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The Survivor Personality
Why Some People
Are Strong, Smarter & More Skillful
 at Handling Life's Difficulties

Al Siebert

Who survives? Who thrives? As a psychologist who has spent more than 40 years studying the phenomenon of survival, Al Siebert has gained valuable insight into the qualities and habits that help human beings overcome adversity -- from every day conflicts to major life stresses.

In this book, he delineates the "survivor personality" -- including such recent examples as Scott O'Grady, the fighter pilot shot down over Bosnia -- and shows how survival skills can be learned, leading to better coping, increased success in work and relationships, and a vastly brighter outlook on the future.

Hit by adversity, your life disrupted? How do you respond? Some people feel victimized and blame others for their plight. Some shut down. They feel helpless and overwhelmed. Some get angry. They lash out and try to hurt anyone they can.

A few, however, reach within themselves and find ways to cope with adversity. They eventually make things turn out well. These are life's best survivors, those people with an amazing capacity for surviving crises and extreme difficulties. They thrive by gaining strength from adversity.

Are they different from other people? No. They survive, cope and thrive better because they are better at using inborn abilities possessed by all humans.

And this books tells how you can channel those skills into a better life.

The Survivor Personality: Why Some People are Stronger, Smarter and More Skillful at Handling Life's Difficulties ... and How You Can Be, Too (Perigee Books) 1996, 293 pages, ISBN 0-399-52230-1.

Softcover, Item# Bsurvivorpers
Book -- $13   Retail: $13.95

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Reviews of the Survivor Personality include:
Violence is traumatic. But that doesn't mean that once you have experienced it, you have to adopt a "victim mindset." Unfortunately, many people after being subjected to violence -- whether in their past or unexpectedly as in a crime -- attempt to (re)define themselves according to this "reality." Often people after being involved in unexpected violence (such as a crime) obsess on their fear, paranoia and adopting a "never again" attitude. This is a mistake. Not only does it destroy the quality of your life, but quite frankly, it can leave you financially vulnerable to macho quacks whose fantasy training about "being prepared for next time" will only further spiral you down the path of paranoia.

We chose to carry Dr. Siebert's book because of his unique and groundbreaking approach. Rather than encouraging people to fall down the path of the "endless victim," he addresses what the people -- who, not only survived, but thrived, -- had that set them apart from the people who were crushed by adversity and trauma. Then he proceeds to help you develop these same traits within yourself. Yes, experiencing violence can be traumatic. It does NOT, however, have to be life defining.

This book will help you get your life back
-- Marc MacYoung


The philosopher Nietzsche once said, "That which does not destroy [or kill] me, makes me stronger." Guess what? There is finally a practical book that shows you how to do that and this is the book!!

This is not a cookbook of instructions but a book of practical guidelines to help you discover inborn abilities that NO one else can reveal to you.

What are some of the features of this book that enable you to do this? They are as follows:
   (1) TRUE STORIES. The book is punctuated with true stories from those people who were initially knocked down by disruptive change.
   These people were able to access their will to survive, and even gain strength from their adversity.
   (2) SELF-DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY INSERTS. These short activities are for helping the reader get the most out of the book.
   They occur at various places throughout the book.
   (3) DIAGRAMS AND CHARTS. These also occur at various places throughout the book.
   These are to help the reader understand important concepts.
   (4) THE AUTHOR'S WRITING STYLE. All of what the author writes is easy to understand.
   I could find no technical psychobabble anywhere in the book.
   (5) OTHER RESOURCES. For those who want more information, other resources are listed at the back of the book.
   An internet address is also given.

I especially liked two chapters. There first one is entitled "Thriving" which reveals how to grow in adversity instead of being a victim. The other one is entitled "The Roots of Resiliency: Your Inner 'Selfs'." This chapter examines and helps the reader understand his/her inner resiliency resources.

In conclusion, being a disabled person I can validate what the author says in the final paragraph of his book: "It is...adversity [that] can lead to the discovery of strengths that you did not know you had...and a difficulty that almost breaks your spirit can be turned into one of the best things that ever happened to you." 
-- Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario Canada


This is a wonderfully written book: clear, comprehensive and incredibly insightful. It helps you discover if you are a survivor or not, become one if you are not already, and avoid persecution that sometimes comes your way when you are naturally a survivor personality. I found that last part a fascinating irony: you might think, as I did before reading this book, that it is a 100% great thing to be a survivor. Unfortunately, people in the lives of survivors often criticize and attack them for the very traits that allow them to survive and prosper. To help survivors deal with this, Siebert provides invaluable information on what he calls, "surviving being a survivor." Here is one of my favorites of his many insights on this extremely important issue:

He says that resilient people are often mistaken by others, who are not so good at surviving adversity, as being "pessimists." A survivor is very talented at anticipating possible problems at work and at home and planning a response to them. (Much like the old saying, "Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.") People who hate to look before they leap often accuse survivors of being needlessly fearful, stick-in-the-mud thinkers. Of course, when the inevitable happens, and the ready-or-not-here-I-come types land in trouble, who do they always run to for help digging out of the mess they've failed to anticipate? The survivor, of course.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who needs help successfully living through traumas and catastrophes in his/her life (just about all of us!). The stories Siebert tells of survivors, including analysis of what they did to recover from agonizing events and why their approaches worked, are both practical and inspiring.
-- Kate McMurry


I coach people in emotional intelligence, including being resilient. This book is like my Bible ... this and all Al Siebert's documented research. He actually looked at resilient seniors to see what traits they had. If you're a survivor, you'll enjoy reading all about yourself in this book, and feeling understood, perhaps for the first time. If you aren't a survivor, read it anyway. The time to build resilience is before the calamity occurs. It can be learned. It's the best antidote to stress there is, and it will make you change-proficient, a trait you need in 2003! -- Susan Dunn, the EQ coach, San Antonio, Texas.


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The Resiliency Advantage
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Freedom From Fear
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Do You See What I am Saying?
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Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement
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Violence, Blunders And Fractured Jaws: Advanced Awareness, Avoidance and Street Etiquette
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Street Safe: How to Recognize and Avoid Violent Crime
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The Missing Link: Self-protection Through Awareness, Avoidance and De-escalation
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Turning Fear Into Power
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Safe in the City
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Minimum Damage, Maximum Effect
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Affordable Security
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Home Security
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Surviving Workplace Violence
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