1. Justic, Marcia MSN, APRN

Article Content

Peter Ubel. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006. $14.95. ISBN 0-07-146480-8. 288 pp.


The concept of resilience has been prominent in professional literature as it applies to children and adolescents and their capacity to overcome traumatic childhoods. Building on this work, the author and his research associates studied emotional resilience in adults who face serious medical illnesses. They analyzed behaviors and perceptions that contribute to the development of resilience among patients with life-threatening illness and chronic disabilities to determine how these individuals viewed their lives and developed skills to participate and find meaning in their daily activities.


The author describes various personality characteristics and patterns of behavior that some individuals possess by the grace of genetics or positive childhood experiences. Personality traits such as extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness to new experiences allow people to function at an optimal level and find joy in their lives even as they adjust to the limitations of their illness. Individuals with limited coping skills, self-esteem issues, and few resources can also develop strategies to adapt. Patients can often find a new sense of purpose and demonstrate new strengths. Although this is not a "how to do therapy" book, it does offer specific tools that the clinician can offer to patients.


The author presents several case studies in so much detail that it is often difficult to wade through to identify the concepts being illustrated. In addition, the reader must recall a case description from an early chapter to understand new ideas illustrated by that case later in the book. This makes the organization of the text fragmented, as though one is listening to stories being told in a "stream of consciousness" fashion. The book might be easier to follow if it were arranged as chapters that presented concepts followed by case illustrations.


The book is enjoyable to read and avoids psychological jargon. For clinical nurse specialists and other professionals familiar with the behavioral sciences, the content may seem basic. More than half of the references and studies cited are more than 10 years old. Nonetheless, the book can be useful for teaching nursing students as they prepare to work with patients in a variety of settings.