Michael J. Kerrigan



Readers have asked me to share a solid definition of Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). The following article by CLAIRE DOROTIK-NANA, LMFT  does just that.

Depression is debilitating. Heartbreaking. Hard to get over. Well, just depressing. For depressed people, the news is not good.

But wait…It’s not the truth either.

And there is an entire field of study that shows that the things that often lead to depression — trauma, setbacks, stress, adversity — can have just the opposite effect, meaning they don’t lead to depression. Instead they lead to growth.

It’s called post-traumatic growth.

And studies on post-traumatic growth show that after major life traumas more people show post-traumatic growth than PTSD (Morris, Finch, Scott, 2007).

So just what is post-traumatic growth, you ask?

Post-traumatic growth can be defined as the positive psychological change that results from the attempt to find new meaning and resolve after a traumatic… Continue reading

Although several thousand copies of my first book, Politics with Principle: 10 Character with Character were purchased, there were scores of readers who quipped, how in your 34-year career as a lobbyist did you find ten politicians with character? The character market seemed not receptive to stories of politicians with character.

Because perseverance is among the virtues needed not only for authors but those faced with adversity, I authored my second book and was pleasantly surprised with the reaction to, Courage in America: 7 Warriors with Character. Not only were more copies sold than the first book but also interest in the stories of courage of our servicemen and women has not faded but remains strong.


I remain dedicated to my mission, that is, to foster character building strengths, relationships and meaning in a rising generation of citizens by sharing the stories of successful and ethical leaders who presently… Continue reading

First I wish to honor the “Supersurvivors” not only as portrayed in the book but also many others who have triumphed over trauma.Secondly, I wish to thank the authors for taking on this topic so important to so many servicemen, law enforcement officials and those suffering from all types of trauma.Notwithstanding, the many fine stories demonstrating the links between suffering and success, I was disappointed the authors were not more forthcoming about admitting their own not so hidden ideological agenda.In the remainder of this review, I will point out that which I see as the authors’ style as a polemicist and offer excerpts from the book to share my view as to what appears to me to an ideological agenda driven slant. To be fair to the authors, one should read the entire book so that the excerpts can understood in the context the authors meant.The cultural worldview of the… Continue reading

The Huffington Post

By Alena Hall

Posted: 07/08/2014 7:39 am EDT  |  Updated: 07/08/2014 7:59 am EDT

Humans have a remarkable capacity for resilience. Over and over, we hear stories of people who, after trauma and adversity, pick themselves up, put the pieces back together, and go on with their lives.

But for many, there’s a place beyond recovery. For this group, life’s most difficult experiences prompt them not only to bounce back, but to bounce forward. These are the people who David B. Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz spotlight in their new book, Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success. They define a supersurvivor as “a person who has dramatically transformed his or her life after surviving a trauma, accomplishing amazing things or transforming the world for the better.”

By telling the stories of those who created better lives for themselves following a… Continue reading

Adm. McRaven

By Daniel P. Crandall

Chair, PTG Sports Caucus


When the issue is helping wounded warriors, be they veterans or active duty personnel, no solution should be off the table. A recent difference between Admiral William McRaven, leader of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and the House Armed Services Committee, unfortunately, is not following this truism. Adm. McRaven sought funding for what might be considered a ‘both/and’ approach to minimize the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Injuries (PTSI—a designation many prefer over the more commonly known PTSD diagnosis). Legislators, however, declared there is only one method to help veterans at risk and that is the only method they are willing to fund.

On 15 May, the Washington Post reported that Adm. McRaven had requested additional funding “to hire physical therapists, dietitians, sports psychologists and strength and conditioning specialists to work with troops” in order to address the increasing rate of… Continue reading

Dear friends and family!

I will be participating on a panel in May in NYC discussing war, sports and trauma.  I would love for all of you to attend if possible.  If not, I would love to find time to link up and catch up on life!

I miss you all and look forward to crossing paths with as many of you as possible between May 19-21.

Here is the information (Feel free to share with others):

On May 20th at the New York Stock Exchange we are presenting the event War, Sports and the Healing Power of Nature.

I’m writing to request your assistance — as a valued supporter — would you consider being on the Host Committee? The event is to bring attention to the issue of brain injury and post-traumatic stress for veterans and the power that… Continue reading

Matthieu Aikins lives in Kabul and has been reporting from Afghanistan since 2008. My commentary includes a few excerpts of Aikins well researched article published in Popular Science in March 2013.

Matthieu Aikins

Matthieu Aikins

Aikins deftly traces the history of the trauma of war dating back from Homer’s writing of the Iliad through the Vietnam War to present time combat in Afghanistan. He is among the very few journalist to report on the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) program that seeks to prevent Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)

CSF2 divides resilience into five areas of fitness: emotional, physical, social, family, and spiritual. By embracing this philosophy, the Army has ostensibly become concerned not only with the ability of its soldiers to shoot straight, march far, and obey orders, but also with their feelings, friendships, marital relations, and spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof).

Aikins cites Lt. Col. Richard Toye, Aikins… Continue reading



In their recently published… POST TRAUMATIC GROWTH IN CLINICAL PRACTICE, Doctors Calhoun and Tedeschi neatly navigate between the shoals of the psychotherapist and the layman; balancing both the requirements of scientific research while providing we, laypeople with practical tools leading to a better understanding of those suffering trauma, and the few among them, on the road to post-traumatic growth (PTG.)

The work of these two psychologists who have pioneered the concept of post-traumatic growth should be encouraged by us all and supported by the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health. I have not met either man but was already motivated to learn more of PTG by Doctor Tedeschi’s influential paper: “Can We Facilitate Post-traumatic Growth in Combat Veterans.” The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is fortunate indeed to have two of the most prominent psychologists in the world, making breakthroughs on post-traumatic growth.

Calhoun and… Continue reading

Modern medicine usually considers trauma — both the physical and the psychological kinds — as unequivocally damaging. Now researchers at Tel Aviv Univ. are lending support to a more philosophical view of suffering, finding that trauma, however terrible, may have distinct psychological benefits.
Last year, junior investigator Sharon Dekel and Prof. Zahava Solomon of TAU’s Bob Shapell School of Social Work found that individuals with Holocaust-survivor parents may be less likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of their own traumas. In a study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, the researchers set out to see if so-called second-generation Holocaust survivors also undergo more post-traumatic “growth.”
“Post-traumatic growth can be defined as a workable coping mechanism, a way of making and finding meaning involved in the building of a more positive self-image and the perception of personal strength,” says Dekel. “We were interested in studying the… Continue reading

Yesterday I was honored to discuss Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) at West Point not only with Cadets and Officers there, but also with such caring individuals as Doctor Caroline Angel whose reaction follows.

Mr. Kerrigan,

Thank you so much for your presentation this evening. I really enjoyed hearing
about the Warriors you profiled in your book and I am looking forward to
reading it.

I think the discussion of post traumatic growth is an incredibly important one. While I was driving home from USMA, I started thinking about PTG in the context of the health literature. As I mentioned, I am very much a student of this growing area of research and, dare I say, practice.

The story of trauma at least from the health perspective is lopsided (a quick
search of PUB med yielded a paltry 300 hits for posttraumatic growth and over
10,800 for posttraumatic stress); it is… Continue reading

This afternoon, I had the distinct please of meeting with Rafael Triana, the psychologist, clinician and former Combat Veteran (Marine awarded the Bronze Star) who shared lessons one can learn in order to better understand Post Traumatic Growth’s place on the injury continuum of care.

I wish to share with the readers of the Character Building Project, Rafael’s approach to understanding and applying Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) to those with Post Traumatic Stress Injuries (PTSI).

An issue Dr. Triana raised for those interested in PTG is to consider: when, how and with whom to use PTG in dealing with those diagnosed with having posttraumatic stress injuries? The good professor raised questions about PTG that need to be answered. He opined as to the effects of military training and offered helpful suggestions for further inquiry.

Here follow excerpts from Rafael’s tutorial.

Critique the current literature of PTG, studying both the pros… Continue reading

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Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.