lindsay!'s Reviews > The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook--What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce D. Perry
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's review
May 12, 2010

it was amazing
Read from May 09 to 13, 2010

This book rocks.
It's written by a child psychiatrist who specialized in working with traumatized children. He tells the stories of very bizarre cases that he has worked on, and how each form of abuse psychologically affects the children.
But what I really loved about this book (and what I thought was really unique) is that he goes further to explain the physiological effects of abuse -- like how the brain responds to threat or, neurologically, why learned behaviors are learned. And usually I think brain stuff is so boring, but he makes it very interesting. Here is a good example:
He explained how, usually, when faced with a threat, a person goes into fight-or-flight mode. If he decides to fight, his brain floods his body with chemicals that speed up his heart rate, flood his muscles with pumping blood, and essentially makes him feel invincible -- basically, prepares him to fight. However, when young kids feel threatened, they go into a mode of dissociation. Instead of flooding the body with "fight" chemicals, the brain floods the body with "prepare to die" chemicals. The brain is essentially accepting the fact that the little person is going to be killed, since he can't possibly take on the enormous threat. So the brain releases chemicals that slows down the heart rate, pulls blood in from limbs (to limit the damage that injuries may cause), and sends sleepy-feelings to the kid to make him feel calm. This may explain why some people faint or get frozen in terror.
I never knew any of this, and I thought it was really interesting.
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