Published by Basic Books on 2006
Challenge Theme: A book about mental health
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What happens when a young brain is traumatized? How does terror, abuse, or disaster affect a child’s mind–and how can that mind recover? Child psychiatrist Bruce Perry has helped children faced with unimaginable horror: genocide survivors, murder witnesses, kidnapped teenagers, and victims of family violence. In The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, he tells their stories of trauma and transformation through the lens of science, revealing the brain’s astonishing capacity for healing. Deftly combining unforgettable case histories with his own compassionate, insightful strategies for rehabilitation, Perry explains what exactly happens to the brain when a child is exposed to extreme stress-and reveals the unexpected measures that can be taken to ease a child’s pain and help him grow into a healthy adult. Through the stories of children who recover-physically, mentally, and emotionally-from the most devastating circumstances, Perry shows how simple things like surroundings, affection, language, and touch can deeply impact the developing brain, for better or for worse. In this deeply informed and moving book, Bruce Perry dramatically demonstrates that only when we understand the science of the mind can we hope to heal the spirit of even the most wounded child.
Having just read a psychology book that was very disappointing I was so glad that this book kept my interest all throughout. The material in this book is hard to read, any kind of hurt that a child goes through is awful, but it is also interesting to read about how Perry took these children and was able to help them. The book is very educational without sounding too clinical. The best way to describe it is that is is equally fascinating and horrifying to read. I would definitely be interested to read more books by Perry.
“For years mental health professionals taught people that they could be psychologically healthy without social support, that “unless you love yourself, no one else will love you.”…The truth is, you cannot love yourself unless you have been loved and are loved. The capacity to love cannot be built in isolation”
“The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love.”
“Fire can warm or consume, water can quench or drown, wind can caress or cut. And so it is with human relationships: we can both create and destroy, nurture and terrorize, traumatize and heal each other.”
“To develop a self one must exercise choice and learn from the consequences of those choices; if the only thing you are taught is to comply, you have little way of knowing what you like and want.”
“We also need to recognize that not all stress is bad, that children require challenges and risk as well as safety. It is natural to want to protect our children, but we need to ask ourselves when the desire for risk-free childhoods has gone too far. The safest playground, after all, would have no swings, no steep slides, no rough surfaces, no trees, no other children—and no fun. Children’s brains are shaped by what they do slowly and repeatedly over time. If they don’t have the chance to practice coping with small risks and dealing with the consequences of those choices, they won’t be well prepared for making larger and far more consequential decisions.”