- Paperback: 250 pages
- Publisher: The Haworth Medical Press; 1 edition (April 15, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0789012464
- ISBN-13: 978-0789012463
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 41 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease 1st Edition
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Dr. Scaer is a physician but not a psychiatrist, which gives him the distinct advantage of being able to review the relevant mental health literature from the standpoint of another specialty. A neurologist with an obvious command of neuroanatomy and physiology and all of the abnormalities that developmental and accidental trauma produce, he can write compellingly to make the case, which I believe most physicians do not appreciate, that trauma is not universally perceived. The response to trauma depends upon its meaning to the victim and his or her sense of helplessness in a perceived life-threatening situation. It's like the lion chasing the antelope--the same physiological reactions are occurring--the pupils are dilated, the muscles are pumping, the adrenaline and cortisol are high--but the meaning to the lion is lunch and to the antelope it is survival.
Dr. Scaer has drawn the same link to whiplash and other disease of traumatic stress, and leads the reader through the relevant physiology, trauma and attunement theory, and the way traumatic reactions manifest themselves in a variety of common diseases. As a hand surgeon for many years, I saw the effects of trauma--dissociation, re-experiencing, and avoidance--displayed in many injured, depressed, and angry patients suffering from what is now called "complex regional pain syndrome" and struggled to treat it. All hand surgeons knew that these patients were "difficult", but even now more of them should read Dr. Scaer's work. "Tormented" would be a more accurate term.
The third edition is significantly improved and elaborated over the second, which itself was exceptional. I have read every word of both. There are new chapters on bonding and attunement. The whole text is more "dense", literature references updated and exhaustive. Yet somehow it is still smooth reading for a relative novice to the field. That is the author's skill.
Dr. Scaer seems aware that not all allopathic physicians will subscribe to his ideas, but in my opinion they should. These patients have lifelong afflictions that they did not cause, and until some compassionate physician recognizes it, too many will be discounted as "crazy." They deserve better, and it is pioneers like Dr. Scaer who will educate all of us.
EDIT October 2012: I have just read the authors other book The Trauma Spectrum: Hidden Wounds and Human Resiliency and I saw that he does there get into the 'little traumas' of parenting and social interaction. Because the second edition of this book bears a later copyright than Trauma Spectrum I had assumed there would be nothing in Spectrum that was not here also. I was wrong, read both books.
I started reading this book after my Mother died. I wanted to understand why this extraordinary woman stayed with a man who was so emotionally neglectful and abusive. She died a shadow of who she was - why, what happened? Understanding how long term stress affects the physiology of the brain has been huge for me in reconnecting with her, forgiving her, and appreciating who she was, her strengths. I am deeply grateful for this book.
It also helps me understand the men and women I meet who seem to be giving away their power. I find I am more compassionate. I am curious, too, what these insights may mean for the neurologically oversensitive (Asperger's, autism, etc.).