A brighter light
Q: "Precious," a critically acclaimed new movie starring Gabourey Sidibe, chronicles the journey of an abused 16-year-old girl struggling to overcome her parents' brutality. What can we learn from those who are able to survive terrible circumstances? What's the most inspiring survival story you've encountered?
The easy answer based on typical psychiatric research is that people who have had severe abuse will go in one of two directions: They either grow up fearing future abuse while at the same time being attracted to those who are abusive, or they become abusers themselves.
However, among the 5,000 successful people we interviewed in our research, we heard a surprising number of stories about how emotional pain had created and fused talent and drive. In fact, some of the most talented and successful people in history had abusive childhoods. So it seems that survival can definitely create success. I think the lesson is to be aware of the two directions your circumstances can lead you and know that the light at the end of the tunnel may be brighter than you think.
Most inspiring abuse survival story? Most of us are familiar with Oprah Winfrey's story, which is very impressive. I also recommend Dave Pelzer's book "A Child Called 'It': One Child's Courage to Survive" -- it's both disturbing and enlightening.
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