Laura Hillenbrand: Author as True Other

Inspiring Quantum Resilience

By Carrie Ruggieri

“Steeled for the worst, we encounter the best. It is not only that some are strong at the broken places; it is also that, through trauma, others become strong, and discover they’re strong in ways they never knew. For sometimes trauma awakens extraordinary capacities that otherwise would lie dormant, unknown and untapped. Without the trauma, they would never see the light of day.” (Diana Fosha, 2001).

“You, in this thread and others, have helped us ALL to not only understand what is going on in Texas, in the context of our own local challenges (such as Hurricane Irene), and anniversaries (9/11), but to take stock of our personal legacies and resilience, the stories of how we came to be who and where we are, and why we are called to minister to others in distress, to elicit and ‘fan those sparks of courage’ (Ossefort-Russell) and resilience in them.” (emphasis mine) (Susan Walton, 2011).

Laura Hillenbrand is the best selling and award winning author of two non-fiction historical novels, Seabiscuit: An American Legend (2001) [1], the story of a racehorse who inspired the nation during the Depression era, and Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (2010), the story of Louie Zamperini: a delinquent boy turned Olympic runner expected to break the 4 minute mile, turned fighter pilot hero, turned survivor of 47 days adrift at sea, turned POW survivor, turned survivor of PTSD and alcoholism, turned national inspirational speaker who thrives to this day in his mid-nineties [2].

This review of Laura Hillenbrand’s novels is, true to AEDP ethos, less about the stories as it is a reflection on the phenomena of inspiration and resilience; not everyday resilience, but extraordinary, quantum resilience. The central theme of this review is that quantum resilience can and does happen in everyday life – propelling an ordinary person into acts astounding even their own expectations.

The second theme is an exploration into the True Other mind frame that is a necessary condition to both inspire and to receive inspiration. The receiver of inspiration must in some way experience the source of inspiration as a True Other. And, the receiver must be a True other in receptivity to the source of inspiration.

Hillenbrand’s work masterfully illuminates True Otherness, in all its variations: her tender sensibilities as biographical author, her writing that compels us toward a receptive willingness to be inspired, and the True Otherness among her subjects that fragrances every page.

Examples of how inspiration works its magic in the context of True Otherness is dramatized by a particular genre of resilience her characters portray in abundance – the entire arc of the natural course of volition that has been oppressed and then freed. Keenly targeted by Hillenbrand, volition (literally her subjects’ will or self-determination) is tracked and their inspiration embroidered from its beginning in the form of valiant defiance to surrender to a True Other, and finally into triumphant acts of mastery.


“Some moments bleed far beyond the handful of seconds containing them. Those are the quantum moments, opening you, defining you. They exist in the past, present, and future at once. Somehow, they touch you, and once the sensation is felt, it endures and helps to shape every person you will ever be.” Jason Evans (2007).

An upending moment in Hillenbrand’s life begins her unique authorship. Hillenbrand vividly recalls the seconds just before the rest of her life happened. Fingers scanning the texture of the taffeta prom dress on her lap, turning toward the cheery chattering about the upcoming dance, her world is interrupted by the sidelong glance of a deer’s bent knee flying by her windshield. Next flashing moment, a meteor screams across the sky, a harbinger for the traumatic quantum transformation of her life. Hillenbrand believed for years this event was the punishing impetus for the shattering illness she suffers, a severe form of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

In a 2010 interview she describes her illness “as excoriating.” In the years prior to writing her first novel, Seabiscuit, she stated that her “world narrowed down to my bed and my window.” As she lost the capacity to move, she slept in vigorous motion. “Sports took over my dream world. I won at swimming the Olympics, out pedaled the peloton in the Tour de France, skimmed over a racetrack on a Kentucky Derby winner” (Oney, 2010). She acknowledges her own resiliency: “As difficult as the illness made the writing and research process, I think I also have it to thank for spurring me into the project…writing is my salvation, the one little area of my life where I can still reach out to the world and create something that will remain after I am gone” (Hillenbrand 2003b).

While freelancing for equine magazines, she happened upon a story of an old jockey, Red Pollard. “I’m attracted,” she says, “to subjects who overcome tremendous suffering and learn to cope emotionally with it.” She writes with a romantic sentiment of Red Pollard that could easily be said of herself, “And in one lucky moment of his unlucky life he found Seabiscuit, a horse as damaged and persistent as he was. I hung Red’s picture above my desk and began to write” (Hillenbrand, 2003b).

Hillenbrand wrote with painfully depleted energy, sometimes flat on her back with her eyes closed due to vertigo. First, an awe-inspiring account of the irrepressible resilience of a horse named Seabiscuit, and his jockey, and trainer. She wrote with a vigor, stamina and fierceness of heart that is clearly channeled by her characters.

Years after the completion of this debut book, Seabiscuit, she has the uncanny re-experiencing of another meteor flying across the sky; this time a symbol for the positive turn her life had taken. She flashes back to that the night in the car, the deer, the meteor. She now remembers it as it really happened, “He didn’t step into our path, we didn’t strike him, and I didn’t die. As sure as I was that he had taken everything from me, I was wrong. The car passed him and moved on” (Hillenbrand, 2003a). Again, in a quantum moment, she realizes, though she remains ill, she will live and thrive.

What would have been lost were it not for Hillenbrand’s devotion to the memories of her subjects, is not the stories themselves, and not even the personality of her characters, for they are iconic in our American history, but the specifics of their resilient and inspiring spirits. Through her narrative world, she unfurls the inner working of resiliency as if it were the living, breathing subjects of her novels.

But it is not the mastery that is so inspiring, it is their basic ordinariness that brings us into the realm of familiarity and identification. This, along with Hillenbrand’s capable sensibilities and energetic writing allows us to feel into her subject’s resilient spirits; through their resilience, our own resilient capacities are nourished. An reader reviewer upon reading Unbroken wrote, “I put on my sneakers and ran 8 miles” (Ponce, 2011).

INSPIRATION: “breath in or into” (New Oxford American Dictionary). To become inspired one must feel into, breathe into, the lived experience of the other (inspir[it]-ation).

“I’m motivated in adding my voice to this conversation by the power of Miriam’s dream to convey the vast resiliency of the human spirit and how her inspirational words and images open so many possibilities within me on a personal and professional level. My tendency to be cynical, headstrong and dark in my view of the world and the plight of the human condition is thoroughly undone and dismantled in the light of these brilliant interpersonal possibilities.” Mitnick, (2011)

“…this is not about restoration to baseline: It is about the activation of new resources and capacities, which could have never been imagined, much less predicted, at the outset.” Fosha, (2011, pp. 201-2).

Hillenbrand’s work has led me to wonder how another’s inspiring narrative can reverberate, driving active change within oneself; change that may not otherwise have been realized. How do we “breathe in” inspiration in order for it to have such a cellular effect? And what is the mind frame necessary to ‘see’ into another such that we, the reader, are also so inspired?

Inspiration, in my observation, is much more than vicarious. It is a deeply visceral experience of living the narrative of the other, as it enlivens and resonates with one’s own life experience. From an AEDP perspective, then, inspiration is a relational core affective experience [3]. As such, this core affective experience “produces a transformation in which adaptive resources can be released” (Fosha, 2001b). Transformation [4] need not only be born through a prolonged process, Fosha proposes, “that quantum change… can also be discontinuous, sudden, and rapid.” Fosha, D. (2006)

A momentous experience of my own demonstrates how inspiration can propel quantum change. Among the handful of memorable and consequential quantum moments of my life, one occurred while reading Seabiscuit. It was during a prolonged slog of lethargic despondency— all systems down. In my bed, my blood got pumping and my heart raced during Seabiscuit’s runs through the thunder of horses vying to stay in the lead. I felt my hip joints rock and stabilize as the jockey leveled down for a final push. I felt my hands steady and sure, with even contact on the bit – my heart connection with my horse – I felt my eyes burn in the wind and dirt and sweat whipping into my face, the surge of speed in quiet, slow motion. I experienced a fully vivid sensation of hot sweet breath on my cheek. It was the snuggling muzzle of my long past quarter horse, Swansea. I hadn’t seen Swansea, nor had I been near a horse in 23 years. The next day I signed up for lessons. Without ever expecting to, I bought a horse, beginning a totally life changing odyssey. Seabiscuit brought me back to my home in the world of Horse. I was inspired. I was changed. I didn’t reflect. I was transported and immersed. One day I was in bed, the next in a barn.

Unfortunately, without the benefit of processing this experience, I eventually short-circuited. I felt uncomfortably unintegrated: a ‘morning me’ in the barn, and a wholly different ‘afternoon me’ in my office. Something had to give. I eventually closed my practice and took my horse to Florida to live the life of a horsewoman. But unbeknownst to me, this discomfort was forcing integration, which eventually took the form of my interest in Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy.

Paradoxically, it seems to be (at least in my case and for Hillenbrand following her mysterious car mishap), the nature of discontinuous change to not take notice. We are already gone; what was is history, but too close to have perspective. All action, all focus, is on a new now. This is why, in participating in the facilitation of change with our clients, it is imperative to metaprocess [5] transformation, regardless of the magnitude. Through the metaprocessing, we can loop back into what was, and safely accommodate that into what is now.

As a true AEDP acolyte, I share my experience in the interest of fleshing out the phenomenology of such quantum change processes as they occur in everyday, ordinary life. After all, I was only reading a book in bed; and for that matter, Hillenbrand was only looking for something to do while lying in bed; Seabiscuit was just a happily passed over racehorse; and Zamperini was a delinquent thief with get away speed. In that spirit, another question arises: How does inspiration work its magic beyond a moment’s experience and into one’s blood and lead to quantum change? My experience reading Seabiscuit was visceral, imagistic; I was in the present and the past simultaneously. Through my identification with the characters and through the summoning of my childhood horse, I felt awash in True Other connection: in reverie with my horse, in the reverberation of Seabiscuit’s hoof beats, and in resonance with Hillenbrand’s self-present narration.

There is also the matter of recognition [6] processes at work. The experience of right-fittedness, the experience of “yes, that is me.” That “yes” is a moment of pause that readies the nervous system. That “yes” is a beckoning to the vitalizing cascade of positive affects that erupt from inspiration. The moment of recognition is a quantum moment, and then there is the ever-after. “New thoughts, choices, and, most importantly, new capacities arise spontaneously and lead to new pursuits and experiences, which, accompanied by positive affect, bring more energy into the system and recharge and spiral yet again…but this is not about restoration to baseline: It is about the activation of new resources and capacities, which could have never been imagined, much less predicted, at the outset” (Fosha, 2011, pp. 201-202).

Perhaps there is a surrendering in inspiration as well, a giving over of oneself, emotionally and somatically, to the experience of the other.

True Other

“We are shaped by a deep desire to be known, seen, and recognized (Sander, 1995, 2002), as we strive to come into contact with parts of ourselves that are frozen (Eigen, 1996). Along with needing to be known authentically, we have a need to know the other (Buber, 1965; Ghent, 1990), a profound and undeveloped aspect of attachment. In the process of radical change, we become more ourselves than ever before, and recognize ourselves to be so” (Fosha, 2008).

Hillenbrand demonstrates a beneficent true otherness: she hones in on her subjects resilient qualities, she absorbs the energy of these qualities and transports those energic qualities for her readers, into her inspiring narration.

We must be capable of a particular frame of mind in order to allow the experience of another to have such a deep and enduring, even transformational effect upon us. This frame of mind involves a capacity to receive. Hughes’ explication on intersubjectivity is applicable and helpful. He states, “The original emotional expression and its reception by the other is now transformed into a joint emotional experience of deep engagement that, in turn, may be transforming to each. Each now knows the other in a more profound manner, while each is equally known by the other. Both are absorbed in their shared, living moment. In short, the original emotional expressions serve as bridges into the worlds of each other. The emerging experience of emotional absorption serves as a transforming experience for both within their newly shared world” (Hughes, 2011, p. 231).

There is much to gain in the ability to viscerally extend our minds and hearts toward understanding the essence of another – thereby becoming inspired and experiencing our own resilient capacities recharged. True Otherness applies not only to our loved ones and our clients, but also to the characters we read about in the quiet corners of suspended life. In the keen words of another Amazon reader reviewing Seabiscuit, “It also gives us a valuable lesson in listening to the heart of someone we care about and understanding what that person (or horse) is really about” (Buich, 2001).

Hillenbrand provides us with precise examples of True Otherness and, as we shall see, demonstrates how receptivity to the True Other promises triumphant change:

Seabiscuit was a horse that would respond to nothing less than an extraordinary True Other. He would not give over his talents to just any trainer or jockey. In fact, he secreted them away until he met the person who could honor his willfulness for what it was – his dignity.

“But Smith knew what he was seeing. Seabiscuit’s competitive instincts had been turned backward. Instead of directing his efforts against his opponents, he was directing them against the handlers who tried to force him to run. He habitually met every command with resistance. He was feeding off the fight, gaining satisfaction from the distress and rage of the man on his back. Smith knew how to stop it. He had to take coercion out of the equation and let the horse discover the pleasure of speed” (Hillenbrand, 2003 p. 120).

“Pollard saw that if this horse was pushed around, all he would do was push back. Smith knew he had found the right jockey. Smith and Pollard made a point of allowing Seabiscuit to do as he pleased” (Hillenbrand, 2003, p. 120).

Recognizing the talent dormant in the horse and in one another, they began a rehabilitation of Seabiscuit that would lift him, and them, from obscurity” (Hillenbrand, 2003, p. 1).

And for Louie Zamperini, the subject of Unbroken, it was his brother’s wise recognition that turned his life around:

“In 1930, 16-year-old Pete (Zamperini) pierced through the heart of his prized self-will and offered something better… the offering was perfect because it came from an understanding. Pete told the principal that “Louie craved attention but had never won it in the form of praise, so he sought it in the form of punishment. If Louie were recognized for doing something right, he’d turn his life around. He asked the principal to allow Louie to join a sport. (p. 13) … “He gained recognition and praise. Shocked by what he could do, he became motivated by an unknown talent that lay inside… Pete insisted on it… believed when there was no evidence to believe, when Louie himself refused to believe.” (Hillenbrand, 2011, p. 17)

“Isn’t this the essence of a True Other? … Something in the patient brings forward in the True Other exactly what the patient needs on some level, and then the patient feels ‘met’ or ‘seen’” (Benau, 2010).

A Genre of Resilience: Volition

Hillenbrand’s stories are about the honor and dignity of a recalcitrant boy (Louie Zamperini, the subject of Unbroken), a willful horse and an improbable jockey (Seabiscuit and Red Pollard of Seabiscuit), whose refusal to be mastered led to traumatic consequences and near defeat, necessitating a surrendering of trust to a True Other, and ultimately triumphant mastery.


As an adaptation-based psychotherapy…AEDP assumes that psychopathology reflects a person’s best efforts at adapting to an environment that was a poor match for the person’s emotional and/or self-expression. Thus, even the most self-destructive or disturbed presentations can be seen as manifesting hope, self-preservation and ingenuity (Russell & Fosha, 2008).

Resilience comes in endless flavors. I will focus on this particularly compelling one, defiance. The dominant character trait of Hillenbrand’s subjects, Seabiscuit and Louie Zamperini, is defiance. Defiance, from an AEDP perspective, can be understood as an honorable effort at upholding one’s dignity against forces that aim to break the spirit. We tenderly, passionately, admire our rebels, for their vulnerable grit, for example, McMurphy (hero of the book, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey (1962), the WWII POW’s whose dangerous antics Hillenbrand (2010) lovingly resurrects, and Rosa Parks…the list is long. Our uplift is tempered by the awareness that our rebels don’t always fare well; defiance may be broken down by relentless cruelty or relentless love.

As for Louie Zamperini, Hillenbrand states, “Mr. Zamperini owes this resiliency to his rebellious nature. Defiance defines Louie. As a boy he was a hell-raiser. He refused to be corralled. When someone pushed him he pushed back. That made him an impossible kid but an unbreakable man… Confident that he was clever, resourceful, and bold enough to escape any predicament, he was almost incapable of discouragement. When history carried him into war, this resilient optimism would define him. The same attributes that had made him the boy terror of Torrance… sustained him in the greatest struggle of his life” (Hillenbrand, as quoted in Oney, 2010).

“Anthony Zamperini was at his wits’ end. The police always seemed to be on the front porch, trying to talk sense into Louie. There were neighbors to be apologized to and damages to be compensated for with money that Anthony couldn’t spare. Adoring his son but exasperated by his behavior, Anthony delivered frequent, forceful spankings. Once, after he’d caught Louie wiggling through a window in the middle of the night, he delivered a kick to the rear so forceful that it lifted Louie off the floor. Louie absorbed the punishment in tearless silence, then committed the same crimes again, just to show he could.” Hillenbrand, (2010, pp. 45-46)

“As dangerous as these acts were, for the POWs, they were transformative. In risking their necks to sabotage their enemy, the men were no longer passive captives. They were soldiers again. What the POWs couldn’t sabotage, they stole. They broke into shipping boxes, tapped bottles, lifted storage room doors off their hinges, raided ships’ galleys, and crawled up factory chutes.” Hillenbrand, (2010, p. 243)

Regarding Seabiscuit, Hillenbrand (2003) writes, “Humans aren’t the only creatures to seek mastery and rebel at being mastered” (p.128).

“While every other horse at the track raised hell demanding breakfast, he slept long and late, stretching out over the floor of his stall in such deep sedation that the grooms had to use every means in their power just to get him to stand up.” (Hillenbrand, 2003, pp. 45-46).

Fitzsimmons remembered later. “He was almost too quiet, too docile.” Fitzsimmons began to wonder if this horse might be just as obstreperous as his sire, only much more cunning in his methods. His father had raged; Seabiscuit seemed … amused. “He struck me,” Fitzsimmons said, “as a bird that could sing but wouldn’t unless we made him” (Hillenbrand, 2003, p. 46).

When defiance is broken down by relentless cruelty, a spirit is broken. When defiance is broken down by relentless love, completeness into oneself is found. A rush of energy, once funneled into a single well of defiance, springs forth and washes over all possibilities of self.

Surrender: From mastery of survival to mastery of self-at-best

“Paradoxically, the therapeutic situation, when it is at its most powerful, uncomfortably shares essential elements with the trauma situation (though, needless to say, also with crucial differences). It requires vulnerability and surrender: the vulnerability to trust and to be open and to allow another, the therapist, and a process, the therapy, to have an impact; and the surrender to surrender to one’s inner experience, to letting something of uncertain ending, take one over” (Fosha, 2001b).

A True Other coaxes his charge to surrender the energies of defiance to energies of productive mastery of self. And, for the vitality of defiance to realize its true objective – freedom of the complete self – it requires the steadfastness of a True Other. As promising and delicious as it may seem, the prospect is fraught, and requires tremendous courage. The moment of giving up self-honoring defiance and surrendering in faith to another’s faith, is, in itself, a quantum moment. I think of the baby on the glass cliff experiment – that moment of decision… should I defy my natural instincts and stay put, or should I crawl to mommy’s outstretched arms and risk falling off the cliff? (Gibson & Walk, 1960).

The two turning points in Louie’s life happened when harsh reality confronted him with a True Other holding up a mirror to his True Self. The first was when his brother Pete encouraged him to run, the second, when Billy Graham encouraged him to surrender his pain to God. A choice had to be made: let loose the fingering grip on his prideful defiance, or surrender to another’s faith in his complete possibilities, still unknown to him. Each time he surrendered an astounding transformation resulted.

“Louie was on the raft. There was gentle Phil crumpled up before him, Mac’s breathing skeleton, endless ocean stretching away in every direction, the sun lying over them, the cunning bodies of the sharks, waiting, circling. He was a body on a raft, dying of thirst. He felt words whisper from his swollen lips. It was a promise thrown at heaven, a promise he had not kept, a promise he had allowed himself to forget until just this instant: If you will save me, I will serve you forever. And then, standing under a circus tent on a clear night in downtown Los Angeles, Louie felt rain falling. It was the last flashback he would ever have. Louie let go of Cynthia and turned toward Graham. He felt supremely alive. He began walking. “This is it,” said Graham. “God has spoken to you. You come on” (Hillenbrand, 2010, p. 375)

And, in the case of Seabiscuit:

Smith spoke to the horse in nearly inaudible tones, calling him Son and touching him lightly when he needed him to turn. Seabiscuit understood him and always did as asked. In moments of uncertainty, the horse would pause and look for Smith. When he found his trainer, the horse would relax. Smith taught him that he could trust his trainer and rider, and this became the foundation for the trials the three would share over the next five years. (Hillenbrand, 2003, p. 124)

“So long as you treat him like a gentleman,” said Pollard, “he’ll run his heart out for you…” (Hillenbrand, 2003, p. 124)


When transformational activities are satisfying and pleasurable and marked by recognition processes, doing them makes us become who we feel ourselves to be… Positive emotions provide both the motivation and the fuel for that rewiring, broadening and building what we deem “self” and bringing us full circle—but on a spiral. For we are not the self, the “me,” we started with: In the process of traveling, not only our destination but our point of departure has also changed.” (Fosha, 2011, p. 203).

While the above quote applies to Louie Zamperini and to Seabiscuit, it also applies to their readers holding those precious lives in their ‘true-other’ mind/heart. It is through the reader’s engagement in the full cycle of defiance-surrender-triumph that we emerge inspired. This, then, is a transformational engagement.

“The fire that had kept Seabiscuit frustrated and unruly now fueled a bounding will to win (Hillenbrand, 2003, pp.128-129).

“Seabiscuit stood square under his head-to-toe blanket, posed in the stance of the conqueror, head high, ears pricked, eyes roaming the horizon, nostrils flexing with each breath, jaw rolling the bit around with cool confidence. He was a new horse” (Hillenbrand, 2003, p.127).

“On the track, once the forum for rebellion, he displayed blistering speed and bulldog tenacity” (Hillenbrand, 2003, p.127).

“Resting in the shade and the stillness, Louie felt profound peace. When he thought of his history, what resonated with him now was not all that he had suffered but the divine love that he believed had intervened to save him. He was not the worthless, broken, forsaken man that the Bird had striven to make of him. In a single, silent moment, his rage, his fear, his humiliation and helplessness, had fallen away. That morning, he believed, he was a new creation. Softly, he wept” (Hillenbrand, 2010, p. 376).

Louie’s body gave no quarter to age or punishment. In time, even his injured leg healed. When Louie was in his sixties, he was still climbing Cahuenga Peak every week and running a mile in under six minutes. In his seventies, he discovered skateboarding. At eighty-five, he returned to Kwajalein on a project, ultimately unsuccessful, to locate the bodies of the nine marines whose names had been etched in the wall of his cell. “When I get old,” he said as he tossed a football on the Kwajalein beach, “I’ll let you know.” When he was ninety, his neighbors looked up to see him balancing high in a tree in his yard, chain saw in hand. “When God wants me, he’ll take me,” he told an incredulous Pete. “Why the hell are you trying to help him?” Pete replied. Well into his tenth decade of life, between the occasional broken bone, he could still be seen perched on skis, merrily cannonballing down mountains.” (Hillenbrand, 2010, pp. 383-384).

“And thus, yes, we emerge enlarged, changed, transformed, bigger and better and more complex than before. But in a funny paradoxical way, evolution aside, bigger and better is not quite accurate. In essence, through the process of transformation of which core state is a culmination, for better and worse, we become increasingly ourselves. In the language of core state, guided by the truth sense, cascading transformations lead us toward becoming increasingly “clearer and simpler” (Ondaatje, 2000) to ourselves (Fosha, 2005).

As we AEDP clinicians know, seeded within the traumatic response, is the potential for receptivity to influences of healing. As Fosha (2001a) states, “Trauma reveals the roots of resiliency.” Through my process of reading the books by Hillenbrand that so profoundly inspired me, and writing about her works, and editing along with my editor, Natasha Prenn, I have experienced that the roots of resilience lay in our receptivity to the influence of a True Other. Because of my identification with the subjects of this review – that is, because of my True Other relationship to my subjects, I have felt uplifted to carry on when technical writing problems caused me agonizing self-doubt. Moreover, Natasha’s accurate and spacious editing felt like a literal leg up when I believed I was at the limits of my ability. Such a light, but ‘just right’ touch inspired me to go much further than I believed I could. So, in fact, this is not about “good enough.” “Good enough” is good enough for resilience. Just right is perfect for quantum resilience.

A practical clinical application is that, from here on, I will wonder with my clients about inspirational moments in their lives. In doing so I hope to guide my clients to appreciate more fully their quantum resilient capacities; to recognize anew their receptivity to the True Others in their lives; and to appreciate their True Other’s perfection in giving something so ‘just right,’ that we are scaffolded into the realms of quantum resilience. I will also ask my clients to think of those whose lives they have impacted by virtue of their ‘just right’ True Otherness. How might it be, then, to be inspired by one’s own life?!


[1]. Seabiscuit was a cultural icon in the depression era when horseracing was a national obsession. “The triumph of Seabiscuit is ultimately the story of what any person (or animal) may accomplish when their talents are recognized, supported, and expanded. Seabiscuit, given his inauspicious start in life, could just as easily have faded away into non-existence running third tier races. However, the love and care he receives from his owner, jockey, and trainer have you cheering until the end of the book for Seabiscuit to keep running (and winning) with his heart. Not only does Seabiscuit capture the hearts of the misfit trio, he will capture yours” (A Customer, 2003).

[2]. As briefly as possible, Louie Zamperini was, by all accounts, a delinquent child, who, by his brother’s persistence, carried his runaway speed onto the 1936 Olympic team. Slated to be the first to break the 4-minute mile, Zamperini, was drafted into the air force during WWII. After surviving a record 47 days at sea in an ill fitted raft when his B-24 was crashed, he was picked up by the Japanese. He survived years in POW camps, only to come home with severe PTSD. Years of alcoholism and self-destruction followed until his wife forced him to attend a Billy Graham sermon. In a graphic internal struggle, he experienced a quantum moment, and surrendered his pain to God. Never having another drink or flashback, he became an inspirational speaker and opened camps for delinquent boys. To this day, he is alive and thriving. You can see this for yourself on YouTube videos.

[3]. “Core affective experiences include the primary emotions (anger, joy, fear, etc.), self experiences and self states (feeling vulnerable, lonely, powerful, etc.) and relational experiences (feeling close, distant, alienated, intimate, etc.). The visceral experiencing of core affect, in concert with an accepting other, produces a transformation in the patient’s emotional state, in which adaptive resources accessed and released. In emotion theory, the new capacities accessed by the visceral experience of emotion are called adaptive action tendencies, and it is their power to heal and enhance the individual’s functioning that we seek to tap in our therapeutic efforts” (Fosha, 2001b).

[4]. Transformance is the term for the overarching motivation that pulses within us (Fosha, 2008). “Innate dispositional tendencies toward growth, learning, healing, and self-righting are wired deep within our brains and press toward expression when circumstances are right. Unlike the conservative motivational strivings under the aegis of resistance, which, in the long run, consume and drain psychic energy, transformance-based motivational strivings, when actualized, are energizing and vitalizing” (Fosha, 2011 p. 174).

[5] “Metatherapeutic processing, or metaprocessing for short, is a quintessential contribution of AEDP, stemming from the discovery that focusing on the experience of transformation itself unleashes a transformational process, through which changes are consolidated, deepened and expanded” Fosha (2011, p. 187). Embedded within metaprocessing of the transformational experience is the processing of the therapeutic relationship that co-created the conditions for the transformation to occur.

[6]. Recognition is a hard wired process enabling the assimilation of change processes, and it also a subjective experience, such that we are altered but ever-more the self we know ourselves to be. Fosha states, “Recognition, specific and precise, occurs when there is “a moment of fittedness (Sander, 2002, p. 19). My usage of recognition includes, but goes beyond, the relational experience of being known: It refers to all experiences that occur whenever there is a match, a “click” between something inside and something outside, however inside and outside are subjectively defined… {it is a} formal process and as receptive experience” (Fosha, 2011, p.178).


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