Build Back Better

By DAVID SHAYWITZ, MD

As the nation has struggled to cope with the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has become the voice so many have looked to for support and leadership

What Cuomo seems both to offer and effectively communicate is not just a mastery of the facts, but also a grounded yet hopeful narrative. The story he projects serves as a resonant, unifying, activating force that helps us to see our collective trauma as a valuable opportunity to grow.

The ability to reimagine your life story in a more constructive way allows some to endure unimaginable suffering and emerge intact, even stronger, in the aftermath. 

Such “super-survivors,” David Brooks wrote in 2015, leaning on extensive psychology research on post-traumatic growth by Richard Tedeschi among others, have traits “that enable them to come back stronger than ever. These people are often deluded in good ways about their own abilities, but completely realistic about their situations.” Post-traumatic growth “is not blind optimism, denial, or deception of self or others,” Tedeschi told me. “It does not dismiss distress and loss.” Rather, he argues in his latest book, Transformed by Trauma, which focuses on military veterans, the experience of growth “is a process – a difficult one, and an outcome that is life-changing and worth the struggle.”

Continue reading