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About the book
  • Published: 22 October 2014
  • ISBN: 9780399168857
  • Imprint: Tarcher
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $27.99
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The Gift of Adversity: The Unexpected Benefits of Life's Difficulties, Setbacks and Imperfections


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Rosenthal illustrates his message through a series of compact, memorable chapters, each one drawn from episodes in the lives of his patients, colleagues, or himself, and concluded with a take-away maxim on the lesson learned.

Adversity is an irreducible fact of life.  Although we can and should learn from all experiences, both positive and negative, bestselling author Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, believes that adversity is by far the best teacher most of us will ever encounter.

Whether the adversity one experiences is the result of poor decision-making, a desire to test one's mettle, or plain bad luck, Rosenthal believes life's most important lessons—from the value of family to the importance of occasionally cutting corners—can be best learned from it.

Running counter to society's current prevailing message that 'excellence' must always be aspired to, and failure or mistakes of any sort are to be avoided at all costs, Rosenthal shows that engaging with our own failures and defeats is one of the only ways we are able to live authentic and meaningful lives, and that each different type of adversity carries its own challenges and has the potential to yield its own form of wisdom. 

Using stories from his own life—including his childhood in apartheid-era South Africa, his years after suffering a violent attack from a stranger, and his career as a psychiatrist—as well as case studies and discussions with well-known figures like Viktor Frankl and David Lynch, Rosenthal shows that true innovation, emotional resilience, wisdom, and dignity can only come from confronting and understanding the adversity we have experienced. Even when life is hardest, there are meanings to be found, riches to be harvested, and gifts that can last a lifetime. 

Rosenthal illustrates his message through a series of compact, memorable chapters, each one drawn from episodes in the lives of his patients, colleagues, or himself, and concluded with a take-away maxim on the lesson learned.
'Will help you see the value in your struggles . . . Arguing that personal growth can't happen without setbacks, Norman Rosenthal challenges readers to re-interpret adversity as a key element of empathy, maturity, and success.' New York Daily News

'Dr. Rosenthal catalyzes conversations around adversity with tales of wisdom and survival that we can all treasure.' Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.

'Rosenthal captures both the complexity of our emotions and the pragmatics needed to harness them, and he does so with humor and grace.' Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree

'Dr. Norm is cosmonaut of consciousness, launching into the the murky abyss and returning with meteoric treasures for us all. Russell Brand

'Timely and beautifully written . . . tells intriguing stories that converge on an important theme — that many of life's greatest lessons and joys are not the products of perfection, but the gifts of adversity.' Marci Shimoff, New York Times bestselling author of Happy for No Reason

  • Pub date: 22 October 2014
  • ISBN: 9780399168857
  • Imprint: Tarcher
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $27.99

About the Author

Norman E. Rosenthal

NORMAN E. ROSENTHAL, M.D., is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School and the New York Times-bestselling author of books including Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation and The Gift of Adversity: The Unexpected Benefits of Life’s Difficulties, Setbacks, and Imperfections. He conducted research at the National Institute of Mental Health as a research fellow, researcher, and senior researcher for more than twenty years and was the first psychiatrist to describe and diagnose Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

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