In this classic work of developmental psychology, renowned psychiatrist and the co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller What Happened to You? reveals how trauma affects children—and outlines the path to recovery.
"Fascinating and upbeat.... Dr. Perry is both a world-class creative scientist and a compassionate therapist." –Mary Pipher, PhD, author of Reviving Ophelia
How does trauma affect a child's mind—and how can that mind recover?
Child psychiatrist Dr. Bruce D. Perry has helped children faced with unimaginable horror: genocide survivors, murder witnesses, kidnapped teenagers, and victims of family violence. In the classic The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, Dr. Perry tells their stories of trauma and transformation and shares their lessons of courage, humanity, and hope. Deftly combining unforgettable case histories with his own compassionate, insightful strategies for rehabilitation, Perry explains what happens to children’s brain when they are exposed to extreme stress—and reveals the unexpected measures that can be taken to ease such pain and help them grow into healthy adults. Only when we understand the science of the mind and the power of love and nurturing can we hope to heal the spirit of even the most wounded child.
In beautifully written, fascinating accounts of experiences working with emotionally stunted and traumatized children, child psychiatrist Perry educates readers about how early-life stress and violence affects the developing brain. He offers simple yet vivid illustrations of the stress response and the brain's mechanisms with facts and images that crystallize in the mind without being too detailed or confusing. The stories exhibit compassion, understanding and hope as Perry paints detailed, humane pictures of patients who have experienced violence, sexual abuse or neglect, and Perry invites the reader on his own journey to understanding how the developing child's brain works. He learns that to facilitate recovery, the loss of control and powerlessness felt by a child during a traumatic experience must be counteracted. Recovery requires that the patient be "in charge of key aspects of the therapeutic interaction." He emphasizes that the brain of a traumatized child can be remolded with patterned, repetitive experiences in a safe environment. Most importantly, as such trauma involves the shattering of human connections, "lasting, caring connections to others" are irreplaceable in healing; medications and therapy alone cannot do the job. "Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love," Perry concludes.