Being of Jewish origin, he was entrusted to protection from a foster family. In 1943 he was taken with adults in a nazi-led capture in Bordeaux. He avoided detention by hiding for a while in the restrooms and later being hidden from Nazi searches as a working boy under the false name Jean laborde in a farm until the end of the war. His survival of nazi destruction motivated his career into psychiatry. Both his parents were arrested and murdered during World War II. He studied medicine at the University of Paris. He wrote several books of popular science on psychology. He is known in France for developing and explaining to the public the concept of Psychological resilience.
La Plus Belle Histoire des animaux, collectif, ed. Seuil, 2006.
Si les lions pouvaient parler. Essais sur la condition animale, under direction of Boris Cyrulnik, ed. Gallimard, coll. "Quarto", Paris, 1998,.
Boris Cyrulnik, "Instinct/Attachement", in Dictionnaire de la sexualité humaine, 200 blurbs by 122 coauthors, under direction of Philippe Brenot, ed. L'Esprit du temps, coll. "Les Dictionnaires", Paris, 2004, 736 pages, and Les Objets de la psychiatrie, conceptual dictionary, 230 blurbs by 150 auteurs, under direction of Yves Pélicier, ed. L'Esprit du temps, collection "Les Dictionnaires", Paris, 1997, 650 pages.
Boris Cyrulnik and Claude Seron (dir.), La Résilience ou Comment renaître de sa souffrance, ed. Fabert, coll. "Penser le monde de l'enfant", Paris, 2004 (ISBN 2-907164-80-5).
Nicolas Martin, Antoine Spire, François Vincent and Boris Cyrulnik, La Résilience. Entretien avec Boris Cyrulnik, ed. Le Bord de l'eau, coll. "Nouveaux Classiques", Lormont, France, 2009, 111 pages (ISBN 978-2356870261).
Nous étions des enfants, introductory Talk to 10 DVD set made by Jean-Gabriel Carasso and produced by L'oizeau rare with the Comité École de la rue Tlemcen. This work presents 18 testimonies of children deported or hidden, because of being Jews, during the Second World War.