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Book Review: The Survivor Personality

The Survivor Personality:

Why Some People are Stronger, Smarter, and More Skillful at Handling Life’s Difficulties… and How You Can Be, Too

Why do some people seem to thrive and survive in life, no matter what their circumstances, while others don’t seem to have the same ability or resilience?

That’s a question many people ask themselves when they find themselves “stuck” in life. And this book may have a few clues as to help them answer that question for themselves.

This remains one of the best books I have ever read on the topic of the resilient personality, and it is an appropriate read for anyone. In this updated edition of the book, the author discusses how best to make it through life and cope with all of its myriad of difficulties. While it’s focus is on survivor issues, it really can help anyone.

The updated version of this book retains its nineteen chapters, the author covers topics ranging from the importance of flexibility and empathy, to learning how to thrive and manage your own self-healing. Specific chapters deal with surviving emergencies, crises, and natural disasters.

While the author’s own life experiences seem a little limited and this book is just his opinion about things — not really backed by an exhaustive or in-depth look at the science and research — it still works very well. The author writes in a clear style in a thoughtful and insightful way.

He offers useful advice in dealing with negative and angry people, which should be of help to almost anyone who reads this. The book includes specific guidelines for listening to survivors of extreme experiences (helpful for anyone who knows someone who has survived a traumatic experience, including family members and friends), how to cope and survive job loss and the job search process, and much more. The Appendix includes notes and references as well as a recommended reading list.

I liked what another reader pointed out about the book:

[…] You might think, as I did before reading this book, that it is a 100 percent great thing to be a survivor. Unfortunately, people in the lives of survivors often criticize and attack them for the very traits that allow them to survive and prosper. To help survivors deal with this, Siebert provides invaluable information on what he calls, “surviving being a survivor.”

The author has written a down-to-earth book chock full of useful information that is both an easy and enjoyable read. Peppered with the occasional graph to help illustrate an example, as well as dozens of stories from people’s experiences, it is an excellent “how-to” book in how to become one of life’s survivors. Resiliency and flexibility are key issues dealt with throughout this book. Highly recommended.

Softcover, 293 pages.

Book Review: The Survivor Personality

Psych Central's Recommendation:
Worth Your Time! +++

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John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder & CEO of Psych Central. He is an author, researcher and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues -- as well as the intersection of technology and human behavior -- since 1992. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member and treasurer of the Society for Participatory Medicine. He writes regularly and extensively on mental health concerns, the intersection of technology and psychology, and advocating for greater acceptance of the importance and value of mental health in today's society. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2016). Book Review: The Survivor Personality. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 May 2016
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 May 2016
Published on Psych All rights reserved.