Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing” as Want to Read:
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,572 ratings  ·  201 reviews
While African Americans managed to emerge from chattel slavery and the oppressive decades that followed with great strength and resiliency, they did not emerge unscathed. Slavery produced centuries of physical, psychological and spiritual injury. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing lays the groundwork for understanding how the pas ...more
Hardcover, 235 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Uptone Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,572 ratings  ·  201 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it
A frustrating, thought-provoking and important book. Every adult American should read it, for it offers much substance in spite of its flaws.

It's amazing to me, looking on Amazon, how divisive this book is. Dr. De Gruy Leary seems a gentle person who writes with a simple, clear, style. Much of her historical information is illuminating, and her main argument - that, due to their history of slavery, African-Americans perforce had to learn methods of coping that have been handed down through the g
Sleepless Dreamer
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
I refuse to finish 2020 so behind on reviews. And yet, there are like 6 different papers I have to read now so this will be short.

The idea of this book is fascinating. I wish the execution was better but I'm still excited by the idea of it. DeGruy coins Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. It is as it sounds- Black people are still impacted by the trauma of slavery. She argues that much of Black behavior nowadays stems from habits picked up during slavery. In modern times, these habits are what holds
Tim Haslett
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Toni, Nimmy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 14, 2014 added it
I loved this book - from time to time I need to reread PTSS - it shows me were all my wounded places are, how they got there, and then it reminds me to take time out to heal.
Elizabeth Rhea
An eye-opening, mind-blowing look at race relations in American society-- from a perspective grounded in history, psychology, and sociology.

I heard Dr. Joy speaking on the radio for about five minutes and knew that I had to experience as much of her insight as possible. I immediately bought tickets to hear her speak live (search YouTube for Dr. Joy DeGruy, she is a fantastic presenter) and ordered this book. As a white person who has recently found herself more and more a part of predominantly
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is required reading for everyone. Dr. DeGruy's voice is powerful. She educates and articulates in a manner of "duh, this is common sense people" and I absolutely loved it b/c most of what Dr. DeGruy discusses as the symptoms of PTSS is common sense. There's so much to digest. This book was tabbed up from left to right. For sure study material & I plan on purchasing the study guide. This was very inspirational and it's time to heal our community. Y'all please pick this book up. ...more
Michael Perkins
This was a pretty fast read for me, largely because I was already familiar with most of what was in the book, as a result of a lot of study of American history and reading various books on the Black experience.

One GR reviewer suggested that this book would be perfect to assign as a companion volume for high school U. S. history classes. I agree. It covers so much of what they should know.
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, race
I heard one of DeGruy's talks on YouTube and thought the theory sounded interesting. This is a very approachable book and super readable. I would guess it is appropriate for high school level race classes, not super detailed or in depth, but she explains everything very well and gives lots of examples.

Ultimately her theory is that the patterns of behavior and some aspects of black culture were created out of the response to slavery and have served to continually reinforce racism and inequality i
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone, everyone
Recommended to Amber by: Dr. Patricia Dixon
"Did you think that we would forget you? I am from Lesotho, Lesotho is my home. If I leave Lesotho, Lesotho is still my home. If I leave Lesotho for 50 years, Lesotho is still my home. You are African, 300 years from home. We mourned Martin and Malcolm with you, we are so proud of you, we just wondered when you were coming home." --Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Joy DeGruy

I was profoundly touched and moved by this book. It's an insightful read on the history of Africans in America and the way
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
When I first started working for the Beacon at Roosevelt, I asked the wise person who had my current job then why there were so many African American students in special education classes. "Slavery," she answered. Years later when Brandon told me about this book and I read it I finally understood more of what she meant. Joy Degrury Leary explains the connections between the horrific ordeals of slavery, slaves' adaptations to survive, and current issues. While this is a very intense story and not ...more
We have some unpacking to do. We have been carrying around unnecessary traumatic baggage for over 400 years, and it is time to let it go. Can we do it alone? No, of course not; however, we can start by healing ourselves and our communities, and remembering who we are. Dr. DeGruy explains our generational trauma and offers a few suggestions for getting started on our healing journey.

The chapter titled "Healing" is what made me lower my rating, as parts of it feel a little preachy/shamey, and lean
Sean Liburd
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Are you ready to understand the Psychological trauma created by 400 years of slavery? If you answered yes then Dr Leary’s Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome – America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing is a must read. This book is an analytical journey of the horrifying effects of chattel slavery, lynching, Jim Crow laws, racism and all the other oppressive methods used against African-Americans for decades upon their psyche. Dr. Leary methodically lay’s out of how the lifestyles of African Amer ...more
This was a long read, largely due to the emotional weight of the content, but also (for me) the academic tone of the writing was an additional slow ride for me. But overall, there were a lot of valuable stories, examples, and food for discussion. It really helped me gain a further understanding of how generational trauma has seeped into modern Black culture and behavior.

Some parts of the book felt a little too preachy for me, but overall it was full of lessons I will be carrying with me for the
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a decent read. Had many parts that were moving as well. It is interesting how she incorporates a 6 week trip to Southern Africa & what she learned about the more family oriented culture does for the people who live in them, even when they have little material possessions. It's a decent read. It initially starting off about what it means to be black in the U.S. & how history has been distorted. Then jumps into the numerous ways black people have been dehumanized physically, abstractly vi ...more
Vannessa Anderson
…Somewhere along the way, African American children have become so emotionally fragile that they cannot often withstand the implications associated with a simple gaze.

…I am not who I think I am, and I am not who you think I am. I am who I think that you think I am.

We rarely look to our history to understand how African Americans adapted their behavior over centuries in order to survive the stifling efforts of chattel slavery, effects which are evident today.

Recent in the field of epigenetics
Thomas DeWolf
Dec 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book for anyone who wants to understand the ongoing impact from historic enslavement in the United States and what is necessary for healing. My full review is at my blog: ...more
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book! Very enlightening!
Very intense book. I'm really interested in the topic of the intergenerational transmission of trauma, and appreciated Dr. Leary's contribution. Even though I knew most facts in this book, the way Dr. Leary put them in context was very illuminating, and her personal anecdotes and stories, while not "data" as such, also provided some very clear pictures of what she was talking about. I don't have quick answers right now as to whether I agree with many things she said, but I'll be mulling over the ...more
Taylor Ellwood
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academia
If you want to understand the legacy of slavery in the U.S. then read this book. It will open your eyes to the impact that slavery continues to have on all of us. While the author focuses mostly on the effect slavery has had on people of color, she also explains the effect it has had on White people. What this book illustrates is how even today the institution of racism is in effect, and shows how the trauma of slavery has created a genetic impact that is reinforced by the racism that stills exi ...more
Marguerite Pierce
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a tremendous read. There were multiple parts in which I closed my eyes, let out a deep sigh and mumbled a prayer as there was no other way to deal with the subject matter presented throughout some of the chapters. Leary's arguments are well thought out and clearly stated. I commend her for her research and am thankful for the sharing of her experiences and of those close to her. I was familar with most of the subject matter within the book, but Leafy definitely puts it into a perspective ...more
Apr 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book was so smartly written in that it tackled one of the most brutal, barbaric, devastating and sensitive issues in American history (& sought to explain why in fact it's not yet truly "history"), not only from a personal or emotional platform, but more importantly it forces you to examine the facts and rationalize. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome appealed to the reader on an intellectual level which was simply undeniable. ...more
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
If children of individuals with high ACEs scores are influenced by parental trauma, it stands to reason that research on historical trauma would include implications of slavery.

What keeps coming back to me is "knowing your worth and value". Those two factors set the tone for how we treat ourselves and one another. More importantly it sets the tone for how we allow others to treat us. What permission have you given others as far as your self-worth is concerned?
Debora Smith
This is a fantastic book explaining the oppression of African Americans from slavery days to the present. Dr. Leary identifies the beliefs and behaviors that have embedded themselves into the psyche of the African American community and reveals the roots of such. She also offers ways of healing. It is the most comprehensive books on this topic that I have read.
Melissa Davis
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A non-fiction study on the lasting effects of trauma from generation to generation. If you are someone who has ever said "I never owned slaves!" or think racism doesn't exist today, or that Americans of African descent are not still impacted today by the history of slavery in our country - this book will be enlightening and eye-opening for you. Dr. DeGruy is a gentle, kind teacher and you will not be sorry to begin your journey into understanding our difficult history and how it still hurts peop ...more
Kristin Wooten-Oby
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book to try and help better understand myself, my friends, my family, and my society... This is a great book and taught me about how history that happened 400 years ago carried over into how I see myself and the way I understand my place in the world. I was introduced to this book by a graduate professor at an ABPsy conference at Howard University in 2014.
Laura Mcculloch
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I highly recommend this book. It helped me to understand some potential ways that slavery of Africans in the United States affected them and continues to affect people descended from slaves as well as the whole country. No matter your race, I recommend reading this engaging and thought provoking book!
Aug 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What an excellent book! Dr. Joy DeGruy's PTSS is a 10 out of 10 for me, and it's definitely a book I will reread in the future. ...more
Mary Wagner
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this amazing, emotional and trans-formative look at the past 400 years of history, psychological and societal toll of chattel slavery on African Americans --- never related in any history class. I am blown away by the information shared and manner in which Joy DeGruy writes. It was effortless except for my emotional tears during most of the reading...
Feb 06, 2013 rated it liked it
A few years ago, I had the privilege of being at one of Dr. DeGruy's presentations at my university, and I was blown away. What she had to say was incredibly powerful and genuine, and she was funny, kind, and real.

Several years later, my brother bought her book for me. Let me start by saying that what Dr. DeGruy writes in this book is necessary and absolutely must be heard and known and circulated widely. Take, for instance, this passage:

"I have often heard European Americans irately say, 'You
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
"If we are to progress in any meaningful way we need to tell the truth about our history and about ourselves because it is always the "secrets" that make us sick!." This is my favorite quote from the book. In addition, I think this quote describes the intention of the book, wich is to awaken us about the legacy of slavery on African American.
The book is quiet easy to read. You could easily start reading it from the end or the middle, because the chapters don't follow a storyline. It is a mixture
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism
  • The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors
  • PowerNomics : The National Plan to Empower Black America
  • My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of Our Bodies and Hearts
  • The Mis-Education of the Negro
  • Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit
  • The Marathon Don't Stop: The Life and Times of Nipsey Hussle
  • Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools
  • Talkin and Testifyin: The Language of Black America (Revised)
  • The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help you Deserve
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
  • The Cactus League
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
  • Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty
  • The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
  • A Black Women's History of the United States
  • Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America
See similar books…

Related Articles

The last five years of world history have been nothing if not...eventful. When living in interesting times, there's nothing better for...
94 likes · 18 comments
“Although slavery has long been a part of human history, American chattel slavery represents a case of human trauma incomparable in scope, duration and consequence to any other incidence of human enslavement.” 14 likes
More quotes…