this book is about; dealing with your past traumas to get to the growth that is ahead.

Jim Rendon talks about super heroes and their transformations to do good after they witness a horrific crime. Normally it is their parents death that leads them to fight evil. This one event helps to shape the person that they become. Teddy Roosevelt was a man that was afflicted with a horrible event when his mother and wife died within hours of each other. He couldn’t cope with it so he, much like these superheroes, decided to fight crime! He took this adversity and changed it to a positive.

This book is about not only surviving but thriving. It takes time to learn and grow after a traumatic event but it can be done. And when it is done the person facing the trauma is more aware and can look at the trauma as a good experience.

In short: This book was fascinating and very easy to understand.




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2 Responses to “Book Review: Upside: The New Science of Post Traumatic Growth by Jim Rendon”

  1. Karen Blue

    I saw this book and didn’t pick it up because, well, it is a trigger topic for me. I was worried it would be useless. I am elated you thought it was a good read. I will probably pick it up now. Thanks for the great review!
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    • Christina

      It does have some parts that are seriously serious but it is ALL about moving through, appreciating, and accepting trauma! It blew me away! With my background (sexual & emotional abuse) I was worried but really, it’s amazing! Let me know if you do get it and what you think!