November 8, 2022

Healing from Trauma: Five Book Recommendations

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One of the best ways we can help ourselves and heal from our pain is to educate ourselves. Self-help books empower us and provide reassurance, comfort, and hope.

  • The greatest self-help books should provide:
  • Clinical research
  • Insight
  • Intimate stories we can relate to, and
  • Techniques and methods to help us along our journeys toward recovery.

If you’ve been a trauma, know you’re not alone. Below are my top five book recommendations for individuals on the path toward healing:

The Body Keeps The Score

“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.”

I really consider this an essential reading for anyone who has experienced trauma. This book is supported by decades of scientific research about the effects of trauma on our minds and bodies, provides a solid understanding of what trauma is, and what methods are used to treat trauma both within and outside of psychotherapy. You’ll learn about the neurological and hormonal changes that occur in the aftermath of trauma, as well as what steps you can take to begin healing.

It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle

“Perhaps your mother carried a wound from her mother and was unable to give you what she didn’t get. Her parenting skills would be limited by what she did not receive from her parents.”

This book offers groundbreaking insight into the ways that families pass along trauma from one generation to the next. Children often grow up with fear that belongs to someone else, be that a parent or caregiver, and suffer from depression, self-doubt, and anxiety. You’ll learn about how inherited trauma has shaped your life, and you’ll gain powerful tools to reclaim your life and break the cycle. This book is ideal for anyone who has begun the journey toward healing and firmly recognizes that some of their trauma may not be their own.

Trauma and Recovery

“Recovery can take place only within then context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation.”

Informed by clinical experience and vivid accounts of survivors, this book takes its readers through the emotional aftermath of various traumas, ranging from childhood abuse to political terror. Trauma and Recovery has long since been considered a seminal text on the subject, influencing decades of later research. This book focuses on the psychological impact of trauma, and walks its readers through the three crucial stages of healing.

What Happened To You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

“We elicit from the world what we project into the world; but what you project is based upon what happened to you as a child.”

This thought-provoking book is formatted as a conversation between Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Perry, MD, PhD, a decades-long clinician, researcher, and teacher of mental health and neuroscience. The authors’ aim is to eradicate the shame associated with trauma by shifting our thoughts from “what’s wrong with me?” to “what happened to me?” The impact of trauma on brain biology, the body, and emotions is thoroughly explored, and readers will learn about adaptive approaches to psychological pain. This book provides an in-depth understanding of how trauma shapes our lives, and demonstrates how healing is possible.

The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, & Healing in a Toxic Culture

“I think normalcy is a myth. The idea that some people have pathology and the rest of us are normal is crude. There’s nothing about any mentally ill person—and it doesn’t matter what their diagnosis is—that I couldn’t recognize in myself. The reality is that, in every case, mental illness is an outcome of traumatic events.”

Author, clinician, and researcher Gabor Maté takes a deep-dive into human development, society, and capitalism to help us understand how the toxicity of Western culture, with its obsession with health and wellness, ironically perpetuates illness. He revisits the idea of “normal” as a false construct because it fails to take into consideration the pervasive effects of stress, trauma, and the pressures of modern-day living in a digital age. This book breaks down dozens of concepts within Western culture that either ignore, perpetuate, or exacerbate trauma. Lastly and importantly, he offers an accessible framework with which to holistically approach health, healing, and wellbeing.