Book Review by Karen Robinson – “Upside – The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth” Author Jim Rendon

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Karen Robinson reading Jim Rendon's book titled 'Upside' The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth NB All images are protected by copyright laws

Karen Robinson reading Jim Rendon’s book titled ‘Upside’ The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth – reading via Kindle. NB All images are protected by copyright laws



What drew me towards reading this book titled ‘Upside‘ written by Jim Rendon was the book’s tag line – ‘The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth‘.  Over recent years, I have come to formally understand, that my art and creative writing processes, have been – my own personal post-traumatic growth journey.  Reading Jim Rendon’s book, has further assisted me in gaining insightful knowledge about the subject matter. It also, had me appreciating, just how much post-traumatic growth I myself have encountered, after experiencing a series of life changing devastating traumatic events. That post-traumatic growth can be like, a rebirth of oneself, a rebuilding of everything previously known and understood; and that it can lead to positive outcomes, that one would have never anticipated; that life can once more – become meaningful, purposeful and fulfilling.  But it takes work, and the process of post-traumatic growth can be different from one individual to another.  What works for some, may not work for others and in Jim Rendon’s book – his interviews/stories about individuals from all walks of life and traumatic experiences, shows this to be true.


NB:  Recently I spoke at Mind Australia’s 2016 Conference in Melbourne, Australia about my Post-Traumatic Growth, about how art and creative writing had improved my life after experiencing a series of family crises and about what I had learned about the catalyst for my positive change.  Please find here a link for the webpage about ARTIST TALK NO. 2 – ‘OUR VOICE, OUR CHOICE’ 2016that refers to this presentation of mine.




Jim Rendon has written his book in sections, number one being titled ‘Why Terrible Experiences Can Also Be Good For You‘, number two being titled ‘The Essential Tools for Growth‘ and the third titled ‘Cultivating Growth‘.  The following Amazon overview of his book covers it well and I felt I couldn’t have covered it better:-


'Upside' - The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth written by Jim Rendon

‘Upside’ – The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth written by Jim Rendon


In the tradition of Po Bronson and Paul Tough, journalist Jim Rendon delivers a deeply reported look at the life-changing implications of post-traumatic growth—an emerging field of psychological research that shows how the suffering caused by traumatic events can be harnessed as a force for self-improvement and success rather than destruction.

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is at the center of national conversation and a widely recognized psychological condition. But an equally valid, though lesser known outcome of trauma is post-traumatic growth. While many survivors suffer long-term emotional damage, over the last several decades psychologists have discovered that with the right circumstances and proper support, survivors can actually emerge from their trauma stronger, more focused, and with a new and clear vision for the future. In fact, as many as two-thirds of trauma survivors report positive changes—far more than suffer from PTSD.

But how can terrible events lead to remarkable and dramatic breakthroughs? Upside seeks to answer this question by taking a deep-dive look at this burgeoning new field of study. Comprised of interviews with leading researchers and dozens of trauma survivors, Rendon paints a vivid and comprehensive portrait of this groundbreaking field. With accessible language, prescriptive takeaways, and specific tools to promote positive responses to trauma, this book is perfect for anyone interested in the ways that traumatic events shape people. It is particularly useful for trauma survivors or their loved ones seeking a more hopeful and positive future. (Amazon 2016).”



Below is a link to ‘Leonard Lopate Show‘ interview with Jim Rendon, spamming just 20 minutes.  It helps give a quick overview of what Jim Rendon’s book is all about and worth a listen.

“The Silver Lining of Trauma” Radio interview with Jim Rendon




Jim Rendon’s Book ‘Upside’ was a good read. There was so much I could personally resonate with and improved my understanding about post-traumatic growth exponentially which in turn, has improved my understanding of my own experience with post-traumatic growth.  Jim’s extensive research into the science of post-traumatic growth and his in-depth interviews/stories about people whom have experienced post-traumatic growth – proved to validate his work even more.



Jim Rendon’s book is an important read for those whom are interested in ‘post-traumatic growth’ and how in can be an incredible means to helping people rebuild and reshape their lives which have been somehow traumatically impacted by a life changing event.


Written by © Karen Robinson, July 2016

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  Post-traumatic growth – My Art & Creative Writing Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

Book Review by Karen Robinson – “Wired to Create” Authors Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregorie

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4 of 4 Book Review by Karen Robinson - 'Wired to Create' Authors Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire NB All images are protected by copyright laws

4 of 4 Book Review by Karen Robinson – ‘Wired to Create’ Authors Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire.  Karen Robinson – being me spending time reading.  NB:  All images are protected by copyright laws




I have to confess, I am not and have not ever been a big reader.  During my turbulent childhood, reading was just not at the top of the list of important things to worry about.  Throughout my adulthood, it has proven to be a great failing of mine, and I wish I had learned the love of reading books in my earlier life.  So what I am hoping to do here within my blog is to take up reading books in relation to art therapy and creative writing therapy and sharing my thoughts about such books.



After searching the internet, I came across this book titled Wired to Create.  The title captured my imagination firstly, and then it was its – book review and the qualitative authors, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire that final sold me on purchasing the book to read.

Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD “is scientific director of the Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he investigates the measurement and development of intelligence, imagination, and creativity” (S.B. Kaufman/C. Gregoire 2015).  Carolyn Gregoire “is a senior writer at the Huffington Post, where she reports on psychology, mental health, and TEDx and the Harvard Public Health Forum, and has appeared on MSNBC, the Today show, the History Channel, and Huffpost Live” (S.B. Kaufman/C.Gregoire 2015). 






The Wired to Create book explores the many faces of creativity through the habits and motivations of highly creative people; and what they do differently within areas of:  imaginative play, passion, daydreaming, solitude, intuition, openness to experience, mindfulness, sensitivity, turning adversity into advantage, and thinking differently (S.B. Kaufman/C. Gregoire 2015).

At first I found Wired to Create a little hard to get into but within a number of pages turned, I was hooked.  It was an easy read and I felt myself being able to really grasp what was written.  There was much I personally could relate to, along with being able to experience science based new information about a subject matter that’s important to me.



Some of the notable things that I learned whilst reading this book, has been that creative people whom enjoy the process of their creativity, and feel a sense of control over it, show greater creativity, than those whom concentrate just on what the end result will accomplish (S.B. Kaufman/C. Gregoire 2015).  This statement rings true for myself, as the process of painting, creative writing, photo-taking is very much part of my therapeutic journey overall, and the outcome just seems to be a place where I just stop and pause, in readiness to embark on the next project.  Reaching the end of a project is satisfying, but the process in getting there is far more significant and self-fulfilling. Part of this process demonstrates a state of mind describe as ‘flow’ which allows the creative person to be completely absorbed; to be deeply concentrating on the task at hand and in turn, there’s a sensation of time being lost (S.B. Kaufman/C. Gregoire 2015).  This flow state of mind has played a very important part during my own art as therapy journey along side of my story telling for each painting I have painted.

NB:  Click here to view an Interesting Ted Talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness

The subject matter about post-traumatic growth was of great interest to me whilst reading this book. Wired to Create authors stated that “post-traumatic growth often leads people to see new possibilities in their lives, and one of those new possibility ties – may be an artistic hobby or an entirely new career that allows them to express their creativity” (S.B. Kaufman/C. Gregoire 2015). I found this to be true myself as I had taken up art and creative writing at times in my life where I most needed a way of coping with a series of major life crisis’ and traumatic events. Creativity formed an essential part of my post-traumatic growth. It lead me to experiencing a better sense of well-being and improved my life in ways I couldn’t have foreseen.

NB: Click here to read about a blog I wrote about attending a Regional Arts Workshop where the subject was around ‘post-traumatic growth’



Highly recommend Wired to Create as a read for those interested in what creativity is and how the creative mind works/evolves and how important that we be supportive of those that choose to be creative.  That unlocking our creative self, is not just a benefit to ourselves as creators, it also benefits those whom are viewers/users of such creativity.  It also benefits humanity at large and the Wired to Create authors help to substantiate that proposition within their book.


Written by © Karen Robinson, April 2016

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art & Creative Writing Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson