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

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  1,620 ratings  ·  259 reviews
A pioneering physician reveals how childhood stress can lead to lifelong health problems, and shows us what we can do to break the cycle.

Two-thirds of us have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience, or ACE, such as abuse, neglect, parental substance dependence, or mental illness. Even though these events may have occured long ago, they have the power to haun
Published January 23rd 2018 by Simon Schuster Audio
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4.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,620 ratings  ·  259 reviews

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Lucille Zimmerman
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.
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
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 .
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Kathleen Janus
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: psychology
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
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Julia Rose
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Here's the thing: there's not nearly as much about "healing" as there are about "causes". So the title is misleading.
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
Janett Riebe
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harris discusses the long term effects that physical and mental adversity have on all children, the ways to treat it and her advocacy in promoting it and encouraging all physicians to screen for it in all of their young patients by using the ACE test (My Adverse Childhood Experience). I was surprised to read that childhood adversity actually changes a person’s DNA possibly leading to “disease and early death”. Harris does a great job explaining the process without too much technical jargon.
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
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this down.
You might want to have some tissues handy. (I was brought to tears multiple times. Super awkward on an airplane surrounded by only strangers.)

I've been in love with Nadine Burke Harris' work since I stumbled upon her TED talk a few years ago. Although my bias had me set up anticipating I'd enjoy the book, my expectations were also set high.

Harris does not disappoint.

A carefully balanced volume, it weaves tales of childhood adversity with scientific study and stats. Hav
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.
Melania 🍒
Beth Lind
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Christina Dudley
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, science
Everyone should read this book. Dr. Harris (who I'd never heard of because I am the only remaining person on the planet who has never listened to a TED talk) shares her learnings from years of research and boots-on-the-ground pediatric-clinic work. In short, experiences of childhood adversity have an outsize effect on your longterm health. Routine screening for number of adverse childhood events (your ACE score) can help physicians and those interested in holistic healing better treat patients. ...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
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a hard book to read, because of the subject matter, but it is so important. I wish I had had the knowledge that I've gained from this book 30 years ago. In some ways it provides some sense of peace, because now I have some idea where certain physical problems that I have may have come from. But it's also frustrating and a bit scary to know that the effects of the stress response may not be done with me yet.
Geoff Winslow
This book was a useful and informative exploration of the trauma-related medical research performed by both Harris's team and others, specifically around the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on long-term growth and development.

ACEs impact childhood development by causing a young person's body to be subjected to an unhealthy amount and duration of stress hormones. Harris shows that recent research identifies that prolonged exposure to stress during critical periods of development g
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very easy to read. This is not what makes it good, however it will make it very palatable for who I would have in mind to read it: students in health professions (medical school, public health, etc).
Understanding how the experience of childhood trauma (or “adverse events”) is life-shaping has long been important in my field (Psychiatry). For someone who wouldn’t know about what an adverse childhood event is, how influential an event can be down the line, or what to do about it, rea
There's no way I can recommend this book enough. Who do I think should read it? Parents, teachers, medical professionals, social workers, any care giver, and anyone who cares about people and society.

Dr. Burke Harris has taken a subject that is heavily based in medicine and made it accessible and interesting for any layperson. Not only does she explain how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affect our health and biology, but she also gives us an incredibly personal glimpse into the joys and o
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating read. Stressed kids have so much on their plates and no one ever wants to get involved to help them. I know an awful lot of adults who are suffering from stress they had in their childhoods from parent, relatives, classmates, teachers, etc... People, really aren't that nice to each other unless others are watching them. Adults especially, aren't nice to kids if no ones watching. And adults seldom bother to listen, or believe kids, if ask for help. sad state of humanity. It's amazing ...more
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly one of the most important books I have read. Every single person needs to read this book. Adversity = Trauma/Toxic Stress. Educating yourself on the harmful effects of toxic stress from birth to adulthood will change the way you approach your own history, your children and other people. The author does a wonderful job of translating scientific explanations in to layman's terms. The idea of toxic stress causing a myriad of health problems isn't new, but it's finally being recognized as a re ...more
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very important and accessible book that I would recommend to all health care practioners, educators and mental health workers. It helps you to understand the long-lasting effects of childhood adversity on brain functioning, health and behavior. Although we are only at the beginning stages of prevention and effective intervention, it is important information for future treatment and there is a positive and inspirational message. It provides a new lens to view physical and mental health ...more
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredibly amazing and useful read on how trauma affects lives young and old. From her creation of the ACES scale (Adverse Childhood Events) to assist in identifying trauma and its extent in children, to her research and real life work putting her recommendations with children that she treated. This is a book for anyone who has experienced trauma, loves someone who has experienced trauma or works with children who have experienced trauma. I can not recommend this book highly enough.
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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
“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.” 1 likes
“Twenty years of medical research has shown that childhood adversity literally gets under our skin, changing people in ways that can endure in their bodies for decades. It can tip a child’s developmental trajectory and affect physiology. It can trigger chronic inflammation and hormonal changes that can last a lifetime. It can alter the way DNA is read and how cells replicate, and it can dramatically increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes—even Alzheimer’s.” 1 likes
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