by Boris Cyrulnik

Jeremy P. Tarcher, $14.95, 320 pages

There is hope in the idea that our past does not define our future.  For those who have suffered trauma, it is a major step in the healing process to accept that pain does not equal destiny. Within our bodies we possess an inner strength called resilience. These ideas are the foundation of French psychoanalist Boris Cyrulnik’s book titled Resilience: How Your Inner Strength Can Set You Free from the Past.  The first section gives a scattered history of trauma. Cyrulnik provides examples of historical figures who survived abuse and uses quotes from authors such as Dickens whose characters experienced pain but moved on to lead better lives.

Exiles, orphans, and other groups who have been resilient in the face of adversity are featured in the second section. The next logical step in this study of resilience should be to teach people specific ways to use inner strength to heal. Unfortunately, the third section is just more stories about people who overcome abuse. Cyrulnik’s work would be a good addition to the curriculum of a psychology class. People looking for a self-help book to aid in the process of healing from pain should look elsewhere.

Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin