Magazine article Psychology Today

What Is Your Black Swan?

Magazine article Psychology Today

What Is Your Black Swan?

Article excerpt

EVERYONE MEETS ONE UNIMAGINABLE EVENT IN LIFE.

"I dont recommend journeys of forced enlightenment," the TV actress Brett Butler told The New York Times earlier this year, characterizing her long march through substance abuse and back to the world of acting.

But there are people who do recommend journeys of unimaginable physical and emotional travail, experiences most of us shudder even to contemplate. In "The Against-All-Odds Club," Brooke Lea Foster examines the psychological muscles that are both stressed and built up when one survives a freak accident such as a plane crash or a shark attack.

The people Foster profiles have encountered a "black swan"- an event that is rare, unpredictable, and has significant repercussions. Author Nassim Taleb, who popularized the term, points out that in hindsight we often spuriously rationalize these occurrences.

One need not be the victim of a headline-grabbing disaster to feel the power of a black swan. In die course of a lifetime, many people will confront a serious medical diagnosis that was, one second prior, not even a word or phrase in their vocabulary. …

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