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THE DEEPEST WELL

HEALING THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF CHILDHOOD ADVERSITY

The author’s work has won wide attention through a New Yorker article and a TED talk. This important and compassionate book...

A pediatrician’s battle against the toxic effects of childhood adversity.

In 2007, after opening a community clinic in a low-income neighborhood of San Francisco, Harris soon suspected that an underlying medical issue must be at work in the lives of many of her patients, who often experienced both poor health outcomes (asthma, slow growth, etc.) and the overwhelming adversity of trauma (parental incarcerations, abuse, foster-care placements, etc.) What was the connection? She found her answer several years later in a medical article that changed her medical practice, “The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study,” in which scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente described the strong relationship between childhood trauma and many leading causes of death in adults. In this powerful debut, the author describes the medical research and recalls her own frontline experiences as a pioneer in the treatment of toxic stress as CEO of San Francisco’s Center for Youth Wellness, which offers multidisciplinary care for children suffering from trauma. “The body remembers,” she writes. “Twenty years of medical research has shown that childhood adversity literally gets under our skin, changing people in ways that can endure in their bodies for decades.” Indeed, adversity “can dramatically increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes—even Alzheimer’s.” In a winning conversational style, Harris explains how adversity “harms development and regulation of the immune system throughout someone’s life” and the ways in which doctors now screen for and treat childhood trauma—sleep, mental health, healthy relationships, exercise, nutrition, and meditation. She notes that adverse childhood experiences affect people of all socio-economic levels (they are often disguised out of secrecy and shame), and their harmful effects can be passed on from one generation to another.

The author’s work has won wide attention through a New Yorker article and a TED talk. This important and compassionate book further sounds the alarm over childhood trauma—and what can be done to remedy its effects.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-82870-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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