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Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal

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A groundbreaking book showing the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and adult illnesses such as heart disease, autoimmune disease, and cancer. Childhood Interrupted also explains how to cope with these emotional traumas and even heal from them. Your biography becomes your biology. The emotional trauma we suffer as children not only shapes our emotional lives A groundbreaking book showing the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and adult illnesses such as heart disease, autoimmune disease, and cancer. Childhood Interrupted also explains how to cope with these emotional traumas and even heal from them. Your biography becomes your biology. The emotional trauma we suffer as children not only shapes our emotional lives as adults, it also affects our physical health, longevity, and overall well-being. Scientists now know on a bio-chemical level exactly how parents, chronic fights, divorce, death in the family, being bullied or hazed, and growing up with a hypercritical, alcoholic, or mentally ill parent can leave permanent, physical fingerprints on our brains. When we as children encounter sudden or chronic adversity, excessive stress hormones cause powerful changes in the body, altering our body chemistry. The developing immune system and brain react to this chemical barrage by permanently re-setting our stress response to high, which in turn can have a devastating impact on our mental and physical health. Donna Jackson Nakazawa shares stories from people who have recognized and overcome their adverse experiences, shows why some children are more immune to stress than others, and explains why women are at particular risk. Groundbreaking in its research, inspiring in its clarity, Childhood Interrupted explains how you can reset your biology and help your loved ones find ways to heal.


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A groundbreaking book showing the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and adult illnesses such as heart disease, autoimmune disease, and cancer. Childhood Interrupted also explains how to cope with these emotional traumas and even heal from them. Your biography becomes your biology. The emotional trauma we suffer as children not only shapes our emotional lives A groundbreaking book showing the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and adult illnesses such as heart disease, autoimmune disease, and cancer. Childhood Interrupted also explains how to cope with these emotional traumas and even heal from them. Your biography becomes your biology. The emotional trauma we suffer as children not only shapes our emotional lives as adults, it also affects our physical health, longevity, and overall well-being. Scientists now know on a bio-chemical level exactly how parents, chronic fights, divorce, death in the family, being bullied or hazed, and growing up with a hypercritical, alcoholic, or mentally ill parent can leave permanent, physical fingerprints on our brains. When we as children encounter sudden or chronic adversity, excessive stress hormones cause powerful changes in the body, altering our body chemistry. The developing immune system and brain react to this chemical barrage by permanently re-setting our stress response to high, which in turn can have a devastating impact on our mental and physical health. Donna Jackson Nakazawa shares stories from people who have recognized and overcome their adverse experiences, shows why some children are more immune to stress than others, and explains why women are at particular risk. Groundbreaking in its research, inspiring in its clarity, Childhood Interrupted explains how you can reset your biology and help your loved ones find ways to heal.

30 review for Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrea McDowell

    I saw this book on Saturday when returning another to the library. I hemmed and hawed. Many of you know what I mean. Do I need another book on childhood trauma? Shouldn't I be over it already? Is this one going to have something to say that I haven't seen before? Can I stand to have people know that this happened to me, will they blame me for still feeling it? Do I want to log it on goodreads? Maybe I should keep it to myself. I borrowed it (clearly) and read it on Sunday. I know, from experience, I saw this book on Saturday when returning another to the library. I hemmed and hawed. Many of you know what I mean. Do I need another book on childhood trauma? Shouldn't I be over it already? Is this one going to have something to say that I haven't seen before? Can I stand to have people know that this happened to me, will they blame me for still feeling it? Do I want to log it on goodreads? Maybe I should keep it to myself. I borrowed it (clearly) and read it on Sunday. I know, from experience, what reading books like this is like for me. The longer I dragged it out the longer the reaction would take. So I crammed the whole thing into a couple of hours, skipping the stuff I already knew, and surfing the inevitable flashbacks. You aren't there. You're here. It isn't happening anymore. Breathe, breathe, breathe. ~~~~~ Let's talk about the book: Part I is about the science of how Adverse Childhood Events (ACE) affect the mind and also the body, based on research about epigenetics, and the very clear and overwhelming statistics linking childhood trauma to seemingly unrelated adult health outcomes, such as cancer, stroke, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, and so on. It's no mystery anymore to say that a childhood of deprivation or abuse can lead to depression, anxiety, addiction or rage; but the evidence of how it leads to disease and early death, too (as the book says, a person who experienced six out of the ten adverse events listed on the ACE inventory will on average lose 20 years of their lifespan), has gained much less traction. Part II is about different evidence-based ways that people can reduce the damage that has been caused. Practices that can retrain the brain in ways to react to stress, decrease the body's negative reactions to chronic stress hormones. It is much more pat, much less satisfying, and uses far less evidence. But one thing at a time: Part I, a brief summary: 1. Two thirds of people who take the ACE have a score of at least one. Forty per cent score two or more. 12.5% score 4 or higher. (I scored 4 or 5, as did approximately--if the statistics are to be believed--1/10 of you.) 2. The higher a person's ACE score, the more doctor's appointments they have had in the past year. 3. People with an ACE score of 4 or higher are twice as likely to develop cancer. 4. For each additional point an individual has, their chance of being hospitalized with an autoimmune disorder increases by 20% in any given year. 5. Those with ACE scores of 7 or higher who did not smoke or drink, were not overweight, not diabetic, and did not have high cholesterol, still had a 360% increased risk of heart disease compared to someone with an ACE score of 0. 6. The important thing, it turns out, is not the severity of the events per se, but their unpredictability. A moderate but unpredictable adverse event has worse health consequences than a horrible but predictable one. When you don't know when the stressor will return, your body stays on alert all the time. The stress hormones don't ever go awyay. You live your life in a state of hypervigilance from which there is no reprieve. 7. Adverse events alter the expression of genes. Worse, these alterations, through the epigene, can become heritable. 8. Kids raised in orphanages have smaller brains than other children. Early adverse circumstances permanently alter the development, size and function of the brain. 9. Besides chronicness and unpredictability, the other important factor is whether or not children are keeping it a secret. If they can't talk about it, they will suffer more. 10. There are genetic differences, too, in sensitivity levels. ~~~~~ Reading these sections of the books was ... how to put it. Imagine watching a horror movie. Or The Walking Dead. You know that feeling of "is there going to be a zombie behind this door?" or "when is the next attack coming?" or "don't go in the basement!" Your heart is pounding. Your shoulders are tense. Your forehead is furrowed. You feel the tension in your jaw, the back of your skull. Your mouth is dry. Your hands are cold. You have a knot in your stomach. It felt like that. For me, anyway. It felt like that for about ten hours. When I was reading, when I put the book down, when my daughter and I went to Chapters, when I browsed shelves of sci-fi and philosophy and art books. Heart pounding, dry mouth, cold hands, hard shoulders. This would have been worth it, if Part II had offered something meaningful. ~~~~~ There were things I learned in the research section that were genuinely new and helpful. Things like: 1. Chronic stress and trauma in childhood will disrupt a person's ability to figure out if a situation is potentially dangerous or a person is potentially unsafe. 2. Chronic stress and trauma in childhood interferes with a person's ability to feel and name their feelings. The end result is that they go from underreactivity to overreactivity, often at a moment's notice; from not feeling anything when they should be, to feeling way too much, on a dime. Well that explains a lot. The recovery section, however, was unsatisfying. It lists a number of well-known and popular, one might even say "trendy," methods: 1. Journaling 2. Art journaling (but only about the traumatic events) 3. Meditation 4. Tai Chi 5. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal TransformationMindsight (Yes, I've read it.) 6. Loving-kindness meditation 7. Forgiveness, someday 8. Yoga and massage 9. Nutrition. (Nutrition! Really! Eat clean to reduce your PTSD!) 10. Relationships 11. Somatic experiencing--I couldn't get through this part 12. Guided imagery 13. Neurofeedback 14. EMDR Is there anything on this list you haven't seen already on a FaceBook meme? Possibly if you're not on FaceBook. Otherwise, you know everything that's in this section already. And if you're dealing with these issues, chances are good that you have tried most or all of these already, and they haven't worked, and that's why you read the damned book. The book blurb and a good bit of the book's text talk about "getting back to who you would have been." That's a high promise, and her methods won't meet it. She provides no statistics or evidence on the effectiveness of these methods. Is a complete recovery likely? For how many people? How many won't respond at all? How many will respond partially? How many methods are likely required to have a significant impact on the quality of a person's life? She doesn't say. So let me say: studies on meditation often include no mention of side effects or negative impacts, but these are known to occur for some people--thought more likely to be those suffering from PTSD, who may have flashbacks while meditating. I looked up a couple of studies on PTSD and meditation, just for curiosity's sake. In one study, 12% of study participants improved in the control group, and 24% improved in the meditation group. To be sure the meditation significantly increased the beneficial impact, but it still left 76% of study participants with no benefit at all. Seventy-six per cent! How does this add up to a guarantee of "getting back to who you would have been"? No mention was made of whether any of those 76% might have been worse off than when they started. And meditation is one of the best studied of the methods she proposes. Why only yoga--why not running? Are there no other physical activities that could provide similar benefits? Where's the evidence? Why does drawing only count if the drawing is related to the trauma? What about painting, photography, sewing, quilting, knitting, woodworking? What about religious practices from other traditions besides Buddhism? Etc. Too many questions, too few answers, and the answers provided with far too little evidence. ~~~~~ Here is a tree. This tree has experienced trauma in its life. You can tell, by the burl on the trunk. A burl is how a tree responds to certain physical stressors. You can read about the biology if you've a mind to--for now, just imagine what would happen if you tried to return the tree to "what it would have been" without the stress, and removed the burl. YOU'D KILL THE TREE. Similarly, for those of us who have had less than loving parents, there is no former us to get back to. There is no me before my mother. She's always been there. A tree can still be beautiful and impressive with a good number of burls, of course. What's a little deformity between friends. Right? Meanwhile, I've tried nine of the 14 things on the list above, plus therapy. They've all helped, but I am not who I would have been, I never will be, and I haven't "recovered" if by that you mean that I no longer have the extreme stress responses. I still lost a day to what are essentially flashbacks, from reading this book. Last week, I lost three days when an interpersonal conflict echoed what I'd had with my parents; for three days, my hands shook, my heart beat faster. Three days. I couldn't sleep. It doesn't go away. And whoever decided that all feelings dissipate in 90 seconds (a fact that was repeated in this book, but I've read it elsewhere too) has clearly never had a flashback. They don't last for 90 seconds. They can eat up a whole year. Isn't that the whole point of the first section of the book?--that you can exist in a permanent state of anxiety and hypervigilance that can last pretty well forever? ~~~~~ There's a more significant criticism of Part II: Human development is a funny thing. It only takes place in the context of some kind of relationship that involves some amount of nurturing. Children who receive no care at all, who are never held, never changed, never talked to, do not learn to talk, or walk, or feed themselves, or us the toilet, or even physically grow as they should, even if they are fed. Thus all childhood abuse that results in an adult who is capable of walking, speaking, self-feeding, and bladder control, didn't consist solely of abuse--there must have been moments, days, weeks, months, of an adult responding to the needs of the child. That is to say, if the bar for "real abuse" is set at total and unrelenting abuse and neglect, the bar is set so low as to prevent survival, really. Abuse and neglect cannot be understood as the total absence of any care ever. That's often how it's presented, though, in families like these. How can you be angry about x? How can you be upset about y? Don't you remember that nice thing I did for you once? But the nice thing doesn't cancel out the x, or the y. It's a favourite tactic of adult abusers too, isn't it? OK yes, I punched you in the face last week, and one time I broke your arm, but then I brought you flowers and you know I always take you to that restaurant you like. It makes it worse for the survivor, those nice things. To bring back the Walking Dead, imagine the gang walking around in Alexandria, the zombies circling the walls, and then the zombies start throwing flowers over the gates. There's no apologies. There's no indication that they remember slaughtering and eating the survivors' loved ones. But there are these occasional gifts, these nice things, the flowers thrown over the wall; and then, later on, the demands that the gates be opened. OK yes, I killed your wife, I ate her, I ate your brother too, but then I gave you flowers. Open the gates! How can you still hold a grudge, after all this time? The nice things end up standing out in one's memory in an aura of fear, rather than enjoyment. It becomes a mystery that begs an answer, where no answer is. When a functional and healthy person does something hurtful or wrong, they apologize. The lack of an apology, particularly coupled with a demand for resumption of the relationship and NO process for amends, means that the person is not safe to be around. "Nice things" notwithstanding. This is something a child who grows up in an abusive home learns on their own, very slowly, if at all; and it is something that is not discussed in this book. The most basic, fundamental action of healing--removing the source of hurt from one's life and keeping it as far distant as possible--is not even mentioned. Indeed, in the author's rush to assure readers that she is not one of those authors who blames parents, she goes a fair bit in the other direction, all but assuring readers that once healing is done, once you have miraculously recovered the person you would have been, you can be around your parent and the things they do will no longer hurt. Imagine giving this advice to an abused spouse. Leave, for a while. Get counselling, meditate, do yoga. Feel better. Then go back to him. From now on, when he punches you in the face, you won't mind. If you do, it's your fault, you're "blaming him." This is a dangerously irresponsible idea. ~~~~~ I can recommend Part I wholeheartedly to anyone interested in this subject. If you are reading "for a friend," just be aware that the preponderance of bad news and tragic anecdotes may make a difficult read. I found it triggering as hell. I cannot recommend Part II to anyone, really. If you have never ever heard of meditation used therapeutically and are totally unaware of the health claims for yoga, and you can be satisfied with a couple of paragraphs of anecdotal data, then by all means. Otherwise, no.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Blackledge

    If your childhood was fucked up. And now you are. Here's why and how not to be.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    She might be a mad genius, bringing in the lay reader with high levels of sensationalism only to help the reader understand the complex nature of how environmental factors modify the necessary neurochemicals, hormones, and gene expression for optimal health throughout the lifespan. However, it seems grossly irresponsible to completely neglect the difference between correlation and causation. This author is filling the reader's head with a bunch of nonsense that isn't even close to being consider She might be a mad genius, bringing in the lay reader with high levels of sensationalism only to help the reader understand the complex nature of how environmental factors modify the necessary neurochemicals, hormones, and gene expression for optimal health throughout the lifespan. However, it seems grossly irresponsible to completely neglect the difference between correlation and causation. This author is filling the reader's head with a bunch of nonsense that isn't even close to being considered solid science. Some of her arguments are truly terrible. She does include some of the best science/studies related to her subject. There is no question about that. It is just the way she puts it together that really leaves the educated reader to wonder if she herself knows the difference between correlation and causation. At times, there is not even a correlation shown by any study for some of the claims she makes. Her best work was toward the middle of the book where she began to demonstrate the more dynamic nature of the effects of environment (maltreatment) and biology (health). Thankfully, she did a really nice job discussing the "sensitivity gene" (serotonin allele variation) as well as the extremely important effects of perception of stress on the body's response to it. It was for this reason that I changed my mind about giving this book one star and ended up giving it 2. She ended part 3 by saying, "We can repair and regrow the underdeveloped neural connections." Such a pollyanna take on neuroregeneration that occurs in the hippocampus and migrates outwardly on microglia to the more distal regions of the brain or the connections made in various regions where neuron "wire together and fire together". I keep asking myself 2 questions: "Why is she saying this?!" and "Why am I still reading this?" Part 4 covers how to heal. The section begins by stating that so little is known about developmental trauma that it was not included in the DSM. But a little fact like that is certainly not going to stop someone who presents assumptions over facts. Thus the author simply waves that away and purports to be some type of authority who can help people heal. Maybe she is not a journalist but rather a guru or even medical medium? (maybe it's not worth 2 stars after all. It seems likely that as I reflect on this book, I will feel compelled to bump it down to one star.) She does have helpful suggestions about using mindfulness and meditation. These are excellent, and scientifically proven, methods to help promote the process of *general* neruoregeneration (not nearly how she portrayed it). Being associated with CBT, mindfulness helps individuals become more functional. Most of the other suggestions were not supported by evidence. Some parenting suggestions were supported by science but it simply wasn't enough to pull this book out of the quagmire. Even with the inclusion of really good science, this book is still filled with" just so stories" that are not even remotely supported by the data. This field is in its infancy. It's a worthwhile subject to study. In fact I am personally obsessed with it. There is much we can learn, but do yourself a favor and learn from a scientists or a better educated and more skeptical journalist.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carol Peabody

    There were so many "ah-ha!" moments in it for me personally, that I'm sure my objectivity is a little clouded. I wish I'd had access to this sort of information as a young adult, and especially before marrying and then becoming a "mom". But I am also happy to now have the information to finish dealing with personal issues that I've probably always realized - at some level - derived from my upbringing, not to mention how my own parents (and THEIR parents) were raised. As I began reading, I was vi There were so many "ah-ha!" moments in it for me personally, that I'm sure my objectivity is a little clouded. I wish I'd had access to this sort of information as a young adult, and especially before marrying and then becoming a "mom". But I am also happy to now have the information to finish dealing with personal issues that I've probably always realized - at some level - derived from my upbringing, not to mention how my own parents (and THEIR parents) were raised. As I began reading, I was visiting with one of my brothers, and we had some really good discussions about "the good ole days". There are two generally encouraging concepts I gleaned from my reading. (1) If you had early childhood adverse experiences, you're not alone - about 2/3 of American adults have endured ACEs of some number and type. (2) There are ways adults can successfully deal with the fallout of those experiences, and the author describes many. I will definitely be working with some of those. All in all, this is an awesome, and well-documented read. As a teacher, it will be invaluable working with my students.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mari McCarthy

    Learn how your reactions to childhood events (which we carry around in the our cells) contribute to our disease creation. Yes, our biography impacts our biology. Truly. This is the second Donna Jackson Nakazawa book I’ve read and once again her writing is compassionate and easy to understand. She shows us how we have the ability and power to heal ourselves. She provides many resources to help us in healing our biological wounds and gave me renewed confidence as I search for health care resources Learn how your reactions to childhood events (which we carry around in the our cells) contribute to our disease creation. Yes, our biography impacts our biology. Truly. This is the second Donna Jackson Nakazawa book I’ve read and once again her writing is compassionate and easy to understand. She shows us how we have the ability and power to heal ourselves. She provides many resources to help us in healing our biological wounds and gave me renewed confidence as I search for health care resources to partner with me to overcome my autoimmune disease.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Five flipping huge stars and an extra one for all the amazing conversations this book opened up. I cannot recommend this read enough, especially if you are a paren, someone who interacts with kids and teens, or someone who has struggled with chronic illness. By far the most eye-opening nonfiction read at this point in my PhD. Holy moly.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sara Budarz

    You know that saying, that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger? It turns out that while we have long assumed that was probably faulty logic, the more we learn about brains and brain plasticity and epigenetics, the more we now know for a fact it is crap: what doesn't kill you rewires you brain and leaves an imprint of trauma that not only leads to psychological issues down the road, but also, to health issues. Many, many, many health issues. And even 'mild' traumas of childhood (being teased You know that saying, that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger? It turns out that while we have long assumed that was probably faulty logic, the more we learn about brains and brain plasticity and epigenetics, the more we now know for a fact it is crap: what doesn't kill you rewires you brain and leaves an imprint of trauma that not only leads to psychological issues down the road, but also, to health issues. Many, many, many health issues. And even 'mild' traumas of childhood (being teased, feeling like an outsider at home or at school, parents who yell, even if not at you) have been shown to have damaging effects on our body, and have been linked to many autoimmune diseases (and other illnesses) that appear decades later. Decades. As in, that ulcer you get in our 30s? Look back at your adverse childhood experiences and chances are your answers might be found there. Which is to say: the research discussed in this book was fascinating. And horrifying. I sat there and at first read stories of intense traumas in the early chapters (parents being killed, etc), and thought: ah! Okay! My brain and body are safe. - Then I kept reading, and midway through the book, I figured I, along with almost everyone else, was absolutely ruined and faced a future of illnesses too great to list. - But then came the part about what we can do to rewrite and rewire our brains, and while that section felt a bit too flimsy, it at least gave me hope, mostly because I am already doing many of things recommended, such as having a daily meditation practice. But for anyone who is interested in brains, and health, and trauma, or who has any contact with children, ever - so pretty much everyone - I'd highly recommend reading this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    I learned so much from this book. As I face my 50s and live with a few chronic illnesses, it's been important to understand all kinds of possible causes. The cause of childhood stress is one I wouldn't know about were it not for Donna's books. Beyond the cause or contributing factors information, this book covers solutions. And, of course, putting solutions in place is an important part of healing. Highly recommend this for anyone who lives with chronic illness.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andria

    This is one of those books I feel ill-qualified to evaluate. Nakazawa is a medical journalist and someone who has dealt with chronic pain herself. I found her explanation of ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) to be persuasive and compelling, and her citations consisted of medical experts with verifiable credentials, including many from the CDC. So why does this still feel like fringe science to me and why haven't I heard of ACEs outside the context of this book? Perhaps the weakness of the conc This is one of those books I feel ill-qualified to evaluate. Nakazawa is a medical journalist and someone who has dealt with chronic pain herself. I found her explanation of ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) to be persuasive and compelling, and her citations consisted of medical experts with verifiable credentials, including many from the CDC. So why does this still feel like fringe science to me and why haven't I heard of ACEs outside the context of this book? Perhaps the weakness of the concluding sections on how to reverse impacts of stress on the body dragged the rest of the work down. The "12 steps to healing" is not a program so much as a list of therapies that might help, some of which are of dubious value and give the impression of grasping at straws, particularly considering the strengths of the previous section. Am I really supposed to believe that childhood trauma can more or less permanently alter my brain functioning and stress responses but that can all be reversed with a little therapy and journaling?? Making that logical leap without providing the necessary scientific backing is a huge ask and I just couldn't follow the author down that path. This part of the book was a huge letdown that only seemed to reinforce what lazy doctors tell chronic pain patients over and over again: it's all in your head. Upon reviewing the acknowledgements, it seems as though this book may have been rushed and perhaps not edited as carefully as the author may have liked. That's a real shame because I think the bones of a much better book are present here. As it stands, it's a decent primer on the concept of ACEs, but don't expect much more from it than that.

  10. 4 out of 5

    BMR, LCSW

    HIGHLY recommended for anyone who has a family history of mental illness, addiction, abuse, incarceration, molestation, suicide, and persons with autoimmune diseases. Also recommended for anyone who grew up in a house full of crazy (however you define it for yourself). Especially crucial reading for anyone interested in the fields of trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), public health, and the intersectionality of those fields. No one thing explains everything, but this book explains A LOT! HIGHLY recommended for anyone who has a family history of mental illness, addiction, abuse, incarceration, molestation, suicide, and persons with autoimmune diseases. Also recommended for anyone who grew up in a house full of crazy (however you define it for yourself). Especially crucial reading for anyone interested in the fields of trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), public health, and the intersectionality of those fields. No one thing explains everything, but this book explains A LOT! Plenty of studies, with sources, for you to investigate and seek out on your own.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Overall, I think this book did a good job of providing an overview of the topic in a concise and easy-to-read manner. I don't know a lot about the studies that were relied on, and feel the conclusions drawn may be somewhat overstated. Nonetheless, the book presents a compelling hypothesis that I think warrants further research and study.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marcia Barnes

    I think the writer did a great job of defining the issue and presenting relevant science and data for cause and effect. I felt she missed on solutions and prevention and what she did offer came late in the reading.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julia Torgrimso

    One of my biggest problems with this type of non-fiction book is that the author spends most of the book discussing the problem but does not offer valid, helpful suggestions to make things better. This book is different. The author not only offers suggestions to help you if you are the victim of childhood trauma but also gives ideas in how to help your child if they are the victim. These suggestions are quite helpful and doable.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bri

    2.5 stars rounded up I found the first half of this book to be confusing in how it was structured. Nakazawa seemed to jump from one idea to the next with no greater flow. However, I also found it really insightful and I learned a lot about how ACEs impact us as adults in a biologically tangible way. My chronic pain symptoms make a lot more sense in the context of the book. It’s validating to read play by play the cause and effect of childhood trauma on my brain and the rest of my body. Much more 2.5 stars rounded up I found the first half of this book to be confusing in how it was structured. Nakazawa seemed to jump from one idea to the next with no greater flow. However, I also found it really insightful and I learned a lot about how ACEs impact us as adults in a biologically tangible way. My chronic pain symptoms make a lot more sense in the context of the book. It’s validating to read play by play the cause and effect of childhood trauma on my brain and the rest of my body. Much more satisfying than “oh I’m just stressed.” I was less impressed by the second half of the book. I find it problematic, even. It gives a lot of generic info on how to combat the impacts of ACEs, nothing you can’t find online (meditation, therapy, art, DIETING). The dieting part really turned me off because if you’re chronically depressed or have trouble taking care of yourself, restricting/severely controlling your food intake creates a bigger issue IMO. Obviously fruits and veggies have good vitamins and things that your body likes but cutting sugar and processed foods out of my diet will only make me more depressed, I assure you. Nakazawa also pushes the idea of forgiving your abuser “for yourself.” I hate this concept, it diminishes responsibility for the abuse and puts the onus on the person who was abused to make things right or whatever. I don’t think that absolving someone of violence against you as a child is necessary for growth and moving on. You can absolutely hope that person fcks off and dies for the rest of your life while you happily move on and live your life without them. She doesn’t even suggest staying away from your abuser. Hard to believe this was written in 2015. I read lots of stuff about recovering from trauma and managing mental illness, so maybe this will be more awe-inspiring for someone who needs an intro to ACEs.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    We are in the midst of a revolution in understanding the role of chronic stress in the origins of physical and mental illness and addiction. The ACE (adverse childhood events) studies have provided a mountain of evidence that the circumstances of our early childhood correlate powerfully with our state of mental and physical wellbeing or illness. Nakazawa uses her journalistic skills and her own life story to illustrate the ties between early life events and physical illness and the pathway to tr We are in the midst of a revolution in understanding the role of chronic stress in the origins of physical and mental illness and addiction. The ACE (adverse childhood events) studies have provided a mountain of evidence that the circumstances of our early childhood correlate powerfully with our state of mental and physical wellbeing or illness. Nakazawa uses her journalistic skills and her own life story to illustrate the ties between early life events and physical illness and the pathway to true healing and resolution. The individuals she follows relate their personal narratives of hardship and how this lead to deteriorating health, and most inspirationally she follows their journey to come to terms with their personal circumstances and heal through journalling, art, meditation, therapy and body work. We need no longer see chronic physical and mental illness as something to be managed with medication and lived with. It is time to open our minds to the possibility of deep personal growth and healing. We are still very early into integrating the implications of the new science of developmental chronic stress and Nakazawa's work does an honourable job of pointing the way forward.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This year, for whatever reason, I’ve been fascinated with the brain, which is why I wanted to read this book. Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal looks at childhood trauma and how it affects our brain and biology, and how we can reverse the effects this early disturbance may cause. Nakazawa shares several people’s stories, in conjunction with scientific data, to illustrate how traumatic childhood events affect us physically and how it plays a role i This year, for whatever reason, I’ve been fascinated with the brain, which is why I wanted to read this book. Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal looks at childhood trauma and how it affects our brain and biology, and how we can reverse the effects this early disturbance may cause. Nakazawa shares several people’s stories, in conjunction with scientific data, to illustrate how traumatic childhood events affect us physically and how it plays a role in our physical and mental health as adults. She is careful to point out, several times, that adult illnesses are not fully the result of a bad childhood, but may play a bigger role in our health than we think. Nakazawa never dives too deep into the anatomy of the brain and only briefly touches on epigenetics—I was hoping for more science intertwined with the psychology—but it was still an interesting read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    This book is an excellent resource for both therapists and patients. I think it's easier to read than The Body Keeps the Score and more accessible for people unfamiliar with the whole issue of childhood trauma. It includes the checklist of Adverse Childhood Events so people can see for themselves what kinds of experiences are considered traumatic. Unfortunately, so many people who have suffered these kinds of events tend to think it was normal and accepted it as "the way it is" without understan This book is an excellent resource for both therapists and patients. I think it's easier to read than The Body Keeps the Score and more accessible for people unfamiliar with the whole issue of childhood trauma. It includes the checklist of Adverse Childhood Events so people can see for themselves what kinds of experiences are considered traumatic. Unfortunately, so many people who have suffered these kinds of events tend to think it was normal and accepted it as "the way it is" without understanding the impact it was having on them.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sivananthi T

    I was drawn to this book, simply because I have always analysed my own, my family's patterns in light of what experiences we had. Experiences of violence, poverty, trauma, sick parents all leave a mark on our view on life and of ourselves. A recognition that healing needs to happen both within a 'medical' setting as well as the 'inner' setting is essential. Books such as these advocate mindfulness and meditation. It was an interesting read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joan Porte

    The past is prologue. This is a very easy to read book which describes how childhood neglect and/or trauma has long-term consequences in our mental and physical health. A must read for anyone battling autoimmune and other debilitating illnesses for it may hold a hidden key from childhood.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Sauvé

    very much more on 'how your biography affects your biology' than on 'how to fix it' if looking for 'how to fix' this may not be the book for you (as it was not for me)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leilana

    Read it! This is one of the most important books I have read in my life! I am going to use so much of this knowledge in my life.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    Before even completion of reading this book I recommended it to my fellow readers on my FB page, "The Lost Self Life After Narcissism." That speaks to how well written it was. The research was superb and so very interesting. This is what I posted to my readers and will again share here: It's no surprise that emotional trauma we face in childhood affects us as adults. Physical changes in our brain and health of our immune system. I recently came across this book by Donna Jackson Nakazawa that add Before even completion of reading this book I recommended it to my fellow readers on my FB page, "The Lost Self Life After Narcissism." That speaks to how well written it was. The research was superb and so very interesting. This is what I posted to my readers and will again share here: It's no surprise that emotional trauma we face in childhood affects us as adults. Physical changes in our brain and health of our immune system. I recently came across this book by Donna Jackson Nakazawa that addresses ACE ( Adverse Childhood Experiences Study), which shows an irrefutable scientific link between many types of childhood adversities and the adult onset of physical/mental health disorders. I've included the ACE test here. It's 10 questions that are easily answered yes or no. If you respond yes you enter 1. Add up your score. I just began reading this insightful book this morning and can tell you it's truly interesting. Those of us who scored a 2 or more are roughly 40%. Those of us scoring 4 or more are 12.5%. In 1990, physician and researcher Vincent Felitti Md presented findings that he believed,"certain of our intractable public health problems had root causes hidden by shame, by secrecy, and by social taboos." While we are all responsible as adults, this books isn't to simply provide excuses or tell away all our problems but rather offer explanations to illnesses, disease, and other physical and neurological inflamations and life changing health outcomes that may be directly related to our past. The higher the score you received = Higher probability of doctors and medical care in your future. The Higher number= higher number of unexplained symptoms. People with score of four are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer than someone with zero and 460% more likely to face depression. Now of course we caution readers that their are many other attributable factors such as genetics, lifestyle, environment, toxins, and one's diet. A score of 6 or higher can shorten life span of 20 yrs according to the author. You may wonder is this due to unhealthy coping mechanisms due to anxiety or stress. Those with 7 or higher who had zero coping mechanisms such as overeating, drinking, smoking, overweight, diabetic, no high cholesterol etc still had 360% higher risk of heart disease than those with zero. In case you're wondering I scored a 4 possible 5 depending on how one questions was asked. I do have many ailments but like other personal stories shared in this book ( too many too address) I simply did what I could with what I had. Living below poverty doesn't provide better options in terms of health care, food supply, access to medication etc. So prior to turning 40 I now have degenerative disks in 3 major areas of back ( Thoracic, Lumbar, Cerebral), vertigo, adhd, placenta abruptio with child born with vater syndrome( muscular/skeletal abnormalities). I also had lost hair and skin patch that turned white from stress (vitiligo and alopecia) especially while living with my abusive ex spouse who I've since divorced 3 yrs prior. I had also numerous ailments while residing with him including lock jaw, grinding teeth, headaches, urinary tract infections, 3 back to back pneumonia requiring inhalers/nebulizers, constant sickness, panic attacks, high anxiety, eye twitching, shaky hands, and constant rattled nerves from the fight or flight response which was constant when dealing with a personality trait disordered person with malignant narcissism. Early stress therefore can lead to biomed disease. Time doesn't heal all wounds. One doesn't simply move on and get over it. Time has a way of concealing the truths. Human beings convert trauma experienced in childhood to organic disease in adulthood. More than 1500 studies now cite ACE Research . WHO (World Health Organization) now uses the ACE questionnaire seen here to help screen for emotional distress and trauma which may lead to poorer health. In the USA 29 states and DC are using ACE to help improve health. Childhood adversity damages us on a cellular level in ways that prematurely age our cells and affect longevity. One story shared in this book said how she had tried to move on knowing she felt different. She noticed misunderstandings as an adult became anxiety and she never understood why she reacted this way until she found this book. This book is not a catch all. It doesn't give you a get out of responsibility for one's actions excuse. It simply helps to explain what may have been repressed and the reasons many of us feel the way we do now much later in adulthood. This adversity from our childhood need not be severe to lead to chronic health problems according to the author. Recurring parent humiliation can lead to slightly higher detrimental impact which can lead to higher adult illness and depression. Lack of familial affection and parental discord can lead to changes in developing brain and smaller brain size and volume. As Ts Eliot once wrote in Four Quartets, " In my beginning is my end." Early trauma may lead to later illness. But Felitti and Anda's Research tells us that healings is more difficult if we do not recognize that our childhood plays a strong hand in whatever health problems we face now ( Felitti/Anda p 27).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jada Roche

    While there were a few moments of "huh, that makes sense" what I was really looking for were real solutions for fixing myself...the moment she started talking about Reiki I was done. I was already plenty aware of the impacts my childhood have had on me, I need a way to fix it. sadly, this didn't tell me anything I didn't already know.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Dugdale

    Giving this a four only because I felt there was some unnecessary repetition in place of stronger transitions, and also some distracting typos. But I love the connections between personal stories and scientific research from many different subspecialties. I think everyone should read this at some point.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Riding

    Very insightful and I learned a lot about myself.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa Acton

    Amazing stories and tips on childhood adversity. Tools and Information everyone needs to know how their childhood and others childhoods to help heal!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carla Mannes

    As a therapist who specializes in adverse childhood trauma, this book is a must. In fact I recommend that each of my adult clients read this book. Instead of wondering why, this book lays it out line upon line, precept on precept.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hailey Whitman

    F A S C I N A T I N G The book opens by introducing the ACE test, a test that deals with how much trauma one has experienced in life. This book shows studies on how greatly our lives are influenced by trauma experienced in childhood - how that plays out into adulthood - especially in the case of physical and psychological diseases.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    A more accessible and less triggering sharing of the concepts, consequences and resolutions for Adverse Childhood Events than The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk. The case studies are easy to follow, meaning there are the right number to make them useful throughout the book rather than so numerous you are distracted. I think every teacher, parent, and politician should read this. It keeps things clear and straight forward even when presenting some solutions that might seem “out there” or A more accessible and less triggering sharing of the concepts, consequences and resolutions for Adverse Childhood Events than The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk. The case studies are easy to follow, meaning there are the right number to make them useful throughout the book rather than so numerous you are distracted. I think every teacher, parent, and politician should read this. It keeps things clear and straight forward even when presenting some solutions that might seem “out there” or unorthodox. It ranks up there with Daniel Siegel’s Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose in the Teenage Brain in being practical and memorable.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Luminița Gabura

    A very good reading based on scientific researches and works, which outlines the impact that early childhood can have on adult life. The book presents multiple examples, making it easier to understand the concepts and to remember the potential resolutions. It is a perfect reading for anyone willing to know more about themselves, irrespective of their childhood. It provides great resources for those who want to deepen their knowledge.

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