Monthly Article Archives: December 2012

Stories about Charismatic Adults: Relationships that Change LivesRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

In my October, 2012 article I focused on one of my favorite topics, that of a “charismatic adult.” As I have often noted, it was a description introduced by the late psychologist Julius Segal. He emphasized that children who overcome adversity and become resilient do so in great part because of the presence in their lives of a charismatic adult, that is, a person from whom “a child or adolescent gathers strength.” I was immediately drawn to this definition while reading an article authored by Segal in 1988. I found the image of “gathering strength” to be very powerful and in concert with a major finding in the resilience research literature. When individuals who had persevered in spite of challenging childhoods were asked to reflect upon what factors contributed to their success and optimism, an almost universal response was that there was at least one adult in their lives who steadfastly believed in and supported them. Their resilience was rooted in great part in their interaction with this charismatic adult. My friend and colleague Sam Goldstein and I expanded upon the age range in which charismatic adults have influence. We emphasized that not only youngsters but adults as well need

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