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The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  4,799 ratings  ·  652 reviews
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris was already known as a crusading physician delivering targeted care to vulnerable children. But it was Diego — a boy who had stopped growing after a sexual assault — who galvanized her journey to uncover the connections between toxic stress and lifelong illnesses.

The news of Burke Harris’s research is just how deeply our bodies can be imprinted by A
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 23rd 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Lucille Zimmerman
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those rare books I could read in one sitting.

Even though the subject matter is sad at times, Dr. Harris's research is compelling. I'm a Licensed Professional Counselor, author, and teacher. I wrote about the ACEs study in my first book (Renewed).

Currently I'm in the process of finalizing a book about post-traumatic growth. I spent five years researching and writing about a fascinating phenomenon; one that most people don't know about: That is that some people are resilient to trau
Jan 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is poorly titled. "The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity" explains through storytelling what the ACE studies are and what they represent. Healing long-term effects is not addressed. At all.

There is much better information available to read about ACE studies if you are interested, that can easily be found online, without the muddiness of the storytelling format.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was so excited to read this book - the science of trauma and adversity are fascinating, important topics, and I was excited that the book had buzz that might bring more awareness to the research. And while the science, and the description of research and clinical cases in this book are excellently done, two pieces of the book were huge turn-offs for me:
1. The "me me me" style of the writing. Everything is about the author. Her feelings, her fund-raising, her fancy dinner parties. I kept having
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Five stars , I guess , for the concept and the fact that this research has helped so many kids over the years .

one star for the misleading title : I was expecting more of a work book and tips. There were, I suppose , two of them hidden.

meditate and exercise .
Lubinka Dimitrova
Although the title is somewhat misleading (the author explains in great detail the adversity itself, not so much how to heal its effects decades later), the book was extremely enlightening and offered me a much deeper insight into the mind-body connection and how our early childhood experiences affect our biology and even our DNA. Our adverse childhood experiences impact our behavior, our ability to learn and our health, with some of the effects showing up much later in life. Studies show that a ...more
Kathleen Janus
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for anyone who cares about children and the future of our society!! Thanks to Dr. Burke Harris's engaging storytelling, this was a book that I literally could not put down. ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is a book everyone should read, but it is not necessarily an easy-read. This brought back much of the pain I still keep tucked away.

Most people intuitively understand that unresolved childhood trauma can impact the mind and body of an individual. There's no surprise there. We know about the connection between trauma in childhood and risky behavior, alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders in adult life. What we are not aware of is that there is a connection between early life adversity
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Standing ovation for Dr. Burke Harris. For retaining, trusting, and pursuing common sense and gut feelings even when the research wasn't there (yet). For avoiding the fallacy that years of education and multiple advanced degrees hold all there is to know. For remaining a curious and passionate learner, investigator, and questioner of even her own knowledge - allowing her to see what others had concluded to be final diagnoses as symptoms of something much deeper. For humbly seeking out a communit ...more

When statistics have faces they feel a lot heavier. p122

Even a brief look at the statistics would give anyone reason to think this will be a heavy book. The enormity of the problem is staggering. But the remarkable Nadine Burke Harris has given us blueprint of possibilities and her book, as troubling as it, is infused with optimism and joie de vivre. Herself having grown up in adversary, she is definitely a woman with a mission, with the courage to speak truth and not only an inspiration to ever
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A topic very near and dear to my heart as I try to overcome the childhood adversity and adverse childhood experiences I experienced myself. I was only barely aware of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) prior to reading Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance, and being only one generation removed from ‘the hills’ myself, realized there was a lot I once thought was ‘normal’ for children that was not, in fact, normal. Whereas ACEs were only briefly addressed in Vance’s autobiography of childhood adversit ...more
I found this book quite informative. It explains how adversities during childhood can actually form your mental health, and affect your physical health. if you are looking for a book that goes into great detail about childhood adversities, I highly recommend this.
Jennifer Franz
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Here's the thing: there's not nearly as much about "healing" as there are about "causes". So the title is misleading. ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing

It's the key to understanding your challenges, your parents' challenges, and a brilliant and compassionate insight into how our bodies and brains work - no tear jerking, no pity, no pathologizing anyone. Simply an honest and educational look at how divorce, violence, verbal abuse, and many other stressful parts of our collective childhoods affect how we form attachment, manage stress and self regulate. I want to give this to everyone I know and start a discussion.
Ananya Chandra
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“If one hundred people all drink from the same well and 98 of them develop diarrhea, I can write prescription after prescription for antibiotics, or I can stop and ask, ‘What the hell is in this well?’”

With this statement, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris stresses a fundamental concept that I hope to carry with me as a future physician: treat the underlying problems, not just the symptoms. It is a concept that also makes up the heart of her book, The Deepest Well.

The term “ACEs” has been around since the
the study of adverse childhood events (ACEs) on long-term health is a fascinating and important realm of medicine. burke harris's book does a good job unpacking the idea and sharing real-life examples, and the science behind how the body is actually affected on cellular levels (not just the 'it's all in your head' dismissal so many people hear). but the book falls short in its lack of guidance for actual 'healing'. burke harris clearly notes the keys to improved outcomes that can be taught and i ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book slowly, over the course of a year, but every time I would read a section of it, it was all I could talk about. For some time, I was overwhelmed to learn about the medical consequences of childhood adversity. I certainly appreciated acquiring the language to talk about this connection between trauma and physical health, but I couldn't help but feel doomed. However, as I kept reading, I was inspired by Dr. Burke Harris's vision for universal Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) sco ...more
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
UNBELIEVABLY IMPORTANT BOOK TO READ if you're in education (or just a human being in this crazy world).

I'd heard of the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) test or scores but OMG I just had no idea that the premise is that ACEs can cause toxic stress and impact our biology--our neurological system, immune system, hormonal system, cardiovascular system, even how our body reads our DNA-- in ways that we are not fully in control of especially without a network of support. This in turn can impact
Reviews May Vary
This is not a self- help book, which is what some reviewers seem to have been expecting when they started it. It's a very accessibly written review of the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences and one pediatrician's process for becoming an advocate for medical professionals having a fuller view of their patients.

The audiobook is read by the author.

I read this to help a friend of mine prep a course for PNP students. Here are some of the reflective questions that I came up with for discus
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm so glad I read this. It's opened my eyes to so many things I don't always consider (especially as someone who has an ACE of zero). This world is so hard and full of pain, and people are suffering in so many ways that we do not fully realize. ...more
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris gives an engaging and moving performance narrating her audiobook The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity. Early in the telling, Dr. Harris tells the story of a 43 year-old male, who is the picture of perfect physical health and fitness and who has no other apparent risk factors, having a massive, debilitating stroke then attributes that stroke to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). I thought to myself, "Yeah, right. What a bunch of BS. The ...more
I give up. DNF at 30%.

Fist, the title of this book is misleading. I almost didn't check it out at all because the title made is sound like some kind of new-agey self-help workbook. Our library website provided a more detailed description that implied the book was about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) research conducted by Kaiser and the CDC that link long term health conditions and early death with extreme early childhood abuse/neglect. Unfortunately, that wasn't an accurate descriptio
Travel Writing
From the title, what was expected:

a book that deepened my understanding of the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) scores, how high ACE scores effect us (physically, emotionally, culturally) and ways to heal from said trauma.

What was offered: None of the above.

Look, I had some serious doubts when I was knee deep in this book and this Stanford trained Dr. was wailing about how so many of her clients (children from some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the area) were struggling in a myr
Beth Lind
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It makes so much sense that childhood adversity can cause health issues in childhood and later in adulthood. I get it. Childhood adversity is a problem that affects children (and later adults) in all walks of life. The ace score will definitely be on my mind as I work with children and their families. Well done!
DeQuan Willoughby
Favorite book of the year so far. ACE's impacts us all and their impacts are astonishing. I talked to my doctor (and my children's doctor) about the work and they had not heard of it...which surprised me and it didn't...i'm going to help spread this gospel. ...more
William Snow
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Deepest Well is a profound book written in incredibly accessible language (given its scientific complexity) by the sweetest, most passionate author, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. Perhaps STEM people are worse communicators on average, but there's a reason why high-communicating STEM folk end up making it to the top: they can not only see truth, but they can describe it, too, for others to see.

The book centers around the concept of ACEs — adverse childhood experiences — and how they effect health
Darian Jones
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Leaders, Policy-Makers, Educators
Recommended to Darian by: Dr. Jilliam Whatley
A Must-Read for well everybody in America.... not sure where I have been since this book was released but there have been few books ever written to have such a profound affirmation on the work and the my direction of the work with children, the adults in my life, and my own kids. Where I have lacked the words and research in my professional life about the designs of the schools and classrooms we have used, this book provides. Where I have struggled to properly articulate to the judges for my own ...more
Mark Feltskog
It is nearly impossible to understate the riches of this book. Dr. Harris accomplishes with aplomb the difficult feat of rendering scholarly medicine readable and understandable to the common reader. She is a lively stylist whose wise and humane insights offer much, again, to the common reader. However, I must say (I'm a special education teacher myself) that anyone who works with children, especially people who serve in inner-city schools, really must read this book for the sake of their profes ...more
Dec 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Had to read this for school and finally finished it. It was actually quite an interesting subject.
Alex Rohrer
Jun 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read, easy to digest, and highly useful information and stories.
Molly Schineller
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Unbelievably great book. If you have ever experienced emotional abuse or know someone affected by it, READ THIS BOOK. If you have ever experienced any stress in your life, READ THIS BOOK. So informative and feels like a required read honestly. Cameo by Kamala Harris also.
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A pioneer in the field of medicine, pediatrician Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is a leader in the movement to transform how we respond to early childhood adversity and the resulting toxic stress that dramatically impacts our health and longevity. By exploring the science behind childhood adversity, she offers a new way to understand the adverse events that affect all of us throughout our lifetimes. As t ...more

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“Children are compelled to give meaning to what is happening to them. When there is no clear explanation, they make one up; the intersection of trauma and the developmentally appropriate egocentrism of childhood often leads a little kid to think, I made it happen.” 6 likes
“Toxic stress response can occur when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity—such as physical or emotional abuse, neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship—without adequate adult support. This kind of prolonged activation of the stress-response systems can disrupt the development of brain architecture and other organ systems, and increase the risk for stress-related disease and cognitive impairment, well into the adult years.” 3 likes
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