Summary of Trauma and Recovery

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Trauma and Recovery book summary


8 Overall

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Traumatic experiences can permanently scar or change you. In this groundbreaking work, Judith Herman meticulously explores the impact of trauma on the human psyche, whether the trauma originates from a natural disaster, political terror, captivity or combat. Writing from a feminist political perspective, Herman also investigates traumas that result from domestic abuse, incest and rape, areas largely unexplored before the 1970s. She describes the symptoms of those who have experienced trauma, explains why they occur, puts forth a program for healing and sets it within a social matrix. This often-quoted book on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) changed the way those in the psychiatric fields diagnosed trauma. It also created a new model for treatment. As such, it is required reading for advanced psychology students, therapists, social workers and counselors, particularly those dealing with patients suffering from PTSD. While it is not for the casual reader, getAbstract recommends Herman’s complex, carefully constructed analysis to people who have PTSD or know someone who does.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How traumatic events such as rape or repeated brutal experiences (for example the horrors of combat) affect people;
  • What the three stages of recovery are; and
  • How practitioners can help victims heal.

About the Author

Judith Lewis Herman, M.D., is a professor of clinical psychiatry at Harvard University Medical School and director of training at the Victims of Violence Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is also the author of Father-Daughter Incest (1981).



The Study of Trauma – A Brief History
The political environment may either support or impede the study of psychological trauma. The first serious studies of so-called “hysteria,” led by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, took place in the late 19th century. Charcot recorded the symptoms...

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