BOOK REVIEW: TRAUMA & RECOVERY by Judith Herman, MD

Good for

  • Getting a broad overview of how all types of trauma affect people

  • Understanding the social and political factors that influence how survivors are treated

  • Learning about the specific effects of long-term trauma on the development of Complex PTSD

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror is the seminal book on the subject. When it was first published in 1992, it was hailed as a groundbreaking work. The genius of this book is that it manages to show how all trauma, whether it be from traditionally male spheres like war or female spheres like domestic abuse, leads to similar symptoms. This is because all psychological trauma stems from the same place: terror

Herman discusses the typical physiological and psychological responses to terror, paying special attention to the difference between single events (like a mugging) versus long-term events (like becoming a prisoner of war). She introduces the concept of Complex PTSD to explain the more deep-seated and problematic symptoms seen in survivors of captivity.

Herman also attempts to put the study of psychological trauma in historical, social, and political context. She explains that, on both a personal and societal level, there is a natural desire to deny traumatic events while at the same time pronouncing them. This constant push-pull between the desire to know and not know about horrible events leads both individual survivors and society-at-large to act with a kind of doublethink.

Trauma and Recovery is a powerful and intelligent book that changes the way one thinks about trauma. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand their own traumatization or how and why the world often responds to survivors with contempt.

If you would like more information on this book or want to purchase it, please click here.

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