Supernormal: The Secret World of the Family Hero (Paperback)
Clinical psychologist and author of The Defining Decade, Meg Jay takes us into the world of the supernormal: those who soar to unexpected heights after childhood adversity.
Whether it is the loss of a parent to death or divorce; bullying; alcoholism or drug abuse in the home; mental illness in a parent or a sibling; neglect; emotional, physical or sexual abuse; having a parent in jail; or growing up alongside domestic violence, nearly 75% of us experience adversity by the age of 20. But these experiences are often kept secret, as are our courageous battles to overcome them.
Drawing on nearly two decades of work with clients and students, Jay tells the tale of ordinary people made extraordinary by these all-too-common experiences, everyday superheroes who have made a life out of dodging bullets and leaping over obstacles, even as they hide in plain sight as doctors, artists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, parents, activists, teachers, students and readers. She gives a voice to the supernormals among us as they reveal not only "How do they do it?" but also "How does it feel?"
These powerful stories, and those of public figures from Andre Agassi to Jay Z, will show supernormals they are not alone but are, in fact, in good company.
Marvelously researched and compassionately written, this exceptional book narrates the continuing saga that is resilience as it challenges us to consider whether -- and how -- the good wins out in the end.
About the Author
Meg Jay, PhD, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult development, and twentysomethings in particular. She is an assistant clinical professor at University of Virginia, and maintains a private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia. Dr. Jay earned a doctorate in clinical psychology, and in gender studies, from University of California, Berkeley.
"This extraordinary book taught me more about resilience than anything else I've read. With the ear of a therapist and the voice of a novelist, Meg Jay delves deep into the human condition to illuminate how we find strength after suffering. It's impossible to read SUPERNORMAL without seeing yourself in it -- and without seeing yourself more clearly too."—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg
"Adversity is much more common than we think. But so is resilience, as Meg Jay reveals in this remarkable book. With a storyteller's grace and a clinician's insight, Jay explains how everyday superheroes triumph over traumas of every kind -- and how you can use their inspiration and lessons to transform your own life."—Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of Drive
"On our long journey through life, sometimes we get knocked down by adversity. Meg Jay's brilliant analysis of how to rise up even stronger is essential reading for all of us on the path of everyday heroism."—Philip Zimbardo, PhD, president of The Heroic Imagination Project
"SUPERNORMALis a compassionate, optimistic, yet realistic tale of resilience. We can bounce back from adversity. Even so, the bounce hurts. I recommend this book to anyone seeking guidance, or inspiration, for coping with everyday stress -- or a once-in-a-lifetime trauma."—Robert E. Emery, PhD, University of Virginia; Director of the Center for Children, Families, and the Law and author of Two Homes, One Childhood
"With SUPERNORMAL, Meg Jay takes us into the secret world of friends, neighbors, and colleagues, where many are fighting their own private battles. You will understand resilience quite differently after you read this book, and the world would be a more compassionate place if everyone did."—J. Stuart Ablon, Ph.D, director of Think:Kids
"SUPERNORMAL puts an end to the 'happily-ever-after' tales we tell ourselves about resilient children. But it does not stop there. Deeply researched and full of insight and wisdom, it is a book for anyone thinking about how we navigate the vicissitudes of life."—Steven Lagerfeld, public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center
"In a world where quick fixes masquerade as the secret to health and happiness, SUPERNORMAL saves the day with an inspirational account of resilience that never shortchanges the pain, risk, or complexity of the challenges involved. Masterfully researched, eloquently written, and deeply felt, SUPERNORMAL satisfies at every level."—Daphne de Marneffe, PhD, author of Maternal Desire and The Rough Patch
"Meg Jay offers the supernormals among us -- those masses forged by adversity -- both self-awareness and community. They will see themselves, and one another, in her pages, exhaling with the relief of recognition."—Joshua Prager, author of The Echoing Green and 100 Years
"Compelling and hopeful. [Meg Jay] amply shows that though internal battles may not end, the joy that comes from living a balanced life is always possible. A well-researched, abundantly documented, readable work of social science."—Kirkus
"Jay...challenges the idea that [people who have experienced trauma] are damaged and abnormal by redefining them as "supernormal" heroes. [Jay] uses her [superhero conceit] to help make the people whose stories she shares more relatable, in the way that children, especially children in difficult situations, look to their fictional heroes for...affirmation."—Publishers Weekly
"Gripping, evidence-based, and inspiring, SUPERNORMAL brings to life the surprising numbers of kids and adults who overcome adversity. Be prepared for a tour of everything from brain science to community empowerment, enriched by real-life stories. Five stars!"—Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD, author of Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness
"Both disturbing and inspiring, [SUPERNORMAL] offers an unretouched picture of the profound challenges facing millions of American youth and a map of the path some may be able to follow out of their despair...For all its darkness, SUPERNORMAL's inspiring message and Jay's portraits of how to act on it make this a valuable and important book."—Shelf Awareness
"This powerful book sheds light on the secret shame that so many children and adults hide, and reveals why those who often feel abnormal are actually supernormal. Jay casts light on this important, rarely considered issue in this must-read for educators, physicians, survivors of childhood adversity, and all who wish to understand how our childhoods shape ourselves and our lives."—Booklist