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Out of the Woods

Out of the Woods

Tales of Resilient Teens

Stuart T. Hauser, Joseph P. Allen, Eve Golden

ISBN 9780674027343

Publication date: 04/30/2008

Seventy deeply troubled teenagers spend weeks, months, even years on a locked psychiatric ward. They’re not just failing in school, not just using drugs. They are out of control—violent or suicidal, in trouble with the law, unpredictable, and dangerous. Their futures are at risk.

Twenty years later, most of them still struggle. But astonishingly, a handful are thriving. They’re off drugs and on the right side of the law. They’ve finished school and hold jobs that matter to them. They have close friends and are responsible, loving parents.

What happened? How did some kids stumble out of the woods while others remain lost? Could their strikingly different futures have been predicted back during their teenage struggles? The kids provide the answers in a series of interviews that began during their hospitalizations and ended years later. Even in the early days, the resilient kids had a grasp of how they contributed to their own troubles. They tried to make sense of their experience and they groped toward an understanding of other people’s inner lives.

In their own impatient voices, Out of the Woods portrays edgy teenagers developing into thoughtful, responsible adults. Listening in on interviews through the years, narratives that are often poignant, sometimes dramatic, frequently funny, we hear the kids growing into more composed—yet always recognizable—versions of their tough and feisty selves.


  • Instead of focusing on the broad dimensions of risk and protection—genetic endowment, parenting, opportunity, and the social issues of money, education and status—[the authors] ask why resilient capacities develop in certain children, how they work and what we can do to nurture them. This liberating shift allows an imaginative drive into the psychological processes by which people can negotiate adversity… Out of the Woods marks several points of wide-ranging significance.

    —Terri Apter, Times Literary Supplement


  • Stuart T. Hauser is Senior Scientist at the Judge Baker Children’s Center and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
  • Joseph P. Allen is Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.
  • Eve Golden trained in psychiatry and is a writer and independent scholar in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Book Details

  • 336 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press