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

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  1,191 ratings  ·  161 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
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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
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
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
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: race, nonfiction
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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!
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
Mar 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Gave me food for thought. In the time of Black Lives Matter, police brutality, the age of of President Obama, etc. this seemed like a really good read and a compliment to other texts that I've read. Initially I had never heard of this book or author but I spotted an except on Twitter and was intrigued by the title and the concept.
Dr. De Gruy Leary writes about the effects of slavery: how it has affected the lives of black Americans, even today. Sure, people will say that slavery is over, that a
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
Dr. Joy Leary's argument is interesting and she certainly brings proof to back her argument that the enslavement of Africans and the generations of oppression since that time, has contributed to certain assumptions and self-fulfilling prophecies that have lead to an internalization of self-hatred and a colonized mindset a la Fanon. Her experiences in South Africa definitely helped her compare the American experience to the South African, which helped her highlight evidence for her argument. Her ...more
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stop whatever you are doing and read this book immediately. Attempts at collective forgetting are making racism in this country worse. I never even learned all the facts to begin with, especially that more Africans died EN ROUTE on the middle passage than Jews died in the holocaust. Think Hitler was bad? American slavery was hands down worse. What is really important to realize is that our entire economic system was founded on slavery, and it didn't end in 1863. Black codes, Jim Crow (separate b ...more
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
A friend recommended this book after I casually commented on the difference between the African American mothers and the Hispanic mothers I see on the #21 -- a gross cultural generalization, of course. I said that the African American mothers reacted to their children's natural attempts to explore the bus with anger, while the Hispanic mothers, if they chastised their children at all, did so with patience and loving tolerance. My friend promised me this book would explain the reason for the Afri ...more
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was an easy read. Dr. DeGruy did a good job summarizing the impact slavery still has on African American communities.

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is a thought provoking book that will peek one's interest in the various disparities African Americans face in our society, and how most suffer from the conditioning/brainwashing that was imposed on slaves and still present (in more decisive and less evasive ways).

I would recommend this book to all adults and mature teen readers looking for a bri
Rosa Sealy
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a necessary book. So much of our (black) culture, beliefs, and habits are passed down from conditioning of slavery.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of speculation, generalization and personal beliefs presented as facts. There's also a bit of superfluous examples such as black kids have to be quite and stay close to their parents in a bank but white kids get to run around and explore.

I would have given this book a higher rating if it had more facts, statistics, and scientific research.
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“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.” 13 likes
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