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Eckardt, M.H. (2009). The Unbroken Soul: Tragedy, Trauma, and Resilience, edited by Henri Parens, Harold P. Blum, and Salman Akhtar. Jason Aronson, New York, 200 pp., $34.95. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 37(4):713-716.

(2009). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 37(4):713-716

Book Reviews

The Unbroken Soul: Tragedy, Trauma, and Resilience, edited by Henri Parens, Harold P. Blum, and Salman Akhtar. Jason Aronson, New York, 200 pp., $34.95

Review by:
Marianne Horney Eckardt, M.D.

Edited by:
César A. Alfonso

Why do some individuals crumble when faced with adversity or massive trauma, while others emerge with their ability to live a normal life intact? This book addresses the many facets of the important phenomenon called resilience. Thirteen authors contribute to the inquiry in 11 chapters. The book is grouped around the contributions of three outstanding researchers in this field: Boris Cyrulnik, Henry Krystal, and Henri Parens. They have written extensively on this subject. All three are holocaust survivors, as well as psychiatrists, who have worked with traumatized children and adults. By focusing on the general topic of resilience, this book highlights the importance of their work and brings it to the attention of a wider audience.

While some of the papers list factors, external and internal, which seem to be favoring the development of resilience, Boris Cyrulnik, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Toulon, France, emphasizes context dependent complexity, and variability. There are many ways of being traumatized. He points out that children can be traumatized by a distant event. Children in France were traumatized by watching the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. They did not react to the event but to the fear and horror in their mothers' faces. It is difficult to assess the effect of war on children, as there are so many variables. All we can do is analyze the constellation of determinants that influences a particular child's reaction to a war.

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