It is amazing, ridiculous, and sometimes scary how the brain deals with trauma. It is also ludicrous to believe that your environment and how you are treated are not always believed to strongly affect children. The first story in this book is a very moving one. I thought it interesting and appropriate that that was his first child patient. One of the helpful people in this book that stood out to me was Mama P. Her intuitive knowledge of her “babies” is amazing. To have the strength and patience to bring in and care for a child like Robert is beautiful. I would love to meet and learn from someone like that.
One particular situation that I enjoyed learning about was the first hand count of disassociation. I have read about the symptoms of disassociation. So to read Amber’s account of what happened in her mind during her disassociation was a first for me. What really surprised me was the continued neglect of these children. It just seems like such a foreign concept to me to continually neglect children. Now it appears to be an easy concept, if a child is neglected, he/she needs more attention and care. I do realize that this is often hard in situations such as children in the foster care system, so how do we give these children the right amount of attention with limited resources?
Leon’s story did surprise me a bit. The ignorance of the mother, and the family for that matter, is absurd. Why/how would you leave an infant for most of the day alone in an apartment while you take your other son out on a walk? Wouldn’t you want to give both your children the same opportunities and ability to grow? I do not understand how the family or the husband did nothing while this was going on.
On the other side of how James handled his abuse; it is surprising that such a young boy can show so much courage when he is being so abused and suppressed. After the attempts of murder on his life by his mother, as well as his other abuse that was blamed on him, he still fought for someone to believe him; when realistically, there are many adults let alone children that would have submitted and gave up! He was strong for his siblings and because of this got them out of the harmful situation they were in.
It was hard for me to find something that I read in this book that I disagreed with. I think that these methods are sound and enlightening. He is someone that continues his education, and is open to learning new things from each of his patients. It seems that he does not see a need to punish the kids for the behavior they demonstrate because it does nothing for the child. I do believe in certain modified punishment, and maybe not for a long time. I do believe that these children need to be very nurtured, but when do they cross the line. When is the time you show some kind of discipline? I do not mean physical discipline, but these kids are smart; so knowing right and wrong is important. So, with any kid, what kind of discipline and teaching tactics do you use?
This book really made me aware of the power of memory. History or patterns repeats itself, and if you only have one history, you are going to react that way. Changing patterns really helps these children (as it does everyone). Patterned and repetitive experiences have a huge impact on the brain, providing a safe environment for kids is key in any kind of recovery. For me this was most apparent in Justin’s case. He never had, after 11 months, a healthy safe environment to grow in. Once that kind of consistent environment was provided he thrived. To think that they thought he was a lost cause, brain damaged; and then this man came in, gave him the environment to thrive and he did!
The more you know, the better you can help others. Learning about cases is helpful no matter who you help. He shared his story of how he had to think outside the box in order to help these children, even when some of his superiors showed little concern on how things were. This book also showed me the neuroscience perspective. I have learned about it in class, but never look and applied it to so many real life cases.
I also want to look more into how peers can help children grow. Peter was loved by his adoptive parents, but his time in Russia had obvious negative effects on him. I think it is sometimes overlooked how much children really understand, and how they can help. As humans, we are weary of the unknown, so we isolate it or disregard it. By educating his classmates, he enabled them to help Peter. This bit of information will now stick with me forever.
I saw the neuroscience perspective. Looking at the brain in a “use-dependent” matter makes perfect sense to us now, but this concept was not thought of in the past. Neural systems that are used become more dominant and vice versa. It is easy to see the application when working with traumatized children. I think that is good to know about how the brain functions and works. But there is the “sensitive period”, and if this timing is off, children do not reach their full potential. So then what? To concentrate on the functionality of the brain and body to how it effects behavior is an amazing tool. At the same time it is important to include the environmental and social structure that surrounds any patient.
A main question that was raised for me when reading this book was what is the best way to help a large number of children? Leon was placed in an intervention program that put him with other disturbed children–which research shows that this escalates bad behavior. It is not realistic to treat Americas’ disturbed youth on a one on one basis. Even thought this would be the best scenario, it is not possible. So what else can be done to help intervention programs be successful?
The Davidian compound and story still complexes me. I know this happens all across America, but I cannot understand this way of living. To live in constant fear of one man and his sadistic rules is foreign to me. I suppose if you feel like you cannot get out, you do form learned helplessness. I just think that there has to be some kind of human instinct that tells you to run and get out. So why do people go back to these groups? Why did some of the children in Waco, Texas return to that religion, when they saw what it did to their friends and family?
My inner experience while reading all the chapters is the strength of these children. Of course the belief that children can just bounce back from traumatic experiences is false, but to see what they do go through, it is amazing that they can become functional at all. Disbelief and amazement would be the two main things I felt while reading this book. For example: the stories of the satanic panic were horrible. At the same time, how he deciphered the kids memories was amazing. He by chance fell onto using the heart monitor.