Supernormal: The Untold Story of Resilience

Meg Jay. Twelve, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4555-5915-2
Clinical psychologist Jay (The Defining Decade) makes an “empathic choice” on behalf of resilient people, defined here as those who exhibit “unexpected competence” despite traumatic experiences. She challenges the idea that such people are damaged and abnormal by redefining them as “supernormal” heroes. Jay shares stories collected from celebrity memoirs alongside the stories of her own clients. Though Jay provides a strong enough overview of the current scholarship on responses to adversity to make this a solid pop-psychology text, her real target readers are not fans of the genre but the resilient themselves. Her messages to them include the following: therapy is good and not shameful, rewriting our own stories is powerful, and being at risk is not the same as being destined to fail. Jay keeps up the superhero conceit throughout the book, giving her subjects “origin stories,” framing their responses to stress as “fighting the good fight,” and calling traumatic surprises from the past “kryptonite,” but she never lets her framework get in the way of her message. Instead, she uses her theme to help make the people whose stories she shares more relatable, in the way that children, especially children in difficult situations, look to their fictional heroes for affinity and affirmation. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 07/24/2017
Release date: 11/14/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-9386-5
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