STRONG AT THE BROKEN PLACES: Overcoming the Trauma of Childhood Abuse by Linda T. Sanford

STRONG AT THE BROKEN PLACES: Overcoming the Trauma of Childhood Abuse

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Psychotherapist Sanford (Silent Children, 1980) eloquently addresses the question being asked by many researchers: Why do some abused children emerge as productive, even happy, adults, while others are consigned to continue their lives in misery? With a title borrowed from Hemingway, Sanford draws from her own practice, from lengthy interviews, and from literature to state first that there are many healthy survivors of unhappy childhoods--that not all become abusers themselves. She goes on to examine the ways in which survivors defend themselves both during the period of abuse and later. Mental games, what Sanford calls ""lies of the mind""--like fantasizing and compartmentalizing feelings and experiences--are prevalent. So is the ""sympathetic witness,"" the teacher, aunt, neighbor, employer who offers the child another view of himself (as lovable and worthwhile) and of the world. Having siblings to protect can be important. These defenses may serve only to cover over the emotional wounds, but there is a drive to health among survivors that enables them eventually to explore and reconcile the feelings that have shaped their lives. Religion is also often an important component of the healing process. Sanford's re-creation of the child's point of view is particularly vivid--and emphasizes how resilient and brave some children can be in creating a safe place for themselves.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1990
Publisher: Random House