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Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror [Paperback]

Judith Herman
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 30, 1997 0465087302 978-0465087303 Reprint
When Trauma and Recovery was first published in 1992, it was hailed as a groundbreaking work. In the intervening years, Herman’s volume has changed the way we think about and treat traumatic events and trauma victims. In a new afterword, Herman chronicles the incredible response the book has elicited and explains how the issues surrounding the topic have shifted within the clinical community and the culture at large.Trauma and Recovery brings a new level of understanding to a set of problems usually considered individually. Herman draws on her own cutting-edge research in domestic violence as well as on the vast literature of combat veterans and victims of political terror, to show the parallels between private terrors such as rape and public traumas such as terrorism. The book puts individual experience in a broader political frame, arguing that psychological trauma can be understood only in a social context. Meticulously documented and frequently using the victims’ own words as well as those from classic literary works and prison diaries, Trauma and Recovery is a powerful work that will continue to profoundly impact our thinking.

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Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror + In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness + Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Herman links the public traumas of society to those of domestic life in this provocative work of psychiatric theory.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Herman links the public traumas of society to those of domestic life in this provocative work of psychiatric theory." ---Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (May 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465087302
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465087303
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
226 of 232 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars therapists and survivors: read chapter 5 June 8, 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Just read ch. 5 and you will be sold. As a person who has worked as a therapist with a variety of people and a variety of problems, I was stunned by the way that this book explains the impact of trauma. You need to read the concept of "complex ptsd," presented in ch. 6. Chs 5 and 6 elegantly present a framework for understanding people who have grown up in the fear of a terroristic household, whether with sexual abuse or not, whether with notable physical abuse or not. This framework acounts for the various problems suffered that are often described by clinicians as "borderline personality disorder," "somatization disorder," and other difficult/lets-ignore-them diagnoses. My feeling is that if you grew up in a scary, terroristic home, if you read chapter five you will believe this author was observing the whole time, and you may gain some insight into your own adult life and personality.
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101 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of art in the field of psychology August 22, 2001
By A Customer
Was Judith watching us at home? Did she hide in the closet and take notes? You'll wonder if Judith Herman has the ability to see inside your thoughts after reading Chapter 5. As a survivor of child abuse and trauma, I was amazed by her ability to clearly define my thoughts, reactions and general "take" on life. If you are a survivor of ANY kind of trauma, READ THIS BOOK. My therapist, Dr. Zitlin in San Antonio, asked me to please read this book after one visit with him. Trauma and Recovery proves to me that recovery is actually possible. And in a way that just might work. This is like no other book I've ever read on trauma, child abuse or PTSD. I've read enough self help books to fill three hefty bags and finally I'm reading something that mirrors my own experience. It's compassion filled without losing credibility. Simply amazing. Please take the time to read this.
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116 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A political and very necessary book. October 17, 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is not your usual trauma recovery book. Most books on healing explain symptoms, offer exercises, and provide illuminating case histories. Judith Herman does all this, but she goes beyond just focusing on healing oneself in isolation. We are social animals, and must live within our culture. Thus, how our culture regards trauma and traumatized people is very important to those trying to become reintegrated into society after massive psychic shock. Dr. Herman explains our modern Western culture's attitudes toward trauma and the traumatized, gives a fascinating and pertinent history of how those attitudes have changed throughout the past century, and shows how those attitudes affect how survivors recover.

Dr. Herman sets forth most of this broader cultural history in Part 1, Chapter 1, "A Forgotten History." She begins with the female hysteria patients of 19th Century Europe, and ends up with the Vietnam veterans' movement to demand treatment for battle induced post-traumatic stress. The veterans' work bore fruit. In 1980 the American Psychiatric Association included "post-traumatic stress disorder" in its official manual of mental disorders. This paved the way in the 1980s for victims of rape, childhood abuse, and domestic violence to be treated for post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

Part of the history Herman sets forth explores why people tend to shun and try to silence trauma survivors. She writes, "It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.
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79 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Contribution to Trauma Psychology August 28, 2006
I wrote a glowing review on this book four years ago, but now that I have more formal education in trauma psychology I wanted to provide a more nuanced perspective.

Dr. Judith Herman is one of the most important voices in the field, and she was in fact a member of the committee that defined PTSD as it is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual - IV. Her contribution to the understanding of trauma psychology has been essential to understanding how trauma becomes PTSD and how that is manifested in the sufferer. She brings an incredible depth of compassion to her writing, making this book seem less like a compilation of research material and more like a courageous willingness to be a witness to unspeakable horror.

Dr. Herman specializes in sexual abuse and incest, but the book is meant to draw all sufferers of repeated trauma, from prisoners of war to victims of domestic violence, together under a single umbrella. She identifies what she believes to be a form of Complex-PTSD that is more pervasive and personality-oriented as a result of repeat trauma and captivity. Symptoms of this condition include an unstable sense of self, profound changes in system of meaning (such as loss of faith in God or basic goodness of humanity), sudden and unexpected changes in mood, fears of abandonment, fears of catostrophic world devastation, feelings of inherent badness, etc. In the book, Herman suggests that symptomatic overlap with Borderline Personality Disorder may indicate BPD is, in many cases, actually a form of complex trauma. While I believe there is some evidence to support this argument (such as the fact that the vast majority of those diagnosed with BPD suffer from childhood sexual trauma), her case is hardly universally accepted by the psychiatric community.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and a must-read for therapists
This book is incredibly insightful. It goes so far beyond our society's notion that you can just put something behind you and keep smiling. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Dawn
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best book I have ever read about trauma
This is the best book I have ever read about trauma, hands down. It is considered a classic for good reason. Read more
Published 18 days ago by aldous
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful.
This book was recommended by a physician and I found it very informative and useful for a person experiencing PTSD
Published 1 month ago by Dona DuQuin
5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable and Worthy of Recommendation
I discovered this book at the public library many years ago, when I was learning what it meant to be diagnosed with PTSD. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Carma Chan
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Intro to Treating Trauma
I would recommend this book to anyone who is considering a career in treating those who have been affected by trauma. It is simple, easy to understand, and hard-hitting.
Published 1 month ago by Kathleen L. Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent seminal work on PTSD
Heavily referenced work on psychological foundations of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Pretty much required reading for psychotherapy based approaches to this disorder. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Backcountry Johnny
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
This book, despite a bit of age in these matters, is so well written. It will be eye opening, and yet in that new knowledge there is hope. Read more
Published 2 months ago by R. "Leckey" Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Everything you need to understand and deal with traumatized people. Should have read this book many years ago to save a lot of trouble.
Published 2 months ago by Mr D
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent information in a tiny tiny font...
I had this recommended by one of my professors as well as a social worker that I work with (I volunteer with foster kids). Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amy Henry
4.0 out of 5 stars Well organized and useful
This physician has done extensive work with victims of abuse. She interestingly develops he trauma care theories for both victims of abuse and war veterans. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Karyn Packard
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