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Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  735 ratings  ·  77 reviews
Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors integrates a neurobiologically informed understanding of trauma, dissociation, and attachment with a practical approach to treatment, all communicated in straightforward language accessible to both client and therapist. Readers will be exposed to a model that emphasizes resolution--a transformation in the relationship to on ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published March 17th 2017 by Routledge (first published 2016)
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Alexandra
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is transformative. It's not an easy read and may be a slog for those who don't have a background in trauma, but boy, is it ever worth the read. The idea at the centre of her book, that instead of leaning into integration, we need to lean into dissociation, is revolutionary. And it is by doing just that that we can help people heal. We need to welcome all the parts back to their home, and make sure there is a grown up there to embrace them, hold them, and see them through. With that, yo ...more
Alexis
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a fabulous text that provides practical skills for working with clients with trauma and dissociation (though I suspect non-dissociative clients may also benefit from parts of this intervention too). I very much appreciate the respect Fisher cultivates for the client's own resources, self-compassion and autonomy. Fisher deeply understand this population, and I am honoured to be able to incorporate her wisdom and expertise into my own clinical practice. ...more
Johanna
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book resonated with me and provided many insights on what is going on inside a person struggling with fragmented parts of himself. It's like a barrier between you and the world, then a barrier within yourself that you try to overcome so you could function well, and so much more. I first tried a sample of its eBook and I found out that it had depth in a way that it spoke from what the person feels from the inside out which, unfortunately, is often being minimized or misunderstood. I bought t ...more
Reba
I have just reread this book in July 2022, two and a bit years since my first reading. Last time, I was a bit disappointed and found it pathologizing at times. However, having read many books on therapy over the last several years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I find most therapy books patholgizing to some degree (including ones I absolutely love, as I have come to with Healing The Fragmented Selves), which I ascribe to the binary labelling of ‘mentally ill’ vs ‘mentally healthy’ and the lac ...more
Emily
Good, comprehensive introduction to the topic. It raised a lot of questions for me, too. I've read other books on trauma, but this was the most triggering read for me as someone who deals with these issues. If that applies to you, go slow and be gentle with yourself. ...more
Titplum
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is truly enlightening. It brings an original view on trauma and what happens inside. The more I read and the more I identified with the author's ideas. I've been struggling with my demons for a long time and this book gave me hope that there is something I can do to improve the situation.
It would be best to work on it with a therapeut who is familiarized with this concept but unfortunately they aren't easy to find depending on where you live.
Regardless, I'll try by myself.
I really rec
...more
Sara
Aug 03, 2022 rated it really liked it
Not a self-help book but rather aimed at mental health providers. This was recommended to me by my therapist so I could understand the concept of internal self-alienation and strategies to mitigate. The title is very gnarly, but the concepts in the book are relevant both to folks who have experienced intense / disturbing trauma as well as to folks who might be dealing with a more garden variety kind of trauma caused by an emotionally fraught childhood home life.

The book has been helpful for me
...more
lala
Jun 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Wow it took me a long time to finish this as an audiobook! It took a while to get used to the writing style, it definitely required my extensive background in trauma work and studies to understand, and was very flowy. It was written in a very run-on sentence, flowy, dense way. I got very triggered at times because there was not enough concrete information on ways parts work can be done wrong, and when to differentiate between when a part is upset and when an adult self is upset by something vali ...more
Jenny Ching
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Should be required reading for not only health professionals but also the bureaucrats in charge of allocating funding and resources. The mainstream mental health system needs to open itself up to the groundbreaking and evidence based tsunami of information coming out showing that interpersonal trauma is a major contributor to physical illnesses and mental distress of all types.
Shelley Diamond
This is an excellent book on the reality of working with trauma survivors. Highly recommend it. My professional experience working with many people who struggle with these issues is consistent with her approach on what is helpful and what is not helpful....
Andrea Bussinger
May 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It would take me days to sing the praises of this book. I was looking for something to help me integrate EMDR therapy, Parts Work, and general trauma-informed psychotherapy. This book does all that and more, providing a surprisingly comprehensive framework for working with dissociation. For several months it was my go-to whenever I was doing a case conceptualization - so much that I'd reference or quote it during supervision sessions! I now feel much more comfortable identifying dissociative sta ...more
Authern Xu
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The author discusses in detail about how to integrate different parts of fragmented selves that a trauma survivor carries within their minds in order to survive complex childhood trauma. Throughout the book, Dr. Fisher also provides detailed examples of how to navigate the different parts of a client and how to interact with these parts to form a cohesive narrative for a survivor. A must read for survivors and practitioners alike.
Kate Wester
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has been immeasurably helpful in helping me integrate different approaches into my work with clients. Most notably somatic work, parts work, mindfulness and compassion focused therapy. My understanding of working with complex trauma and structural dissociation has taken a giant step thanks to this book!
Eileen
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has really informed my practice when listening to clients who have survived child abuse. There is a practicality about it combined with compassion and understanding as well as a scholarly approach.
Laura
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic text. I wouldn't say this lightly, but I think this book will change my life. ...more
Miriam
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book about trauma and using and identifying parts of self. I love the exercises at the back of the book and have used them with many of my clients.
Carolynne
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book introduced me to a new world of counseling and I'm already seeing improvements in how I work with my clients. ...more
Jeff Smith
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
For anyone living with DID or alongside someone who is, this book is amazing.
Long Soul System
Introducing "language of parts". Probably very "threatening" to the classical psychological and old way to see the human mind with trauma related parts.
I'll use this many times.

Some might think this inclines clinical practice to iatrogenic practice but NO, STOP. This is only meant to be used (as it says) with people with trauma related parts, not the general population (duh!)

I enjoyed this. Though I think it felt short at times.
...more
Matt
No rating – this is a book written for practicing therapists, and as a curious non-professional, it didn’t seem appropriate to attach a rating.

I did find this fascinating, though. Janina Fisher’s approach to trauma recovery builds on both the “body keeps the score” understanding of trauma pioneered by Bessel van der Kolk and internal family systems (IFS) therapy. I was unfamiliar with IFS before this, but I thought Fisher included sufficient information about it that I was able to understand wit
...more
Paige P
I highly recommend this book for psychotherapists working in the field of trauma. Janina Fisher has expertly taken the next step in treating trauma survivors using Internal Family Systems and demonstrating through clinical case studies how to help clients recover from dissociative disorder and trauma. This book is technical and written from a neurobiological perspective and must be absorbed sentence by sentence. In other words, it is not a fast read, but a challenging endeavor. It has changed th ...more
Ben
May 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Let me start off this review by stating that this book is not for everyone. This book is written more for mental health professionals rather than the general public. However, I still highly recommend this book if you or someone you care about deals with any sort of mental “fragmentation”. The most extreme version of this would be DID (previously known as multiple personality disorder) but many of us actually have some sort of fragmentation due to different traumas. While I didn’t “enjoy” reading ...more
Zoe
Jul 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got a lot out of this primer on how Internal Family Systems therapy works (as well as learning something about Sensorimotor therapy). I finally understand what the phrase "inner child work" is supposed to mean, and why that isn't a silly new age-y idea. Basically, when we are triggered and experience challenging emotional responses based on earlier life traumas, it can help to first externalize the response as belonging to the person we were at the time of the trauma, and then working to emoti ...more
Gehan Osama Abdelgawad
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It dives deep into an easy concept. Trauma survivors may experience dissociation similar to patients of dissociative identity disorder, but instead of it being multiple consciousnesses, it’s multiple “parts”. It is important to bring these little parts home. The book was amazing. Every therapist needs to read this. However, it had unnecessary repetition. This repetition didn’t make me like the book less though. It just made me take so much time to finish the book. Highly recommended. I will appl ...more
Jasmine St. John
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
By far the best book I have read thus far on approach to combining IFS and a systems approach to working with clients. Fisher really knows her stuff. Not easy work for an individual or a therapist, but very rewarding for all involved. I highly recommend this book to any therapist out there because you are going to find more clients having "parts" than not. You might as well learn the best way to help yourself and others heal and move ahead. ...more
Jeremy Meadow
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best psychology books I’ve ever read. This book effectively explains both the human-perceived and neurobiological impacts of trauma, and walks the reader through what exercises to do using thinking, feeling, and observing to repair past trauma, while also describing the biological details of what is happening in the brain when these exercises are performed. I know this is a cliche line, but I truly hope I can look back and say “this book changed my life.”
Liam
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very informative

Explains how the mind develops parts when experiencing trauma or neglect. They take on important roles whose aim is to protect us from something that stems from the past. How to listen to what the parts have to say, and tell them thank you for the help you have given me over the years, but I got this,
Mari Stewart
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am not a professional in the mental health field. I came to this book from the perspective of a patient. With that in mind, I found it a good introduction to IFS theory. It is direct and informative. Professionals in the field with a background in IFS might find the book lacking in depth for their needs.
Enswanson
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The amount of time it took me to finish it has nothing to do with my lack of interest in it. Life interfered and slowed my reading over the holidays. Fisher is in the same caliber as Linehan in creating a truly nuanced, understandable and non-pathologizing treatment for attachment trauma and wounding. Highly recommend.
Jodie Skillicorn
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dense book, but filled with valuable information and pearls for all trauma informed therapists and healers. I don’t think there is a single page in the book in which I did not highlight multiple lines of wisdom, advice, or insight.
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“We began then to see trauma-related disorders not as disorders of events but as disorders of the body, brain, and nervous system. The neurobiological lens also resulted in another paradigm shift: if the brain and body are inherently adaptive, then the legacy of trauma responses must also reflect an attempt at adaptation, rather than evidence of pathology. Through that neurobiological lens, what appears clinically as stuckness and resistance, untreatable diagnoses, or character-disordered behavior simply represent how an individual’s mind and body adapted to a dangerous world in which the only “protection” was the very same caretaker who endangered him or her. Each symptom was an ingenious solution by the body to create some semblance of safety for the developing child or endangered adult. The trauma-related issues with which the client presents for help, I now believe, are in truth a “red badge of courage” that tell the story of what happened even more eloquently than the events each individual consciously remembers.” 3 likes
“What makes earned secure attachment unique, however, is its correlation with parenting that promotes secure attachment in the next generation (Roisman et al., 2002). This research challenges the prevailing view that suboptimal attachment in the parent generation predicts the likelihood of providing less-than-optimal attachment experiences for the next generation. Instead, it suggests that human beings can transform the implicit memories and explicit narrative of the past by internalizing healthy adult attachment experiences until they achieve the benefits conferred by secure attachment. The fact that earned secure attachment transmits the ability to offer the same to the next generation is a hopeful sign. It implies that we can help our clients bring a stop to the intergenerational legacy of trauma in their families and create a new legacy through the intergenerational transmission of secure attachment.” 1 likes
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