January 30, 2023

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9 Healing Books on Trauma

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Trauma is a complex subject, as these books on trauma will show. Different people can react in completely different ways to the same type of traumatic experience; An event that may have little impact on one person can be profoundly traumatic for another. Healing from trauma is also a very individual journey. Different forms of therapy can have different effects. What is life-saving for one patient may be counterproductive for another.

The experiences that lead to trauma can also be very diverse. Some people are traumatized by one particular, extreme incident, while others are traumatized by thousands of seemingly smaller yet touching events over time. Excluded people often experience systemic trauma as a result of a lifelong engagement with systems that treat them as others; For example, a Black person may be traumatized after many years of racist microaggressions, even if they have not experienced a single extreme event.

While trauma has many faces, there are also many paths to understanding and recovery. Whether you are working on your own trauma, want to help a loved one going through their healing process, or just want to learn more about how trauma affects the body and brain, there are many books on trauma that cover all aspects of this subject have dealt with a deep and complex subject. These books are a start, and for those who need more support, they can help open the door to seeking professional help.

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

We inherit more from our families than genetics, traits, or traditions; We can also inherit trauma. In It Didn’t Start With You, Wolynn examines how trauma can continue to affect family members even when a traumatic event happened long before they were born, and suggests ways people can recognize this generational trauma and begin to heal it.

The cover of My Grandmother's Hands

My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem

Another excellent exploration of how trauma can affect people across multiple generations, My Grandmother’s Hands specifically examines how racial violence and the resulting trauma impact mental and physical health. Menakem’s book discusses how racial trauma affects multiple communities and develops strategies for healing on both a personal and community level.

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The boy who was raised as a dog

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce D. Perry and Maira Szalavitz

Harrowing but revealing, The Boy Who Raised a Dog is based on child psychiatrist Bruce Perry’s experiences of working with children who have endured horrific abuse. The book addresses the effects of trauma on the brain, but is ultimately hopeful, arguing that healing is always possible, no matter what horror someone has gone through.

What My Bones Know cover

What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo

In this memoir, Stephanie Foo talks about how she received her C-PTSD diagnosis after being abused by her parents during her childhood, which led to them abandoning her as a teenager. Combining her personal story with interviews with psychiatrists and therapists, Foo delves deep into complex PTSD and generational trauma.

Coverage for adult children of emotionally debilitated parents

Adult Children Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson

Trauma can occur for many different reasons, but one of the most common is a difficult, contentious, or abusive relationship with one’s parents. Gibson goes through different types of emotionally immature parents, from passive parents who avoid awkward situations to the detriment of their children, to “driven” parents who are overly busy and too focused on perfection. She assures the reader that they are not responsible for their parents’ actions or attitudes, and shares skills on how to deal with difficult family situations in the future.

Living While Black cover

Living While Black by Guilaine Kinoani

Guilaine Kinoani draws on her many years of experience as a therapist and radical psychologist in Living While Black, a guide on how black people can protect their mental health and well-being while living in the traumatic environment of a white racist world. With sections on setting psychological boundaries, handling conversations about racism, and protecting children from racial trauma, Living While Black is essential reading.

Overcome Your Past cover

Getting Over Your Past by Francine Shapiro

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that involves processing traumatic memories while performing conscious, specific eye movements. This process, developed by Shapiro, has yielded significant results for many patients. Getting Past Your Past describes how to use the technique to process past negative experiences, from everyday upsets to severe trauma, and helps the reader explore their past and mindset to better understand themselves.

Decolonizing trauma work cover

Decolonizing trauma work by Renee Linklater

In this important book, Renee Linklater focuses on healing trauma in indigenous communities. Taking a holistic approach, Linklater considers the importance of ending racial discrimination and ensuring healing occurs not just at the individual level, but as part of the restoration of institutions such as education, healthcare and political systems. Decolonizing Trauma Work draws on the work of ten indigenous health practitioners and is an essential guide to addressing trauma in indigenous communities.

Heavy cover

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Layman

In this memoir, novelist Kiese Layman explores many traumatic parts of his past, including childhood sexual assault, his struggles with anorexia and gambling, and his complicated relationships with his mother and grandmother. Heavy is a deeply personal book that takes an honest and candid look at one man’s trauma and survival.

If you’d like to read about people’s own experiences in more books about trauma, try our list of 9 memoirs about trauma recovery. For a look at some fascinating studies, try how horror helps process grief and trauma.