Dr. Greg Moffatt, a regular columnist for the Healthwise section of this newspaper, is also a college professor, a licensed counselor and a public speaker. In addition to wearing those hats, he has served as a regular lecturer at the FBI Academy, as a profiler with the Atlanta Cold Case Squad and is also a published author. His latest book, which comes out today, is called “Survivors: What We Can Learn From How They Cope With Horrific Tragedy.”
During the course of doing research and writing this book, Moffatt spoke with individuals who survived incredible circumstances such as survivors of the Holocaust, violent crimes, the Rwandan genocide, spinal injury, abuse and more. The hope was to draw lessons that can prepare anyone, not just for dealing with trauma, but also every day struggles as well.
“One similarity I found in all of the subjects in this book was that they exhibited many of the same virtues,” Moffatt said. “Things like hope, gratitude and forgiveness. Whether or not they came from religious backgrounds, most of them described themselves as spirtual and shared these traits.”
“Survivor” was a long time in the making and it wasn’t by design. Moffatt started the book nearly 10 years ago after speaking with someone who’s story inspired the idea of how people can survive tragedies and seemingly insurmountable odds. Over the years he would encounter more and more people who one would think should be doing poorly after tragic incidences but weren’t. Moffatt began to look for people from diverse backgrounds and different, yet still with incredible and inspiring, survival stories.
“The goal for every story in the book is to have people say, ‘that was unbelievable’ after each one,” said Moffatt. “And yet they are all true. I was surprised at how much people had to go through. No matter how often I tell or hear the stories, I still am surprised. I don’t know if I would have the courage or the strength and none of us can know. ”
He looked for a patient at Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta and was able to follow one from incident through recovery. While in Rwanda for a government project, he talked to someone about his book and found a man who survived the genocide. Moffatt ran into writer’s block at one point and penned several other books since his work began on “Survivor,” but eventually the stories all came together and some big answers and connections were found.
One chapter discusses the seven lies that prevent recovery and they include many things that one might hear themselves say in every day life such as, “I can’t,” “I am alone and must do it on my own” and “I can never forgive,” among others. The survivors in this book were able to face and overcome terrible things and readers should be able to look at their stories as inspiration when faced with their own challenges.
The final chapter of the book is called “Meaning of Life.” Moffatt stated he doesn’t have the answer, but hopes he gives it perspective.
“The book evolved over the years,” said Moffatt. “It came down to what’s life all about? The meaning of life makes people want to survive – community, relationships, the recognition that the world is bigger than we are.” He added that if the book could be summed up in one word it would be hope.
For more information on Dr. Moffatt and this book, visit gregmoffatt.com