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Born Anxious: The Lifelong Impact of Early Life Adversity - and How to Break the Cycle Hardcover – April 11, 2017
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The 30 Best Self Help Books
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“Much more than just an overview of how new DNA research has enlightened our understanding of anxiety, this is an empowering guide to combating the stress epidemic.” ―Kirkus Reviews
"Every once in a while a book comes along that draws us into the often obscure world of science, and takes us on a moving journey of understanding. Born Anxious is one of these special books, lucidly written and easy to grasp. On one level it's the biological story of the underpinnings of stress. But don't be fooled. This is a human story. For the millions of people who have lived under a cloud of stress and anxiety they could neither escape nor control, this book will finally bring peace and understanding. Everyone should read it." ―Susan Cain, author of Quiet
"This book tells the story of the scientific work that will likely lead to a new understanding of why some of us feel as if our entire lives have been compromised by high levels of stress. But what makes it so important is that it also shows, indeed forcefully argues, that we do not need to be ruled by our biology. It won’t be easy, but there are things that we as parents, as individuals, and as a society can do to take control of our psychological lives. This is an empowering book that anyone who has ever dealt with stress―in themselves, their families, friends, even those they work with, should read and consider." ―Jeffrey M. Schwartz MD, Research Psychiatrist, UCLA, author of the bestselling books Brain Lock, The Mind and the Brain, and You Are Not Your Brain
"In this period in human history when many are "stressed out", Keating tells a vitally important story of how inequality gets "under the skin" and affects physical and mental health over the life course, starting very early in life. And he provides very useful references to interventions for children, teens and adults." ―Bruce McEwen, PhD, Alfred E. Mirsky Professor of Neuroscience at Rockefeller University, and recipient of the Gold Medal Award from the Society for Biological Psychiatry. Author of The End of Stress As We Know It and The Hostage Brain
About the Author
DANIEL P. KEATING is a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, and received his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins. Keating has conducted research at leading North American universities; at Berlin's Max Planck Institute; and with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, where he was a fellow for two decades and led the program in human development. He focuses on developmental differences: cognitive, social, emotional, and in physical and mental health. He resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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Top Customer Reviews
While this book does discuss and quote many scientific studies about those matters, it is poorly focused on the science and often gets into social politics. That’s also pretty interesting, and it does fit into the “lifelong impact of early life adversity”, but only in the loosest sense.
So just be aware that this is a book about advocating for progressive social justice, explaining anxiety through that lens, and offers no tangible assistance on how to improve one’s self or your child’s development. That’s OK… there are a lot of self-help books out there and this one doesn’t need to cover the same ground. Just understand what this is.
I found the organization and writing in the book to be great, and the scope of what anxiety is to be pretty interesting. It’s unusual for me to finish a book like this, but I had no trouble reading this over a week or so.
Pretty intense stuff, eek. So at what level of stress does the body permanently alter its ability to turn off that stress response? The short answer is, we don't know. Obviously children born into war zones or born to mothers who have experienced significant trauma during pregnancy are at risk. But (and this is where the book gets a little dicey, in my opinion...) what about in first-world countries, where we've seen a significant rise in stress dysregulation? Well, Keating claims that rising inequality is what is mostly to blame for our growing stress. And not just in people who are poor. He sees this as affecting everyone, regardless of class or income level. Poorer people may worry about simply getting by, but richer people worry about losing their status. This "constant underlying fear that things could go wrong pretty quickly" produces the same increased risk for stress dysregulation in pregnant women and young children across income levels.
Truth be told, I'm not sure I'm 100% on board with Keating's assertion that inequality, both real and anticipated, is completely responsible for our rising stress levels and, specifically, SDR. However, his thoughts and observations about how stress impacts us as babies, children, teenagers, and adults (he has a chapter for each developmental stage) is fascinating. And I absolutely agree with his conclusion that we can combat our current stress epidemic by investing in human development: early education, public education, stress reduction training (especially for kids), universal healthcare, quality prenatal care, paid maternity leave, job security post-maternity leave, paid parental leave, and comprehensive sex education. As Keating has found in his research, "Countries that tell their citizens they will be taken care of when the chips are down have happier citizens."
Ultimately, there is a lot to love in this book. I learned so much, not only about stress and how it so powerfully affects the body, but also about what we can do--what I can do--to help myself and others cope. I don't necessarily agree with all of Keating's arguments, but I still think this is a fascinating book and well worth the read.