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on August 28, 1999
By Dr. Ian Irvine, co-editor The Animist Creating Sanctuary is a powerful piece of writing by an almost extinct professional breed - the psychiatrist/psychologist prepared to examine the bigger picture in regards to the causes of psychic distress in modern Western societies. The book undoubtably belongs to a long tradition of humanistic and Freudian writings on mental illness as produced by modern Western social structures. The title itself recalls Fromm's book 'The Sane Society' and I would argue that in many ways Bloom has given us a powerful update on themes covered in that now classic work. One also thinks of works by Arthur Janov (especially his work on trauma suppression), Alice Miller, De Mauss, Mickel Adzema, Wilhelm Reich (and the Bioenergetic tradition), Stanislav Grof and many others who have applied Freudian and Humanistic ideas to the social arena. In this sense the work is also in a kind of refracted dialogue with that great Freudian text Civilisation and its Discontents. The picture of modern society - particularly modern American society - painted for us by Bloom is not a pretty one. Sanity and psychic health is seen as a virtual impossibility in the face of a normalised climate of repression and institutionalised trauma creation. The central obsessions of our consumeristic, violence and money obsessed modern world are described in terms of a general malaise polluting and undermining the psychic integrity of individuals and collectives alike. Bloom accurately describes to us a world characterised by institutional harshness, denial (that there even is a crisis!) and outright disinterest in the truly important issues to do with trauma and violence that now shape our collective social psyches. In this climate, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other health care professionals seem all but unable to act in the best interests of their clients. In this sense, Bloom criticises the faceless bureacrats, lawyers and insurance moguls who increasingly shape and infringe upon the client patient relationship: often forcing psychiatrists to opt for functionalist alienated treatment regimes over potentially more humane and effective ones. The insight that society is not so much interested in curing people who have fallen victim to the collective (in)humanity we call a society, as in making money out of the later life effects of trauma suppression is a disturbing under-current to the book. There is a great deal to this book, far more than I could cover in a short review like this. The work is groundbreaking in its merged sociological and psychological methodology. More importantly, however, it stands as powerful indictment of the way in which modern societies act to undermine and subtly traumatise large sections of their populations. A must read.
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on July 31, 1998
A very moving account of the impact of violence on our lives and what it takes to create an environment where we can recover from our wounds. Dr. Bloom's call for a therapeutic approach to violence stands in stark contrast to popular proposals for meeting violence with more violence. In a violence-traumatized society, Creating Sanctuary belongs at the top of our social agenda.
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on March 11, 2014
Sandra Bloom has compiled a concise exposition of what ails us together with reasonable approaches to remedies.

Her own compassionate experiences and willingness to enter into the depths of human suffering among the mentally ill, her willingness to see the evidence of conventional wisdom failing thereby exploding her comfortable paradigms has created a new path to wellness. She presents a path to wellness and healing not only for the mentally ill and those who care for them, but also for our society.

I do not have degrees in psychology or medicine, but only years of working with homeless addicts and alcoholics as a lay person. Having walked with and lived with very sick people through the maze of social services available, medical care treatments, criminal justice systems, addiction recovery systems, family systems, I have seen how complex and widespread is the dysfunction of our society. Trauma Informed Care, as presented in Creating Sanctuary is a most reasonable answer, a "must read" for anyone who wants to understand what is happening not only to the "them" but to us as a society.

"Creating Sanctuary: Toward the evolution of Sane Societies" is scholarly enough for textbook study, deeply cross referenced in supporting studies to support a new vision. I intend to read this several times to allow the many nuances of understanding saturate my mind more fully.

My love of Christian spiritual values wants a clearer link to spiritual healing, Dr. Bloom does not discount spiritual values, and it is easy to see the correlations to spiritual principles through out the book. Bill W. of AA reports having a sudden spiritual awakening that changed his life and our response to alcoholism/addiction profoundly, but my experience appreciates that most people experience a slow unfolding of understanding their illness, how to live mentally healthy through an unfolding understanding of a higher power/God.. During that process of deconstructing and reconstructing a life, Sanctuary is necessary.

From my observation, most homeless people have slid into a lifestyle of alcoholism/addiction/mental illness from life trauma(s) that are seldom effectively addressed. The costs to society through the medical, judicial, Social Services agencies for this failure to address trauma is exorbitant. "Creating Sanctuary" can help us become more effective in solving overwhelming social ills at the same time of helping just one. Amazing
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on April 7, 1998
I enjoyed this book tremendously. This is the most understandable and clearly written text I have ever read relating to the psychology field. There is no "psycho babble" here, folks. Anybody with an eighth grade education should be able to understand what the author is trying to say.
The author obviously believes in treating patients with tremendous dignity and respect. While this program is mainly inpatient focused to benefit those of us who are unfortunate enough to need more than a little help in carrying our life's baggage, as it were, reading this book makes very clear to me the way in which many situations I faced as a child effect my adult life that I have never really completely understood. The author says, in the most compassionate and definitive way, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! The author should be commended for her fine work and that of her team of obviously exceptional and gifted health care providers. The author must be one of the "real doctors" in todays environment, and they are darned hard to find.
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on April 6, 2016
Sandra Bloom's three books regarding appropriate environments for trauma survivors are must-reads for professionals and families who deal with trauma survivors. I hope this gets much wider attention--mental health care often humiliates and endangers when it should protect and heal.

Sandra Bloom emphasizes the need for safety in ALL THREE of her books--a subject which is sadly neglected by authors pushing quick solutions and promises of healing. Another book which describes the dangers of talk therapy and exposure for victims of severe trauma and recommends safe alternatives is Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal by Belleruth Naparstek.
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on June 27, 2013
If you work in any human services field, buy this book, read it, absorb it, and do all in your power to implement its precepts. You will gain a better understanding of your clients, yourself, and the structures in which you work.
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on March 29, 2007
Goes way beyond blaming individuals for the horror of abuse, and holds the violent culture that abuse is embedded in accountable. Doesn't let individuals perpetrators off the hook, but is a window into the mechanism that produces them. Other people have addressed the topic of abuse and violence, but perhaps not as comprehensively as this book. Scary topic, but information and viewpoints needed to address this systemic illness.
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on June 24, 2013
We are implementing the Sanctuary model where I work. This book provides a background to help us understand the philosophies behind the sanctuary model. It can be very technical in some areas. Overall, the book is very good.
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on August 20, 2012
This book gives the background of trauma research and brain development that every human service professional needs. And it is very readable.
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on December 13, 2009
This book is special because it addresses clients who have been damaged by poor counseling and life traumas and counselors who have almost as much traumas as the clients. There are many counseling books out there but this book is wholesome.
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