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Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror Paperback – July 7, 2015
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Advance Praise for Adventures in Human Being
From shell shock in World War I to childhood sexual abuse today, the reality of trauma has been denied. But as this indispensable book makes clear, Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.'”
Gloria Steinem, New York Times' T Magazine
About the Author
Top customer reviews
Judith Herman writes this book with such love, and nurturing and caring. I read it very slowly, with a highlighter. I could only read it a bit at a time, to give myself time to process. The book helped me understand things that had been mysteries to me my entire life! I hadn't made the PTSD connection before. Life has a way of illuminating things. At first, I wanted to track Dr. Herman down and see her for a few sessions. Too bad I don't have that kind of money :-) I found a PTSD group via MeetUps, and started working with the therapist who runs it and offers a sliding scale. I'm an integrated and joyful person these days.
Her work also reflects a growing body of experience with traumatized combat veterans and victims of political terror.
Herman asserts that traumatic syndromes have basic features in common, and that the recovery process also follows a common pathway. The fundamental stages of recovery are:
1). Establishing safety.
2). Reconstructing the trauma story.
3). Restoring the connection between survivors and their community.
On p. 244, Herman points out that the subordination of women and children has been so deeply embedded in our culture, that the use of force against them, has only recently been recognized as a violation of basic human rights.
Plus battering, stalking, sexual harassment, and acquaintance rape were not even named, or understood to be crimes until they were defined by the feminist movement.
In this compelling work, Herman illuminates the worlds of war veterans, prisoners of war, battered women, rape and incest victims. On the aspect of recovery from traumatic events, Herman states that recovery unfolds in three stages:
First Stage-Establishment of Safety.
Second Stage-Remembrance and Mourning.
Third Stage-Reconnection with Ordinary Life.
She also notes that these stages are an abstract concept, not to be taken literally, for they are an attempt to impose simplicity and order on a process that is turbulent and complex. For there is no "magic bullet" for recovery from the traumatic syndromes.
It's hard to sum up the stunning breadth of Herman's work. Suffice it to say, that this book is a powerful tool for understanding the effect of trauma on human beings, and it can be immensely helpful in the healing process for all victims of trauma.
This should be recommended reading for our policymakers. It's a must read for returning war veterans and their families, to help them in their readjustment process.
The book also has an extensive, helpful index. I would give Herman's book 10 stars if I could. Very, very highly recommended!
But it is not a self-help book, or only so in a limited sense. If you are a survivor of trauma and are experiencing PTSD, this book is a good place to start, in order to understand that your symptoms make sense and are shared by other survivors of abuse. In other words, you are not alone. It may help you to demand the safety and control of your environment that are necessary for healing. Sometimes other well-meaning people are naive about the safety requirements of traumatized people, and this book can help them understand what you need.
In order to start healing your body-mind, though, the book to go to is Trauma Releasing Exercises by David Berceli. He also has an excellent website. He has devised a series of exercises to help the many millions in our violent world who are suffering from trauma. So many of these people have no access to therapists, because the circumstances that made them vulnerable to abuse also make them poor and without access to health care. These exercises are easy to understand and to perform, and they do help the body release the chronic tension that drives so many of the debilitating psychological symptoms of trauma.