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Healing the Wounds of Childhood: A psychologist’s journey and discoveries from wretched beginnings to a thriving life

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In this book, I share my personal story with you and my discoveries about what our bodies, our “selves,” and our relationships need in order to heal from the wounds of life, especially those we sustain in childhood. I wouldn’t wish my beginnings on anyone. There was only one possible way for me to survive the brutality I endured and that was to shut myself down. Essentiall In this book, I share my personal story with you and my discoveries about what our bodies, our “selves,” and our relationships need in order to heal from the wounds of life, especially those we sustain in childhood. I wouldn’t wish my beginnings on anyone. There was only one possible way for me to survive the brutality I endured and that was to shut myself down. Essentially, I was incapable of feeling. I was numb. Yes, my story is extreme, but it required me to leave no stone unturned to discover how to restore my humanity. I wanted to be able to really enjoy a long-term intimate sexual relationship with one person, to be able to tune into another’s emotional experience and empathize, to feel good and free in my body and spirit, to stand before groups and speak without fear, to age with vitality and grace, to look forward to adventures. I acquired all of these abilities during adulthood. As a young man embarking upon adulthood, I would have received an F in those subjects.


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In this book, I share my personal story with you and my discoveries about what our bodies, our “selves,” and our relationships need in order to heal from the wounds of life, especially those we sustain in childhood. I wouldn’t wish my beginnings on anyone. There was only one possible way for me to survive the brutality I endured and that was to shut myself down. Essentiall In this book, I share my personal story with you and my discoveries about what our bodies, our “selves,” and our relationships need in order to heal from the wounds of life, especially those we sustain in childhood. I wouldn’t wish my beginnings on anyone. There was only one possible way for me to survive the brutality I endured and that was to shut myself down. Essentially, I was incapable of feeling. I was numb. Yes, my story is extreme, but it required me to leave no stone unturned to discover how to restore my humanity. I wanted to be able to really enjoy a long-term intimate sexual relationship with one person, to be able to tune into another’s emotional experience and empathize, to feel good and free in my body and spirit, to stand before groups and speak without fear, to age with vitality and grace, to look forward to adventures. I acquired all of these abilities during adulthood. As a young man embarking upon adulthood, I would have received an F in those subjects.

38 review for Healing the Wounds of Childhood: A psychologist’s journey and discoveries from wretched beginnings to a thriving life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julene

    Healing the Wounds of Childhood is an excellent view of the introduction of somatic therapies and their history intertwined with psychotherapy. Don St. John, a PhD level psychologist, has a rich background and uses his own history to show how integrating the body into therapy is a key component of change. I appreciated his explanations of stress, how our birth affects us, and how trauma, not just the big T or PTSD, is derived from many experiences including our primary birth experience and our t Healing the Wounds of Childhood is an excellent view of the introduction of somatic therapies and their history intertwined with psychotherapy. Don St. John, a PhD level psychologist, has a rich background and uses his own history to show how integrating the body into therapy is a key component of change. I appreciated his explanations of stress, how our birth affects us, and how trauma, not just the big T or PTSD, is derived from many experiences including our primary birth experience and our time in the womb. Like him I started out with traditional therapy, like him I began to explore body work and found that this work through the body accentuated my growth, like him I came to a similar conclusion, "I could have stayed in talk therapy forever and would not have explored the depths I have managed to reach once I included the somatic therapies in my healing regimen. As important and valuable as good psychotherapy is, it is not enough." He has an excellent chapter that defines sensory motor amnesia (SMA) and how it equals the chronic tension so many experience. He explains in great detail the brain, our nervous system, and the 'heart brain.' He is a living example of the fluid work of Continuum movement, a work I myself have practiced since 1988. His doctor said it was a miracle, how he was able to walk around during and after a massive heart attack. And once discovered and having had a major surgery he healed exceptionally fast. He is a wounded healer who had an extremely abusive childhood, which he also uses in the book to show exactly how it affected his life and how he was able to change himself for the better. One of the questions Emilie Conrad, the founder of Continuum, asked first about the ability of a person to heal, "How exhausted is the person?" This is a key question for healing. We live in a speeded up environment, and Continuum is a process of slowing down and feeling into our fluid system. Don St. John writes an excellent, readable, explanation of how the interweavings of mind and body works. He utilizes his process of healing to exemplify how he was able to heal fast and well because of the fluidity he adapted through a variety of body therapies: he worked with Ida Rolf, who worked through fascia doing structural integration; he worked with Wilheim Reich, he worked with emotions and muscles, and he worked with Continuum Movement, with Emilie Conrad, she worked through the fluids of the body, and also he worked with Tom Hanna, who worked through the muscles, brain and antonomic nervous system. He studied with and had amazing experiences with many masters in the field. Also, with Peter Levine who founded Somatic Experiencing (SE), which works with trauma, and Diana Fosha who founded Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychtherapy, who works at the charge to let love into our being. And there are more. Not everyone can follow this long journeyed path, but we can gain from this excellent book and he gives us leads on how to find the sources. My only wish for the book is that it have an index. It has a great Bibliography at the back and is an incredible resource, I recommend to every therapist and lay person who is on a healing journey.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heiki Eesmaa

    The book has an appeal as a description of somebody's journey from disorganized attachment (ie serious childhood abuse) to higher than normal functioning. The author has studied with many important and interesting innovators of the human potential movement, even if he is no innovator himself. It is a natural synthesis but occasionally feels stale due to a lack of originality. The structure and style of the book are faitlrly unpolished. There appear to be errors that should not have passed the edi The book has an appeal as a description of somebody's journey from disorganized attachment (ie serious childhood abuse) to higher than normal functioning. The author has studied with many important and interesting innovators of the human potential movement, even if he is no innovator himself. It is a natural synthesis but occasionally feels stale due to a lack of originality. The structure and style of the book are faitlrly unpolished. There appear to be errors that should not have passed the editor's hand. I think 7 USD is a really fair price for it on Kindle. It probably is better thought of as a paid-for blog rather than as a proper book. I like it, so I rate it a bit higher than two stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Suzan Lemont

    I can't quite put my finger on why I didn't like this book more and why it took me so long to finish it. I may be that the author promises a great story of overcoming severe childhood mistreatment and trauma but doesn't tell the story very compellingly, cohesively, or completely. It could be because the chapters on the methods he highlights as being helpful in the recovery from trauma are too short and vague to be of any real practical or educational value to one who would like to incorporate so I can't quite put my finger on why I didn't like this book more and why it took me so long to finish it. I may be that the author promises a great story of overcoming severe childhood mistreatment and trauma but doesn't tell the story very compellingly, cohesively, or completely. It could be because the chapters on the methods he highlights as being helpful in the recovery from trauma are too short and vague to be of any real practical or educational value to one who would like to incorporate some of the work into their own practice. As an expressive arts therapist with a minor in psychology and 25 years of further self-study and immersion into trauma treatment since I got my Masters degree I didn't find quite as much that was new and inspiring as I had hoped. A bit of a mishmash really. I bought the book because it's one of the very few that mentions Hellerwork and ever since I read BodyMind by Joseph Heller (maybe 15 years ago) I have resonated deeply with that way of working and integrated some of the teaching into my own unique way of working. I did look at the TOC before buying but it didn't register that each method ST. John highlights is only given a few pages. I had a bit of a problem with how the experience of yet another privileged white male is given space while so many others are left untold, neglected, ignored and under-valued. The book is fairly recent but it feels like it was from an earlier era; one before so many were researching and writing about BIPOC and their bodies, and the experience of trauma from these more urgent perspectives. St. John's path of education and development would not be even remotely available to most Black or Latinx men, let alone womxn. This isn't acknowledged at all in the telling of the story. For someone completely new to the field, with little knowledge of polyvagal theory or any of the body-mind theories and practices he skims over it might serve as a decent introduction, and a digestible lesson on nervous system regulation but for a professional already using many of these methods it was a laborious read. I do have quite a few highlighted passages though, so there were some useful tidbits. But I had to really slog through it to get to them.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chandra Nagar

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gerry

  6. 5 out of 5

    Niro

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julie DiJoseph

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristie Townsend

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie Butler

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mai Le

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ali Hassan

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mgee Ho

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joel Arvizo

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kuly

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amber Krysti

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ash

  18. 4 out of 5

    Betsi

  19. 5 out of 5

    Krista

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer McGinness

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amy Harmon

  22. 4 out of 5

    Raghav Aditya

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kelli Santistevan

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dimana Peycheva

  25. 5 out of 5

    Camille En

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ashfakuzzaman Saikat

  27. 5 out of 5

    J C0llier

  28. 5 out of 5

    Phil

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ghin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Angela Mcentee

  31. 4 out of 5

    Dushyanth Edadasula

  32. 5 out of 5

    Kezang Choden

  33. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

  34. 4 out of 5

    Robert Allison

  35. 4 out of 5

    Yetiboy

  36. 4 out of 5

    Manpreet

  37. 4 out of 5

    James Bromfield

  38. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Souders

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