WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce D. Perry & Maia Szalavitz

This book was published in 2006, but I revisited it while preparing our new Trauma Informed Practice course. The book is quite a challenging read as it includes detailed case studies of traumatized children; however it is essential in understanding the impact of trauma experienced in early childhood. The book demonstrates that children are not naturally ‘resilient’ and in fact that trauma in early childhood can have a permanent impact on the brain that affect the individual long into adulthood. This book pre-dated the changes to the DSM-5 that included a sub-type of paediatric PTSD in 2017, but clearly laid a foundation for this development.

Readers will learn how trauma and memory are inherently linked, and also how violence and threat can impact on our capacity to love and work. As Bruce Perry says in the introduction, we can better understand ourselves and to nurture the people in our lives, especially the children.

While this book is quite distressing and at times shocking, it does leave you with some hope for healing. As the authors point out, “Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love.”

If you work with children, or adults who may have suffered trauma while children, this book is essential reading for understanding the impact of trauma experienced in early childhood.

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