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The Deepest Well: A new look at trauma

A while back, my good friend - an alternative-ed teacher - told me about a book she read. She talked about how it completely changed the way she looked at her students - kids who seemed to have little or no interest in the traditional education system.

I listened, my curiosity piqued by her excitement and passion. But then I tucked the title away in my mind alongside 100 other I'd want to read.

And that was that.

Then, several weeks ago, I found myself thinking about that book. Looking for information for my personal health and well-being, I found the title at my local library and checked it out. It look me just a week to read and literally changed the trajectory of my life.

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

AUTHOR: Nadine Burke Harris M.D.

PAGES: 272

GENRE: Non-fiction

AUDIENCE: Some of the technical language and sensitive situations discussed in the book gear it toward a more mature audience. High school students from about 10th grade on up could handle this content.

SUMMARY: Nadine Burke Harris M.D. started a clinic in a poverty stricken area of San Francisco. While practicing, she noticed trends in health issues among the kids she served. Curiosity and serendipity combined to drive Burke Harris to look deeply into the way that childhood adversity affects health. And what she found was astounding.

THIS BOOK MADE ME GEEK OUT BECAUSE... it was something I'd never heard before. The amount and frequency of significant stress in a child's life dramatically impacts her health, not only at the time of the stress, but for decades afterward. A vast array of symptoms attributed to ADHD and other behavioral issues can (mostly) be traced back to childhood trauma and treated not with medication but with a routine that includes sleep, healthy food, exercise, and counseling.

Aside from the revolutionary information Burke Harris presents, I loved her familiar, girlfriend-to-girlfriend style of writing. She breaks ultra-complex ideas into digestible bits, using analogy and metaphor to simplify and communicate effectively. Her passion for the topic comes across on the page, and her deep desire to galvanize others around this new information is clear.

Burke Harris introduces ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) into the vernacular, provides a simple test for self-diagnosis, and lays out an accessible, albeit broad, plan of action for healing. Despite the daunting effects of childhood trauma, Burke Harris remains positive in her outlook for treatment, sharing her hope about the future of medical care for children.

YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK are a teacher of any child, a doctor, a parent, a community activist, or a person in a position of power to make lasting social change.

For me, this book spurred me on to deal with some of my own ACEs (which I didn't know existed until now), and seek out a better way of caring for my whole self: body and soul.

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