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Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal Paperback – December 27, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the wake of 9/11, there was much media coverage of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD—the long-term stress response whose symptoms include chronic pain, nightmares and panic attacks—and how to treat it. Naparstek, a therapist for more than 30 years, is an advocate of guided imagery, as opposed to talk therapy, and in this book she uses case histories to illustrate how it works; she also looks at recent research on the brain that shows why this method is effective and offers step-by-step instructions on using guided imagery, which she defines as "deliberate, directed daydreaming," for healing trauma. According to Naparstek, trauma damages the left brain, which is language oriented, and talking about the trauma can actually worsen symptoms. Imagery, on the other hand affects the right brain, the seat of the emotions. Guided imagery is "fast, powerful, costs little or nothing," says the author; it can be done alone or in groups, with the help of tapes that walk the stress victim through the process of finding images that help heal the trauma. Clinicians will find the entire book useful; people seeking help may not need explanations of the biochemical processes underlying PTSD, but will respond to Napartek's passionate advocacy of a simple, gentle healing method.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"The bad news is that stress-related disorders are epidemic in our society.  The good news is the new array of therapies that are truly effective in healing them.   INVISIBLE HEROES is a package of hope for anyone whose life is compromised by the insidious effects of emotional trauma.  This is one of those blessed books that deserves to be called life-changing."--Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Healing Beyond the Body, Reinventing Medicine and Healing Words

"Belleruth Naparstek is both a compassionate therapist and authority on the role of imagery in health. Her new book on PTSD ingeniously combines her therapeutic work with the latest brain research on how to heal from trauma. The end result is a book full of wisdom, compassion, and practical solutions that can help anyone access their inner ability to heal even from worst case scenarios. The world certainly needs this information now more than ever."--Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of The Wisdom of Menopause and Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

"Surgery is controlled trauma. Finally I understand why we cannot just "talk" patients back to full recovery. Here is a blue print for using the right brain to deliver health."--Mehmet Oz, M.D., author of Healing from The Heart

"Belleruth Naparstek is a treasure, deeply engaged, boundlessly energetic, visionary. Her new work on trauma is as wise as it is practical. We are all in her debt."--James S. Gordon, MD, Founder and Director, Center for Mind-Body Medicine, author of Manifesto for a New Medicine

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (December 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553383744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553383744
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Reading "Invisible Heroes" has absolutely changed my life. I am a survivor of childhood incest and physical abuse and this book understands me, my symptoms, and my life post-trauma. This is the first time I have felt really understood. That within itself was enough. Yet, this book can explain my symptoms and what is going on in my brain when things like when flashbacks are happening. It is wonderful to have clinical research to back up my experiences and to explain things to my academic/intellectual friends in a way they will take more seriously. And, to top all this off . . . this book brought hope to my life. Not only do I feel understood, and validated through the reading of this book, but I truly feel there is hope for healing. This is a new thing for me. No one in my almost 20 years of therapy (of all sorts) has suggested I could do more than manage the PTSD symptoms. In this book not only did I find hope for healing, but Belleruth gives "how-to's" for healing. I am so excited about the PTSD pack of guided imagery CD's. I couldn't afford them all, so I began with "Healthful sleep". Sleep is a particular problem for me and it seems to me that if I can get good sleep that would go a long way on the path to healing. I've used the CD for a week now and I'm sleeping really well. I've been able to decrease my dose of Ambien already and am optimistic about getting off this med altogether. More than anything else, thank you for your work, for your understanding of the PTSD phenomenon and for the hope you offer trauma survivors.
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Format: Hardcover
By the time I was about 5 chapters into Invisible Heroes, I had begun to strongly recommend it to friends, students and clients.

I'm certain that, where both physical and emotional healing are concerned, this is one of the most important and valuable books written in the last 20 years. And I'm confident that value holds whether the reader is a trauma survivor, a psychotherapist, a medical practitioner or an interested member of the general public.

Belleruth Naparstek writes with compassion about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Equally important, she explains SIMPLY and EASILY what the latest medical diagnostics reveal about how our bodies' own biochemical and psychophysical responses can lock in PTSD in ways that just talk therapy or just drug intervention can't sufficiently overcome.

Most importantly, Naparstek offers very specific information about how, and why, guided imagery can be a functional, healing intervention to support the hard work of OVERCOMING PTSD. And she provides a series of guided imagery scripts, developed through extensive work with private clients, 9/11 survivors and VA Hospital trauma groups, among others. The scripts can be used on their own, or in concert with counseling and medical intervention.

This book is GOLD! It provides a functional path through hell into healing. If I could afford to, I'd send copies to the 100 people I care about most. And to every VA Hospital, domestic violence center, homeless shelter and free clinic in America. And I'd be grateful to be able to do it.
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Format: Hardcover
This book summarizes succinctly for me the best of the new therapies and puts the older therapies into contemporary context, in an easy to read, sensitive manner, including rivetting personal accounts of overcoming huge odds. It oriented me in the NEW (what a relief) psychiatry/psychology which is not all talk or all drugs. Some of these methods operate quickly. Hope! Are inexpensive, for those of us with poor, at best, insurance. Hope! Informed me about drugs and doctors for good decision making. Empower! Whether you are pro or anti psychiatry, you will immediately have methods at your disposal that will help you understand how you and others may work, on your own or with help, through extreme difficulties or trauma and regain optimism! I have used Belleruth Naparstek's guided imagery tapes since 1994 but it was this book which put the process into perspective so I could understand and further heal. Without intending to be, this book is also an easy introduction into the most promising new brain research - Robert Ornstein etc., which explains how we think/feel via our physiology. This is not difficult to understand science this is applied science and applied to you. In these challenging times,personal and global, this understanding is essential.
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Format: Paperback
I agree with other reviewers that this book is well written. It conveys a lot of information in a readable and accessible style and I'm glad it's part of my library when I need validation for symptoms or hope for healing.
But I also agree that there is way too much triggering material, which I think should be reduced in a future edition or placed at the end of the book. There are so many accounts of horrible experiences interwoven into the text that it's hard to avoid them. So I recommend the book for the information and support but would warn trauma survivors to approach it with caution. If you're really in immediate crisis, you might want to avoid it completely.
Like others, I also have reservations about the imagery exercises. My partner and I got a bit swept up in hopefulness about their efficacy and splurged on several of the CDs. But, as is actually clear from the versions in the book, they overlap a lot, so I'd advise anyone who wants to try them to just buy one or two. I'd also suggest first really checking out from the book whether you actually like Naparstek's imagery. My partner found it somewhat helpful for a while. For me, it really didn't land, and I think some of the problems I had might be shared by other survivors. For example, attempts to relax can be triggering; it might simply be impossible to really imagine and absorb sensations of a "safe place"; we might not have memories of loving presences to call on, or they might be too complex to be soothing, or just trigger grief at their loss. I suppose Naparstek is using a formula that has helped a good number of people, and "one size fits all" is bound to leave some folks out. ( On the other hand, I also found the number of "safe place" options in each exercise very distracting.
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