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Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to… (1992)

by Judith Lewis Herman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
898917,235 (4.47)7
WhenTrauma 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.… (more)
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» See also 7 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
It is difficult for me to review this book thoroughly because I have not dealt with my own trauma or the trauma of the people around me. I have not read all the literature on the subject and am willing to accept other theories and practises on the subject.

All that said, this is an excellent theoretical introduction to PTSD and trauma therapy. It is very clearly written with examples and carefully repeats important themes. It is not a "how-to" book and is more of a overarching set of principles with which to approach therapy for either the client or the therapist. You do not need to know a lot of psychology jargon to understand, but it is at a bit higher reading level, perhaps a lower undergraduate. I would recommend it for people like myself who suspect trauma has had an impact on their life and for any professionals who interact with vulnerable populations prone to experiencing trauma (librarians, social workers, therapists, nurses, etc). If you are a survivor of trauma and perhaps feel your treatment or progress has stalled, this is also a good book for inspiration on how to continue recovery or what kind of treatment you might want to seek in future. The book also covers borderline personality disorder and dissociative disorders (formerly MPD) as they may develop from traumatic events.

This edition (2015) includes an afterword that brings some recent perspective on where trends in research and society have gone since the original first edition in 1997.

If you have experienced trauma or suffer from PTSD, obviously you should be wary of your own triggers, but there are no particularly graphic scenes of traumatic events. However, simply being forced to face how often and how horrible people can be hurt is difficult and can bring up difficult emotions. Take care of yourself! ( )
  collingsruth | Apr 23, 2020 |
Could have used some editing, ( )
  AnnaHernandez | Oct 17, 2019 |
update on this review: 15 Sept, 12017 HE, about 2 years or so after first read: at the bottom...

So I guess I'm in Stage 3, now !!! :-)




Original review, circa. 2010:5
This book, for me, was a horrible read. Horribly accurate. Yet hopeful as well.

Horrible to see that I am not so different after all -I see myself in every comment she makes on adults who survived long-term trauma as children.
Horrible to see that my experience is not so different.
Yet hopeful to see that there are ways of solving the problem, living 'normally' -just that ignoring it is not one of those ways.
Most irritating.
Especially after burn-out has twice stopped me from working enough to distract myself from my distracting memories.

She mentions [b:The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma|18693771|The Body Keeps the Score Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma|Bessel A. van der Kolk|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1397425897s/18693771.jpg|26542319] in her 2015 epilogue, and that book seems to recommend both movement and writing -both of which helped me until I had to get back to sitting in a chair looking for a job all day long.

I seem to be stuck in Stage 2, and worst of all, I read over and over again that either in writing or in talking therapy, I must now stop "living in my head" and move back into my body. I have always found it easier to forget to eat then to bother about my body. Work has always been a useful form of escape, until now. Ok, not so much -once I get to about the intermediate level of just about anything, it seems no longer to hold my interest, and I find myself assaulted by unwanted memories that refuse to go back into their Blankety-Blank-Blank!!! boxes.
Irritatingly enough, this is the first place I have seen such a thing predicted.
She even has the gall to predict and counter my 'unique' perspective on my right to choose when to die, and how. Apparently this too is normal for folks like me. Huh. So much for being misunderstood. I guess she has us pegged, finally, Thank the non-existent God!! Finally someone actually documents what we go through, and tells us it is a normal response to a hideous start in life. Ok, now, on to how to fix the problem: start with saftey (years of martial arts did help some), get a good therapist, talk, write, and move your body. And remember that faking functionality will not work forever.

Peace,
Shira
27.10.12015 HE

... update, 15.9.12017 HE
I see what a difference a perceptive, attentive and flexible therapist can make: first of all, one does not have to sit and purposely relive the entire series of traumatic events, which in any case is impossible to do on a conscious level for dealing with childhood abuse, as there are just too many events.

Perceptiveness: What my newest therapist told me that made a difference was that there was no need to go back through all of those events, because I was already reliving my traumas every day, each time I am triggered: it remained, however, to follow those triggers back to the originating event(s) and deal with those.

Naturally, I tried to squirm out of it by skipping past whenever possible, and that is where the attentiveness comes in: she always redirects me where other therapists let or even encourage me to avoid sitting with that trigger, and following it back to the source event(s) to figure out what is happening to the child-me, and then

Flexibility: this therapist had to dispense with Affirmations, as I pointed out that they are very counter-productive for me. So instead, she had me develop an 'imagination' I had years ago of myself as several people, one very young (4 yr old), one about 15, another about 17, and another older, maybe 23 or so years old. She added a Parental figure, and told me to look for the frightened 4 year old, and find out where she was, and what she wanted, and then have my own Inner Parent explain to my wounded 4-year old that she/I would take care of it, and keep her/me safe.

After some time, this works. Now, I know that when fireworks/loud noises/shouting happens, it is not just me there and then, but my inner 4-yr old hiding while hearing my mom being beaten, and my adult-me can say 'I got this, you are safe.' and excuse myself to keep from being further triggered.

Finally, after months of work, and then being told that mourning the loss of childhoon, protection by parents, etc, is in fact necessary, I began a long web search (which seems to confirm), and found this website as a nice To Do List to check off (because I like to know when I'm done!):
http://outofthefog.website/toolbox-1/2015/11/17/complex-post-traumatic-stress-di...

Hope this helps others,
Shira ( )
  FourFreedoms | May 17, 2019 |
update on this review: 15 Sept, 12017 HE, about 2 years or so after first read: at the bottom...

So I guess I'm in Stage 3, now !!! :-)




Original review, circa. 2010:5
This book, for me, was a horrible read. Horribly accurate. Yet hopeful as well.

Horrible to see that I am not so different after all -I see myself in every comment she makes on adults who survived long-term trauma as children.
Horrible to see that my experience is not so different.
Yet hopeful to see that there are ways of solving the problem, living 'normally' -just that ignoring it is not one of those ways.
Most irritating.
Especially after burn-out has twice stopped me from working enough to distract myself from my distracting memories.

She mentions [b:The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma|18693771|The Body Keeps the Score Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma|Bessel A. van der Kolk|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1397425897s/18693771.jpg|26542319] in her 2015 epilogue, and that book seems to recommend both movement and writing -both of which helped me until I had to get back to sitting in a chair looking for a job all day long.

I seem to be stuck in Stage 2, and worst of all, I read over and over again that either in writing or in talking therapy, I must now stop "living in my head" and move back into my body. I have always found it easier to forget to eat then to bother about my body. Work has always been a useful form of escape, until now. Ok, not so much -once I get to about the intermediate level of just about anything, it seems no longer to hold my interest, and I find myself assaulted by unwanted memories that refuse to go back into their Blankety-Blank-Blank!!! boxes.
Irritatingly enough, this is the first place I have seen such a thing predicted.
She even has the gall to predict and counter my 'unique' perspective on my right to choose when to die, and how. Apparently this too is normal for folks like me. Huh. So much for being misunderstood. I guess she has us pegged, finally, Thank the non-existent God!! Finally someone actually documents what we go through, and tells us it is a normal response to a hideous start in life. Ok, now, on to how to fix the problem: start with saftey (years of martial arts did help some), get a good therapist, talk, write, and move your body. And remember that faking functionality will not work forever.

Peace,
Shira
27.10.12015 HE

... update, 15.9.12017 HE
I see what a difference a perceptive, attentive and flexible therapist can make: first of all, one does not have to sit and purposely relive the entire series of traumatic events, which in any case is impossible to do on a conscious level for dealing with childhood abuse, as there are just too many events.

Perceptiveness: What my newest therapist told me that made a difference was that there was no need to go back through all of those events, because I was already reliving my traumas every day, each time I am triggered: it remained, however, to follow those triggers back to the originating event(s) and deal with those.

Naturally, I tried to squirm out of it by skipping past whenever possible, and that is where the attentiveness comes in: she always redirects me where other therapists let or even encourage me to avoid sitting with that trigger, and following it back to the source event(s) to figure out what is happening to the child-me, and then

Flexibility: this therapist had to dispense with Affirmations, as I pointed out that they are very counter-productive for me. So instead, she had me develop an 'imagination' I had years ago of myself as several people, one very young (4 yr old), one about 15, another about 17, and another older, maybe 23 or so years old. She added a Parental figure, and told me to look for the frightened 4 year old, and find out where she was, and what she wanted, and then have my own Inner Parent explain to my wounded 4-year old that she/I would take care of it, and keep her/me safe.

After some time, this works. Now, I know that when fireworks/loud noises/shouting happens, it is not just me there and then, but my inner 4-yr old hiding while hearing my mom being beaten, and my adult-me can say 'I got this, you are safe.' and excuse myself to keep from being further triggered.

Finally, after months of work, and then being told that mourning the loss of childhoon, protection by parents, etc, is in fact necessary, I began a long web search (which seems to confirm), and found this website as a nice To Do List to check off (because I like to know when I'm done!):
http://outofthefog.website/toolbox-1/2015/11/17/complex-post-traumatic-stress-di...

Hope this helps others,
Shira ( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
This book saves lives. ( )
  woolgathering | Apr 4, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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WhenTrauma 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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