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Weisner, L. (2007). The Whispering Of Ghosts: Trauma and Resilience, Boris Cyrulnik, Translated by Susan Fairfield. Other Press: New York, 2005, 182 pp.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 67(1):113-116.

(2007). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 67(1):113-116

The Whispering Of Ghosts: Trauma and Resilience, Boris Cyrulnik, Translated by Susan Fairfield. Other Press: New York, 2005, 182 pp.

Review by:
Lindsay Weisner, Psy.D.

In this post-9/11 world, the word trauma is used so often that it becomes an almost casual description of a painful history. This book details the lives of many children and adults who have suffered through the most heinous physical, verbal, and sexual assaults. But strange as it sounds, it is not the traumatic histories that stick out in my mind. Instead, I remember the Salvadorean boy who imagined himself a superhero to overcome his parent's abandonment. I recall the teenage girl who found hope in the stability of academia, and I remember young Bruno, abandoned by his parents but inspired by the attention he received during a schoolyard game. Boris Cyrulnik's book whispers that perhaps what is most important is not the trauma itself, but the possibility of resiliency.

What is resiliency? The answer appears to be simply that it is something different for each person, for Cyrulnik defines resiliency not in words, but in powerful examples. He tells the tale of an elderly woman who adopted three children, who had been abandoned and left to an orphanage. Over time, the woman's care produced changes in the three boys—changes so individual that the effect might not hold up to scientific scrutiny. One boy displayed a noticeable change in vocabulary and verbal skills, one boy increased in physical size, and the third showed the most improvement in motor skills.

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