The End of Trauma: How the New Science of Resilience Is Changing How We Think About PTSD
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With “groundbreaking research on the psychology of resilience” (Adam Grant), a top expert on human trauma argues that we vastly overestimate how common PTSD is in and fail to recognize how resilient people really are.

After 9/11, mental health professionals flocked to New York to handle what everyone assumed would be a flood of trauma cases. Oddly, the flood never came.

In The End of Trauma, pioneering psychologist George A. Bonanno argues that we failed to predict the psychological response to 9/11 because most of what we understand about trauma is wrong. For starters, it’s not nearly as common as we think. In fact, people are overwhelmingly resilient to adversity. What we often interpret as PTSD are signs of a natural process of learning how to deal with a specific situation. We can cope far more effectively if we understand how this process works. Drawing on four decades of research, Bonanno explains what makes us resilient, why we sometimes aren’t, and how we can better handle traumatic stress.

Hopeful and humane, The End of Trauma overturns everything we thought we knew about how people respond to hardship.

11 reviews for The End of Trauma: How the New Science of Resilience Is Changing How We Think About PTSD

  1. Mary
    October 12, 2023
    Great update of research in the area
    Well done. Insightful look at history of ptsd and personality. Great case studies. Author’s model very helpful. Highly recommend.
    Helpful? 0 0
    Alan R. Crews
    August 28, 2023
    5.0 out of 5 stars Read before the next trauma and resulting stress?!
    Life is traumatic, that is a fact that is born out by history ( both personal and societal). Flexibility and resiliency are a path through! I have see...More
    Life is traumatic, that is a fact that is born out by history ( both personal and societal). Flexibility and resiliency are a path through! I have seen it personally, both in myself and others close to me. I have seen it in society in dealing with epidemics, mother nature and wars. Now I will quote something from a movie " never give up, never surrender " and a song lyric " break on through to the other side" and hope that it may be the mindset that helps you through... this book has some helpful tools.
    Helpful? 0 0
    Kevin Fulton
    December 22, 2022
    5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Researched and Accessible
    The End of Trauma serves as a fantastic introduction to research on trauma. In short, all of us, including children, are much more resilient to trauma...More
    The End of Trauma serves as a fantastic introduction to research on trauma. In short, all of us, including children, are much more resilient to trauma to pop culture would lead you to believe.
    After 9/11, only around 7.5% of Manhattan residents met criteria for PTSD, if they lived near the World Trade Center, that rate rose to 20%. This means that ~80% of people who experienced an incredibly stressful, negative event did not develop PTSD. And, 6 month later, most PTSD symptoms had resolved.

    A similar pattern is found when looking at soldiers with severe combat exposure where 81% showed a resilience trajectory, meaning that their responses to the potentially traumatic events tended to follow a pattern of chronic symptoms, followed by gradual recovery, and then resilience.

    The book does an excellent job of accessibly explaining the research and then of showing a real-life application as someone navigates through a potentially traumatic event. He defines a potentially traumatic event as an event that is painful and disturbing and claims (with good evidence) that the best way to process potentially traumatic events is to put on a "flexibility mindset."

    A flexibility mindset has three key components:
    1. Optimism about the future
    2. Confidence in our ability to cope
    3. Willingness to think about the threat as a challenge

    These components are complementary so their sum is greater than their parts. The rest of the book delves into the nitty gritty in an engaging manner. If you are interested in trauma, check this book out.
    Helpful? 0 0
    SimplyL
    September 7, 2022
    5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
    Worth the read
    Helpful? 0 0
    Teebs
    July 31, 2022
    5.0 out of 5 stars Life changing
    As a clinician, this book is a heaven sent! The prose flows well and information is packed in an engaging way for readers. The book got me pondering h...More
    As a clinician, this book is a heaven sent! The prose flows well and information is packed in an engaging way for readers. The book got me pondering how I define resilience, and how resilience manifests for several people. I have learned many new things about resilience, and I cannot recommend this book enough for fellow therapists, students, and humans.
    Helpful? 0 0
    Dickie Harper
    May 4, 2022
    A really important book for our time
    This book was a very timely addition to the mountain of literature and press pushing at the prevalence of PTSD within the general population. This boo...More
    This book was a very timely addition to the mountain of literature and press pushing at the prevalence of PTSD within the general population. This book succinctly dispels that idea without minimising the awfulness of those who do suffer from the long term effects of chronic PTSD.
    Thank you to Bonanno for highlighting the resilience of the human race - with his decades of robust research backing up his arguments.
    This is a hopeful and uplifting book and everyone should read it.
    Helpful? 0 0
    Monica Borschel
    December 27, 2021
    5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and easy to read
    I really enjoyed this book and thought about it for weeks afterwards. I thought about my own potential traumatic incidents and if I had a flexibility ...More
    I really enjoyed this book and thought about it for weeks afterwards. I thought about my own potential traumatic incidents and if I had a flexibility mindset at the time. The research is thorough but easy to read and understand. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in psychology, human emotions, struggling with mental health, has a family member or friend struggling with mental health. I have thought long about the flexibility mindset and how it would be useful for any kind of life stress, during conflict and how I can use it in therapy models with my clients. Thank you for writing this book, truly a game changer.
    Helpful? 0 0
    R. Wallace
    November 15, 2021
    5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and important book
    The End of Trauma is helpful in improving life skills for any difficult situation. Bonanno explains what works in overcoming and responding to trauma,...More
    The End of Trauma is helpful in improving life skills for any difficult situation. Bonanno explains what works in overcoming and responding to trauma, based on science--including his own considerable research. Also, compelling real-life stories keep the pages turning. The case studies support the research. I have faced a lot of difficult challenges in my 62 years, but nothing like the challenges faced by the people in this book. If they can succeed, so can I. And so can you. Must read for the general public and psychologists/social workers. In fact, I know what I am giving two professional counselors that I know for Christmas this year.
    Helpful? 0 0
    S. Cavanagh
    November 5, 2021
    5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling research and gripping narrative writing
    Being familiar with (and a great admirer of) George's long and impressive research career, I anticipated being impressed by the insights and thoughtfu...More
    Being familiar with (and a great admirer of) George's long and impressive research career, I anticipated being impressed by the insights and thoughtfulness of this book. I was not disappointed.

    I was not prepared for how excellent the writing is though - often the preciseness demanded by good social science work against fluency and creativity. Not so here. The narrative details are shockingly good. Quite fitting with the book's thesis, Bonanno vividly paints portraits of trauma while deftly side-stepping some of the sensationalism that I find mar so many books on trauma.

    The chapter of three interwoven first-person narratives of 9-11 in particular is an award-deserving piece of writing.
    Helpful? 0 0
    Joshua E.
    October 28, 2021
    5.0 out of 5 stars Flexibility is Key
    The author, Bonanno, does a great job with this book where the flexibility mindset and sequence are highlighted as it relates to trauma. Indeed, traum...More
    The author, Bonanno, does a great job with this book where the flexibility mindset and sequence are highlighted as it relates to trauma. Indeed, trauma is not an easy diagnosis and the reality of PTSD isn’t easy, either. However, the author does a great job in writing in very relatable ways, especially about physiological aspects related to trauma, given that this is such a difficult topic for so many people. If you or someone you care about might benefit from this book, please don’t hesitate to recommend it, read it, and embody it.
    Helpful? 0 0
    Ashley Greenwell, PhD
    October 13, 2021
    5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Hopeful, and rooted in science
    When we are really struggling, we naturally grasp for quick validation and simple solutions (which exist abundantly in most trauma books these days); ...More
    When we are really struggling, we naturally grasp for quick validation and simple solutions (which exist abundantly in most trauma books these days); but on some level, I think we all know that healing from trauma is much more complicated. It's easy to lose sight of that when we're deeply hurting and just want the pain to stop. The author clearly reminds us that resilience is not the absence of suffering or a trauma response, but the ability to move through it to find meaning again. To that end, Dr. Bonanno offers nuanced, specific guidance for authentic resilience. He reminds us that it's not that any coping skill is inherently good or bad, but how that skill interacts with the context and your goals is key. There is conceptual overlap with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Principles on psychological flexibility, but this book stands on its own as a powerful guide for managing the inevitable hardships in life.

    In contrast to current social norms, one critique is that this book tends to examine trauma and recovery from the individual rather than the social justice lens. While this lends agency back to the survivor for recovery, some may take issue trauma response is laid mostly at the feet of the victim. I agree with the other reviewer that forms of betrayal trauma (which are incredibly common) could have been utilized as examples. Also, the ambiguity of drawing a line between normative human suffering and a "disorder" is not directly addressed but a key underlying theme.

    All in all, it is a highly engaging book that stands above most other writing on this issue. I have already recommended it to several clients and it has enhanced my practice.
    Helpful? 0 0
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