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The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook--What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing Paperback – December 25, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In beautifully written, fascinating accounts of experiences working with emotionally stunted and traumatized children, child psychiatrist Perry educates readers about how early-life stress and violence affects the developing brain. He offers simple yet vivid illustrations of the stress response and the brain's mechanisms with facts and images that crystallize in the mind without being too detailed or confusing. The stories exhibit compassion, understanding and hope as Perry paints detailed, humane pictures of patients who have experienced violence, sexual abuse or neglect, and Perry invites the reader on his own journey to understanding how the developing child's brain works. He learns that to facilitate recovery, the loss of control and powerlessness felt by a child during a traumatic experience must be counteracted. Recovery requires that the patient be "in charge of key aspects of the therapeutic interaction." He emphasizes that the brain of a traumatized child can be remolded with patterned, repetitive experiences in a safe environment. Most importantly, as such trauma involves the shattering of human connections, "lasting, caring connections to others" are irreplaceable in healing; medications and therapy alone cannot do the job. "Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love," Perry concludes. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Although many parents fret over how to raise a more academically and financially successful child, Perry has learned a thing or two about how not to raise a prospective sociopath. Here he shares the stories of several children he has encountered in his decades as a child psychiatrist and expert on childhood trauma. Each child, from the seven-year-old who offered him sexual favors to the eponymous boy who spent his early years living in a dog cage, taught Perry something about the effects of early childhood trauma on brain development. His discoveries contradict the formerly held precept that children are emotionally resilient and will outgrow insults to their psyches. On the contrary, he says, severe and occasionally even not-so-severe emotional or physical abuse can chemically alter early brain development, resulting later in the inability to make appropriate, socially sanctioned behavioral decisions. Perry doesn't promote what he calls the "abuse excuse" for antisocial or criminal behavior; rather, he makes a powerful case for early intervention for disruptive children to prevent adult sociopathy. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (December 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465056539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465056538
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (456 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

144 of 144 people found the following review helpful By Karen Franklin on April 29, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Connie L. Sirnio on February 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Funky Mo-Unky on July 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
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.
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The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook--What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing
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