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on April 29, 2008
Assisted by a talented science writer, child psychiatrist Bruce Perry presents a series of heartbreaking stories of children severely damaged by trauma. But that's only one side of this remarkable book. The other side is how many of these profoundly damaged children were assisted to heal.

Perry explains his "neurosequential" approach that sequentially targets brain regions left undeveloped by abuse or neglect. He presents compelling cases to illustrate how the child's age at the time of the abuse or neglect will determine the gaps in neurological development and how his interventions sequentially target those developmental gaps. For children whose brains were stalled out in infancy, for example, therapy may start with healing touch or rhythm before moving on to higher brain activities.

The focus, always, is on the child's humanity. Perry explains the importance of listening and letting the child set the pace. He warns of the damage caused by well-intentioned but poorly trained therapists who push children to open up, or who administer punitive interventions in the guise of treatment. Healing is not about a specific technique administered in cookbook fashion but, rather, about love, and restoring shattered human connections.

This is an enlightening and heartening book and a real page-turner to boot. The neurological underpinnings of the trauma theory are presented in clear English accessible to anyone who can read. If you're a mental health professional, psychologist, or psychiatrist, you'll love this book. If you're a parent or a teacher, it's also for you. Whoever you are, it's for you. I guarantee you will be engaged and inspired.
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on February 3, 2007
Thank you, Dr. Perry! Finally, what foster and adoptive parents knew all along...Love does heal these traumatized children! As a former foster parent, an adoptive and birth parent, and a child and family therapist, I am overjoyed to see these stories in print. It is a difficult task to find help and have professionals actually understand that this child sees the world differently for a neurodevelopmental reason, and not just because they are oppositional. Dr. Perry has shared this information in a way that anyone who reads it will think differently, with his incredible storytelling. It is so important for children with prenatal and postnatal trauma to be understood and to matter. Neurodevelopmental principles are not that difficult to put into place at home, school, or in the community. Children must experience success on a daily basis, at their individual neurodevelopmental pace. I have seen it work in many children.

Dr. Perry puts it very simple when he stated in this book:

"For years mental health professionals taught people that they could be psychologically healthy without social support, that "unless you love yourself, no one else will love you." Women were told that they didn't need men, and vice versa. People without any relationships were believed to be as healthy as those who had many. These ideas contradict the fundamental biology of human species: we are social mammals and could never have survived without deeply interconnected and interdependent human contact. The truth is, you cannot love yourself unless you have been loved and are loved. The capacity to love cannot be built in isolation."

This book is a must read for anyone working with traumatized children, raising healthy children, or just raising each other!

Connie Sirnio, MSW, LCSW

Child and Family Therapist

PsyD Learner in Clinical Psychology

Coos Bay, Oregon
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on July 13, 2011
There are plenty of books out there that tell the horror stories of traumatized children, and it is for this reason that I have avoided reading them for years. A lot of books like this border on sensationalizing these stories. This is not one of those books. I cannot tell you how impactful reading this book was for me. The heart of this book lies as much in the broken hearts of the children in the stories as it is in the passion of the author, Dr. Perry, to help them. His approach to treating traumatized children should be how all people approach children in general.

I have often thought that Attachment theory could answer a lot of the problems our society faces. This book offers a very unique and creative approach to fixing that problem. That isn't to say that this book is about attachment theory, but it is about the importance of relationships within the context of community. Each story in this book lays out an underpinning of how a relationship can fail a child with disastrous consequences, and how a nurturing relationship can impact more than just the individual child.

Just based on this book and my own work in therapy and with preschool children I can tell you that Dr. Perry's unique neurosequential approach to therapy makes sense, and I wouldn't doubt that it works. I loved how he laid out the book approaching different areas of the brain with each case. While I personally would've loved more indepth descriptions of how the trauma affected certain areas of the brain and more specific underlying neuroscience behind the treatments...I can appreciate how this book is written. It is not muddled down in science or technical terminology. It has enough science to be intriguing but it is written so anyone can read and understand how trauma effects a child's brain, and despite my own scientific interests, making this information accessible to everyone is extremely important. I loved that aspect about this book. (but perhaps one day he'll put out a supplemental book for us neuroscience geeks!) The format of this book is also very well laid out. The beginning stories are a bit more harsh to read, and some don't have the happiest of endings, but through each story Dr. Perry expresses what he learned from each case and relates it back to previous chapters or other similar stories and how it has continually shaped his approach. The second half of the book makes you feel very hopeful and optimistic as the stories just as harsh in nature turn out very differently in the end. It's a wonderful approach to writing a book like this. It left me feeling very disheartened, but hopeful every time I put it down (which was hard to do).

Another thing that I really, really appreciated about this book is that Dr. Perry is a very well known child trauma specialist, and he has a website with all kinds of training programs and different things he could have potentially pushed in this book. I cannot tell you how much it annoys me to read a book with a topic like this and the book is full of a the author pushing a product or an agenda. I had to actually research Dr. Perry to find out that he even offered training programs because none of it is mentioned in this book. The agenda of this book is children and trauma, and he sticks to that topic with more compassionate resolve than any book I've ever read. This is a fantastic book that should not be missed and I join with the rest of the reviewers on here in insisting that this be read by every parent, educator, social worker, therapist, psychologist, coach, television producer, and human alive. Great book. One of the best I've ever read.
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on March 3, 2008
This was a book I had a hard time putting down. The author is obviously highly intelligent and compassionate. After reading it, I want to read more by him, but it appears only articles--no books--are available. The book, without going into too much medicalese, explains how the brain is affected by trauma. The true life stories coupled with neurological explanations offer hope to those who have been traumatized and those who would understand them. I was astonished by the last chapter--or maybe it was one of the last?--that presented, for me, a novel way of influencing a child's peer group.
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on December 28, 2007
This is a powerful and insightful book. The patient stories are genuine and heart-wrenching, and the lessons about the human brain and its development ring true and offer refreshing and valuable perspectives on how the mind works. Dr. Perry shows, with a lucid honesty that belies any crass self-promotion, his therapeutic mastery. At the same time, the prose flows smoothly and I found myself easily drawn in to the very personal stories of these troubled children. In many cases I felt a palpable relief at the happy endings, in which a few basic insights into the core psychological issues led to a beneficial and effective course of therapy. I only wish the book was longer -- I devoured it quickly and could have happily read many more chapters! My only question now is who to lend it to first...
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on February 27, 2008
I have told numerous people about this book already. It is a great book with insight into what is necessary to be human in this mixed-up world. It is a sign of hope and offers an incredible new way of thinking about children, their environment and their brain. Dr. Perry has developed a new therapy "Neurosequential Model (NMT)" that offers a challenge to the traditional modes of therapy used by social workers, psychologists, etc. Taking both the environment AND the brain (nature and nurture) into consideration, he explains how he has attempted to re-train the brains of children who have faced severe trauma - with amazing results. He reminds us that change IS possible and that your history does not necessarily have to be your future! In the beginning, the book is a bit heavy on the science side of things (in order to give an intro to how the brain works) -which was a turn-off for me. However, after reading a few chapters it is easy to understand why the beginning heaviness is necessary to understand the rest of the book. This is an exciting time to be watching the field of trauma. Dr. Perry's work is revolutionary and the time has come for us to rethink how we treat trauma and other 'diagnosable' issues.
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and I really could understand how the treatments in this book (and Dr. Perry's therapy) could work on children with all types of diagnoses - not just trauma. Once we start thinking about how the brain is involved with various diagnoses and how to treat THAT, the possibilities seem almost endless... I just wish I could learn more about it and make it available to the clients I am working with in rural Alaska! Even if you are not in this field, this book is important and a great educator on 'what makes us the way we are' and how to think about changing that.
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on February 10, 2007
I am a mental health counseling student and am so happy that I ordered this book. The author has left in all the needed details to help understand the complexities of trauma on the brain and the later affects to a child's or adult's life. You may even discover something about your own confused background in the process. Once I picked up the book it was hard to put down even though I have SO much other required reading. This should be a required book because of the common sense approach. I learned a lot. I hope Dr Perry and Ms Szalavitz write more psychiatric books. The case choices were interesting and very detailed. Thank you for taking the extra time to get all the details in there. I know how hard it is to go the extra distance to make the reading more informative and accurate.
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on January 17, 2012
Unlike many books written on the subject of child trauma, psychology and psychiatry, Perry approaches his clients and their cases with a good balance between a biological/neurological view and psychological view of the effects of trauma on children. It discusses in simple language the biological changes which occur as a result of abuse or trauma in early brain development, and then revealing how those changes show themselves in subsequent behaviour and cognitions. Whilst other books written on similar topics tend to dwell on the almost "airy-fairy" psychological approaches to up a child's self-esteem, such as talking about love and cuddles; The Boy who was raised as a Dog discussed the importance of these things, without ignoring the biological, and evolutionary, reasons as to why humans need this type of affection.
The only frustration I had with this book was the amount of concluding statements put in. Whilst the rest of the book was written well, it was as though the concluding paragraphs of each chapter were written following the instructions of a high schooler's essay writing guide; referring back to each paragraph and re-stating each point. This was frustrating mainly because they were long-winded and unnecessary.
Overall, I found this book quite thought-provoking and gave me a good basic understanding of the neurosequential approach used by Perry and his colleagues.
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on March 27, 2008
I work in the child abuse field and I also adopted a traumatized child. This book provides honest and practical information about working with and living with a child who has been traumatized. The author maintained a sense of humor and encourages this in anyone reading the book. Some of the stories were incredibly sad. Many were filled with terror and loss of hope. However, in almost every situation, he was able to find hope for the child where none had been before.
I have shared this book with others at my place of work. The overwhelming review has been the same from all. Well done, must read for anyone in the field or thinking of becoming a foster parent or adoptive parent for a severely traumatized child.
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on August 23, 2011
I attended a seminar on the impact of domestic violence on children. This book was recomended. It is truly the most concise and understandable description of the impact of trauma on the growth and development of children I have every seen in my 32 years of family law practice.
Too often the history of DV in a family is discounted by the court in a desire to just move the case along and get routine parenting time established. The lack of services available for these families insures a continuation in the family system of trauma and DV for future generations. It is time for a national discussion on this issues and acknowledgment that children are not so "resilient" if left untreated - they don't just get over it.
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