In 2009, tragedy struck the town of Palo Alto: A student from the local high school had died by suicide by stepping in front of an oncoming train. Grief-stricken, the community mourned what they thought was an isolated loss. Until, a few weeks later, it happened again. And again. And again. In six months, the high school lost five students to suicide at those train tracks.
A recent transplant to the community and a new father himself, Lee Daniel Kravetz’s experience as a science journalist kicked in: what was causing this tragedy? More importantly, how was it possible that a suicide cluster could develop in a community of concerned, aware, hyper-vigilant adults?
The answer? Social contagion. We all know that ideas, emotions, and actions are communicable—from mirroring someone’s posture to mimicking their speech patterns, we are all driven by unconscious motivations triggered by our environment. But when just the right physiological, psychological, and social factors come together in a perfect storm, we get what Kravetz calls a “strange contagion:” a perfect storm of highly common social viruses that, combined, form a highly volatile condition.
Strange Contagion is simultaneously a moving account of one community’s tragedy and a rigorous investigation of social phenomenon, as Kravetz draws on research and insights from experts worldwide to unlock the mystery of how ideas spread, why they take hold, and offer thoughts on our responsibility to one another as citizens of a globally and perpetually connected world.
Starting where resiliency studies leave off, two psychologists explore the science of remarkable accomplishment in the wake of trauma, revealing the surprising principles that allow people to transform their lives and achieve extraordinary things.
Over four billion people worldwide will survive a trauma during their lives. Some will experience severe post-traumatic stress. Most will eventually recover and return to life as normal. But sometimes, survivors do more than bounce back. Sometimes they bounce forward.
These are the Supersurvivors—individuals who not only rebuild their lives, but also thrive and grow in ways never previously imagined. Beginning where resilience ends, David B. Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz look beyond the tenets of traditional psychology for a deeper understanding of the strength of the human spirit. What they have found flies in the face of conventional wisdom—that positive thinking may hinder more than help; that perceived support can be just as good as the real thing; and that realistic expectations may be a key to great success.
They introduce the humble but powerful notion of grounded hope as the foundation for overcoming trauma. The authors interviewed dozens of men and women whose stories serve as the counterpoint to the latest scientific research. Feldman and Kravetz then brilliantly weave these extraordinary narratives with new science, creating an emotionally compelling and thought-provoking look at what is possible in the face of human tragedy. Supersurvivors will reset our thinking about how we deal with challenges, no matter how big or small.