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Are you steeped in depression? Plunged into a seemingly endless grief? What if you met someone whose greatest joy in life yes, greatest joy is to take you gently by the hand and lead you step by step into a lighter place, a life …. Ruland, author Carl R. Laurie Zelinger, Ph. As Sherry quotes …. Emma Lou the Yorkie Poo: Breathing in the Calm will introduce people to some of the many benefits of a mindfulness practice. What I would give for a cupcake or ice cream! Celia has her own forbidden foods and that too includes bread, rolls and all types of delicious cakes. The hardest part is going to school and watching the other kids eat their treats while ….

One of the first studies, published in , was conducted on aviators captured during the Vietnam War. It reported that 61 percent said they had benefited psychologically from their experience of captivity. Many said that they had stronger religious convictions and enjoyed life more. They said they appreciated others more.

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Those treated most harshly by their captors reported the most positive change. Perhaps it was no more than the desire to give meaning to a horrible time in their lives, but a follow-up study conducted 25 years later found that the soldiers remained convinced that the captivity had changed them for the better.

Last spring, Tedeschi was in Wilmington, N. He is a tall, wiry man with deep-set eyes and a soft, even voice. After his presentation, we had lunch in the student snack bar, where he explained the dynamics of post-traumatic growth. Only a seismic event — not just an upsetting experience — can lead to this kind of growth. By that Tedeschi means an event that shakes you to your core and causes you to question your fundamental assumptions about the world.

Survivors of such severe trauma inevitably confront questions about existence that most of us avoid, and the potential for growth comes not from the event itself but from the struggle to make sense of it. Tedeschi calls this rumination, and he argues that it can happen alongside P. Why not build something better? On a late spring morning, soldiers gathered in the basement of a Sheraton hotel in Philadelphia.

Most were sergeants who had completed at least one combat deployment. Decked out in camouflage and desert boots, they were attending a day Master Resilience Trainer course meant to help create a more psychologically fit army. Rhonda Cornum.

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She is a physician, a pilot and a competitive horseback rider. She was also a prisoner of war. In the first gulf war, Cornum, then a flight surgeon on a Black Hawk helicopter, was shot down during a rescue mission. She woke pinned to the ground by wreckage. She had two broken arms and was held prisoner for eight days. The Iraqis could have killed us easily when they found us at the crash site, but they chose not to. Then in the circle of men a slight pressure on a single trigger would have been enough to kill us, but we had been spared.

It was just good-enough luck for me to grab onto and to hold. I vowed to survive. When she returned home, people expected to hear anguished tales, but she had none to report. In fact, she could come up with only positive things to say.

She now empathized more with her patients because she had been one; she became closer to her family and a more self-confident leader. At the time, Cornum wanted to develop a psychological training program for the Army. George W. Casey Jr. Cornum met with Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, a giant in the field of positive psychology, who developed a program to help adolescents perform better in school. Cornum worked with him to set up a series of meetings with experts in resilience, positive psychology and growth.

View all New York Times newsletters. The Master Resilience Trainer program, part of this larger effort, is supposed to turn the noncommissioned officers closest to young soldiers into teachers of positive psychology. A week into the training course at the Sheraton in Philadelphia, the soldiers were divided into groups for role-playing exercises to help develop techniques for optimistic thinking. I sat at a round table in a small basement meeting room with eight soldiers who had been given the following situation: You are the sergeant in charge of a unit, and a soldier shows up late for early-morning formation twice in a row.

The group had to come up with a worst-case scenario, a best case-scenario and what was most likely to happen. Sitting at the table was Sgt. First Class Chris Tweedell. An Oliver Stone vision of a sergeant — towering, broad and topped with a pale shaved head — Tweedell is blessed with a deep, powerful voice.

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Tweedell and the other sergeants were supposed to be learning how to train others to avoid catastrophic thinking. But trying to dream up optimistic outcomes for the hypothetical situation was exasperating him. That does not mean that every outcome is going to be positive — in many cases, in war especially, something bad is going to happen. Tweedell served in Iraq in and and completed two tours in Afghanistan. When he returned from his first deployment, his home was broken into.

He got divorced. He remarried, but coming home from tours continues to be hard.


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The more realistic outcome: he would be put on an unpleasant work detail. Some studies show that optimism is linked to increased resilience and to the likelihood of psychological growth. A core principle of the program is seeing an event as neutral, neither bad nor good, and focusing instead on your reaction to the event. A week into the training, I met with Tweedell for a second time. Seligman encourages soldiers to communicate in what he calls an active, constructive way — drawing out others, encouraging detailed discussions of positive events.

Tweedell was realizing that he often avoids conversation with his stepdaughter because he assumes she does not want to talk to him. He told me that as a soldier, he often communicates passively as well. But can positive thinking really protect against the harsh experiences of war? They develop intense bonds with one another, and all too often they see those closest to them die. Relentless boredom is punctuated by moments of pure terror. Young men and women who have little experience with mortality are suddenly confronted with gruesome scenes of death.

Some grapple for years with the emotional complexities of killing and watching people die.

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General Cornum originally planned to pilot a few psychological training approaches so they could be studied against a control group of soldiers who received no training at all. But that would have taken years, and General Casey wanted the program rolled out right away to everyone. The Army is conducting studies — comparing four brigades that have resilience trainers with four that do not — and in December it released the first results, which found small improvements in emotional and social fitness and a small decrease in catastrophic thinking among those soldiers whose brigades had trainers over a six-month period.

Paul Lester, the lead researcher, says that future studies will look at disciplinary problems, illness and other more objective measures. He argues that this initial study points to the effectiveness of the program, saying that small changes in such a large group — there were 22, surveyed — are important indicators. But he also admits that the study is imperfect. The true test of the program is how it works in combat.

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Last year, resilience trainers were assigned to the Second Stryker Cavalry regiment in Afghanistan, in which Pvt. First Class Brian Hinkley served. Hinkley told me that children in villages would throw rocks at the soldiers or spit at them. His trainer was not trying to instill false optimism but rather a better way of dealing with inevitable hardship.

And Hinkley might well have responded this way naturally, like Cornum. But now, at least, he had a conscious frame for his response. The traditional view of trauma was bifurcated: you either got P. Researchers today have a messier perspective. It is normal to have problems following trauma.

You should lose sleep, have terrible images replay in your head, be racked by guilt or fear. Some people suffer these normal post-trauma reactions to one degree or another and recover, returning to a relatively normal state within weeks or months of the event. Others appear unchanged at first, only to react months or even years later. The majority of these people also recover. A small percentage of people get trapped in their trauma and experience P. Tedeschi and others say that the majority of people across this entire spectrum also grow as a result of their suffering.

Paradoxically, many grow even as they suffer. The way we cope with trauma is far more complex than once thought, and the way it molds us is similarly complex. We bend, we break, we repair and rebuild, and often we grow, changing for the better in ways we never would have if we had not suffered. Researchers have found evidence of post-traumatic growth in cultures across the globe.

In her own research, Weiss found growth in the spouses of cancer survivors.

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But growth is not a given. Not everyone climbs out of despair changed for the better. An overreliance on drugs to treat P.