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Trauma and Recovery

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  5,515 ratings  ·  195 reviews
When Trauma and Recovery was first published in 1992, it was hailed as a groundbreaking work. In the intervening years, Herman’s volume has changed the way we think about and treat traumatic events and trauma victims. In a new afterword, Herman chronicles the incredible response the book has elicited and explains how the issues surrounding the topic have shifted within the ...more
Paperback, 247 pages
Published May 30th 1997 by Basic Books (first published 1992)
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Hp This book is so very illuminating; echoing (in other words) what I have been working on with my therapist for the past 5 years. I did not read or…moreThis book is so very illuminating; echoing (in other words) what I have been working on with my therapist for the past 5 years. I did not read or infer any victim-blaming in this book. Ms. Herman does say there IS much victim-blaming from all corners of society. How those who had to sublimate themselves in order to survive as children and so were not able to fight back then, have unlearned how to recognize dangerous situations and fight back now. She also discusses how many women who experience abuse/incest will unconsciously reenact it (repetition compulsion). What I've experienced, and what I read in Ms. Herman's book, is that knowledge of Complex PTSD (as opposed to PTSD) from childhood abuse of any kind and/or incest is so frightening to most people and fraught with the perils of upsetting the patriarchal power paradigm's status quo, that even therapists who specialize in this field contend with being ostracized by their peers. Best of Luck - it takes a lot of guts and perseverance to go through recovery from C-PTSD.(less)

Community Reviews

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Apr 25, 2014 jo rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mental health professionals, teachers, counselors, helpers of all stripes
i just taught this for the first time. for some reason, this time around the book had a tremendously disruptive impact on me. it was, simply put, like going through a trauma experience. the last part, about the three stages of recovery, gave me palpable relief, as if i were going through recovery myself as i read the book with the class.

reading it with a group made a huge difference. at least some of the students experienced some level of traumatization. it was important to debrief at the end. s
Nov 22, 2010 Tinea rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, but esp. survivors/people who think they are crazy bc the world makes them jumpy
Recommended to Tinea by: homework from my therapist
I can't do this book justice with a review. Feminist, short, and packed with information about what PTSD is, how it comes about, and how to heal it. Applied philosophy resulting in the sort of "holy shit!" moments that had me dragging friends out on long walks around lakes and organizing two-person slumber parties just so I'd have a chance to share some of these lessons learned. To adequately summarize this info, I'd basically need to copy the whole book here, so just go out and read it. This bo ...more
I first fanboy squealed on page 11, when Judith Lewis Herman created a connection between mental illness and feminism, two of my favorite topics. In the first third of Trauma and Recovery, Herman discusses the history of trauma and how trauma relates to many other concepts, such as politics and warfare. In contemporary society people insulate and isolate the topic of mental illness with alarming speed, so delving into its pervasiveness in all areas of life brought its magnitude back into focus. ...more
Ah-ha, there it is. I've been looking for this book for about five years now. Not this book, I mean, but a book that frames a discussion of post trauma pathologies with feminist discourse without being . . . what's the word I'm looking for? Annoying. This book does that. It's fascinating, actually, starting in with the history of trauma's emergence into public consciousness in connection with successive political movements (secular humanism, postwar relief, feminism). Then on through symptomolog ...more
Don't let the rating lead you to believe that this book is not essential and extremely helpful reading on trauma and the challenges it poses to individuals in healing. The reasons I did not rate it higher was the pathologizing use of diagnostic categories, an emphasis on the healing relationship that tended to the therapist 4x more than the survivor (16 pages to 4 respectively, but arguably because of the intended audience and the expertise of the author), and the distorting separation of the st ...more
Erin Drake
It is easy to see why Judith Herman’s visionary book Trauma and Recovery is considered a classic in the field of psychology. In her work, Herman describes the conditions that create posttraumatic stress and then details a path of recovery. She explores the many manifestations of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder within the human mind, body and spirit then identifies the interwoven and overlapping stages of trauma recovery with clarity and purpose. Most notably, Herman describes the difficulty of t ...more
Recommended to me by one friend, then I borrowed it from another, and immediately lent it to someone else as soon as I'd finished it. This is a great book! The author outlines clear, easy to understand psychology. It's geared towards those who are training to become mental-health professionals, but without any jargon.
To me, it seems like the best type of self-help book because, for a non-mental health professional, it tells you how to be your own counselor to a degree (or to best handle a loved
Joseph Harriott
Excellent. If you just read one book on the rise of the psychoanalytic world view, just read this one. The first chapter is a devastating critique of how Freud, understandably, abandoned the women that taught him the talking cure, and invented the Oedipus complex to explain away their disturbing stories of sexual abuse. Herman also explains how 1950s American women, freed from domestic drudgery to have time to discuss and question some of their abusive experiences, and then the returning Vietnam ...more
This was assigned reading in my first year of graduate school, and eight years later, I still refer to it. It's my professional bible. Judith Herman has written the quintessential book on trauma. She somehow has managed to convey all the complex elements of this phenomenon in less than 250 pages. She also (as far as I know) was one of the first to differentiate between single incident trauma and ongoing trauma. She writes in a style that is simple enough for anyone to read but does not sound sim ...more
I read this a LONG time ago during the 90's when my therapist gave it to me. She was the best therapist ever- I probably suffered from I love my therapist can she please be my mommy syndrome with her. She always gave me excellent material to read and mull over. This was one of those books and I forgot the title of this. I only just now was able to find it after inputting a ton of random searches on google looking for it. I'm so glad because I want to do a re reading of this! I will also give the ...more
James Curcio
I'm about halfway through at the moment. This is incredibly well researched and should be required reading on the subject. There are a few issues I would raise that very well could be seen as the mere result of the book being 20 years out of date -- such as the ongoing subtext that 'war PTSD' is a man's affliction while domestic abuse is the woman's version of the same -- although on the one hand it is made clear that these are often the same underlying issue, that is after all the premise of th ...more
May 13, 2012 Carol rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Herman's book is amazing, a landmark in psychological studies, and a must-read now, more than ever, if we wish to understand and help everyone from victims of domestic violence to the incredible numbers of war veterans who have returned as sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorders. No other author I have read pegs the complexity of psychological trauma -- and recovery -- with such depth or clarity in such a brief space. I can't recommend this book highly enough. From her intro:

The ordinary re
This is a book about trauma and the therapeutic process of recovery. The author was very clear from the beginning that it is written from a feminist point of view, which explains some of the absurd warping of common sense. For example, she claims that society gives women very little permission to talk about their feelings, which is actually a gender reversal--it's far less acceptable for men to talk about their feelings. She even claims that talking about feelings constitutes the scientific meth ...more
Betsy Ashton
Dr. Herman opens the door to trauma and its causes in easy to understand, non-medical language. From child abuse to rape to combat trauma, she discusses each type of trauma in turn, points out the differences between them, and goes into depth about the types of treatment that lead to recovery.

Beginning in the early years of psychiatry when women who were abused were called hysterics. Until the mid and late sixties, psychiatrists didn't have the vocabulary to lead patients to talk about childhood
Alison Robinson
I recommend this book for anyone in a helping profession (psychology, counseling, teaching, pastoring, mentoring, health care, etc.). Be prepared as a reader to read of some of the more horrific sides of human existence and the sufferings that daily occur on our planet, and even in our own neighborhoods and families. I am a counselor and see the effects of trauma on a daily basis in clients. This book provides great information and insight into the experience of survivors of trauma and the journ ...more
you'd think i would have had enough of this stuff by now... but herman presents trauma and the study of trauma within a historical context -- as hysteria, shell-shock, or rape and other forms of sexual abuse. she seeks to connect experience, finding common ground for trauma survivors to stand on, thus conquering (at least in part) the debilitating isolation that so many people (veterans, rape-survivors, etc.) experience. something that she says in the first chapter -- which, honestly, is as far ...more
If I could pick one book to make everybody read, it would be this one. This is one of the most important books I've ever read. Now considered a classic of trauma psychology, it was written by the feminist psychiatrist Judith Herman. It is eloquently written and researched, accessible to both beginners of trauma studies and long-time academics. Herman not only gives an in-depth, nuanced overview of how trauma works at the level of individual experience, but she takes trauma to the political realm ...more
This is a fantastic (in the sense of well-done and highly readable, but probably not in the sense of cheerful) accounting and analysis of the history of trauma studies and caregiving. It is a field with a lot of interesting history and Herman gives a really gripping, detailed but lively, and lucid account of that history and places it in an analytical framework that (for me at least) really sheds a lot of light on how we tend to think about trauma and how it might be useful to expand our thought ...more
Alex Daniel
For anyone interested in trauma or post-traumatic stress, this book is a must-read. If you are a student of clinical psychology, interested in abused populations, this book is a must-read. If you are a practicing clinician, this book is a must read.

TRAUMA AND RECOVERY may as well be the definitive text on the subject. Or, at least for now. Originally released in the '90s, the book has held up terrifically to new research in the field. Herman's writing is very clear and striking, and she often st
How could I ever review this book well? My review will lack, I guess ;)

When I started reading this book I was doing research on the influence of fairy tales in the process of recovering from trauma. And although Herman doesn't talk about fairy tales (apart from a very brief mentioning of folktales in the introduction), there was no academic 'use' for me reading "Trauma and Recovery". I did read on, because it was on the one hand very interesting and insightful. I'm not a victim of trauma, but I
Initially NO
A very accessible book that fits in well with peer support projects. A good manual for a facilitator, therapist, carer as well as anyone who wants to understand their experiences from a supportive, therapeutic point of view. It does use the term ‘survivor’ as well as ‘trauma’ and does have some case studies. For those who are affected by trauma, the book it may bring emotions to the forefront. It may also give the reader strength and recognition.
I found supportive ways to look at moving through
I read this book for my class, Women's Narratives of Healing. It's very interesting. We used it to discuss the traumatic situations we read of and discussed.
This is a great book about the stages of trauma recovery. Very useful.
This books stays true to its covers quote: "one of the most important psychiatric works to be published since Freud." It is such an amazing and important read for everyone, not only for social workers and psychologists, because no matter how much or how long we try to educate people about violence and its aftermath, it never gets easier to get their full attention - to get them to acknowledge its existence. That it why this book is so important. It should be read and talked about and discussed a ...more
Courtney Williams
The book: Trauma and Recovery

The author: Judith Lewis Herman, American psychiatrist specialising in incest and traumatic stress.

The subject: A ground-breaking feminist treatment of trauma aimed at those training to become mental health professionals.

Why I chose it: Because I have experienced trauma from which I wish to recover. Also, I was interested in reading a more academic approach to PTSD.

The rating: Four and a half out of five stars

What I thought of it: This book offers an incredibly impor
Margaret Zhang
Jan 05, 2013 Margaret Zhang rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Margaret by: Miriam Marton, MSW, JD
As the back cover says itself, this book is a classic in the field of psychology - and deservedly so. I found each chapter to be compelling and well supported. Some memorable excerpts:

"To hold traumatic reality in consciousness requires a social context that affirms and protects the victim and that joins victim and witness in a common alliance. For the individual victim, this social context is created by relationships with friends, lovers, and family. For the larger society, the social context i
Unsure of how I discovered the book but as the other end of the therapeutic spectrum, not as psychologist or educator but as a undiagnosed PTSD victim or survivor? I sought out the difference to my own life experiences of personal losses and victimization. Herman's book was invaluable for me as a person looking for another mind who connected the dots of CSA. My situation differs in the length of time and the circumstances prior to being sexualized as a child. It helped me understand history, cli ...more
Young-In Soh
This book was given to me by my father, who got it from someone he knew. I skimmed through it the first time I received it, out of respect for my dad. I wanted to read it at least once. Years past. It was this year that I decided I would read it how I read my Bible. I read about a chapter a week and meditated on what I read. I thought about what I read and how it related to me and people I knew.

This book is targeted to those that are interested in pursuing a career in psychology and counseling;
Anne Jordan-Baker
I read this book because it was recommended by a reviewer of Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience, by Laurence Gonzales (2013). I loved the Gonzales book as a fascinating look at the human capacity for resilience after trauma and the brain research about such resilience. Trauma and Recovery really does take a different stance, essentially saying that people do not usually recover from trauma without a lot of intervention, sometimes taking years. I think both books are worth read ...more
Fantastic book that truly helped me when I was in the stages of recovery and was in desperate need of a book that would clearly explain to me what impact trauma can have and how one can attempt to recover. It is a very good mix of the scientific and the practical - you certainly do not need a psychology degree to understand it but you don't feel like she is dumbing down at all. Would recommend if you wish to understand more about the subject or if you too are looking for an aid to recovery. Can' ...more
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Judith Lewis Herman is an author, psychiatrist, researcher, and teacher whose work has dealt with understanding and treating the effects of traumatic stress and incest.
More about Judith Lewis Herman...
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“Many abused children cling to the hope that growing up will bring escape and freedom.

But the personality formed in the environment of coercive control is not well adapted to adult life. The survivor is left with fundamental problems in basic trust, autonomy, and initiative. She approaches the task of early adulthood――establishing independence and intimacy――burdened by major impairments in self-care, in cognition and in memory, in identity, and in the capacity to form stable relationships.

She is still a prisoner of her childhood; attempting to create a new life, she reencounters the trauma.”
“The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.” 102 likes
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