“This is a treasure chest of diverse perspectives on trauma. We are treated to a satisfying mix of leading evolutionary thinkers, stellar neurobiological researchers and distinguished Jungian and other psychotherapists, all offering rich and in-depth insights on a subject that requires inter-disciplinary joined-up thinking. Most importantly, the interview style works, and Sieff’s sensitive question-posing and surefooted comments and editing make the reading easy, vibrant and always stimulating.”
Graham Music is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Tavistock and Portman Clinics in London UK, and author of Nurturing Natures (2010) and The Good Life (2014).
“Insightful and thought provoking: Sieff opens our eyes to a deeper understanding of how the brain, mind, and body can heal following emotional trauma. Interviews with pioneering psychotherapists, theorists, neurobiologists, and evolutionary researchers help us bridge the gap between clinical practice, theory, and research. A must read for all clinicians and researchers seeking insight into the workings of the mind following psychological trauma, as well as for lay-readers who seek to understand their own trauma and how it might be healed.”
Ruth A Lanius, MD, PhD, is the Harris Woodman Chair and Professor of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario, and author of The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease (2010) and Healing the Traumatised Self (2012)
“In my work with business leaders and management teams, as well as in my own life, I am continually reminded of the importance of health. Sieff makes accessible the latest, fascinating thinking about how psychological health is compromised by unaddressed trauma, and how that can be healed. I highly recommend ‘Understanding and Healing Emotional Trauma’ to all those seeking a deeper, yet practical and readable understanding of the process of healing trauma to create emotional well-being – whether for their work, or for their personal lives.”
Michael Rennie is the global leader of the Organisation, People and Leadership Practice at McKinsey & Company Management Consultants.
“This compelling collection of interviews with outstanding scholars and therapists of our day offers a creative and comprehensive understanding of trauma and its effects. Sieff’s book reveals her unique ability to distil the essence of the ideas of each of her subjects into a series of succinct but profound questions. She has shaped their replies into a book in which complex ideas concerning trauma are presented in an accessible conceptual frame. As such it will be of interest to many and a significant new resource for those who seek to integrate the best of the new thinking concerning trauma into their clinical practice.”
Margaret Wilkinson is a Jungian training analyst and author of Coming into Mind (2006) and Changing Minds in Therapy (2010).
Reviews in Professional Journals
(These are extracts – for full reviews click on link)
International Journal of Psychotherapy – Anny Reyes
“Daniela F. Sieff creates a series of conversations with experts in the field of trauma, providing a range of ideas that elucidate the effects of trauma on the human experience. As you read the book you feel a connection not only with Sieff but with the experts she interviewed. Their approaches to describing the concepts of emotional trauma are insightful and compelling, reminding the readers that the human experience with trauma is a natural process that occurs in each and every one of us.
….Sieff emphasizes the importance of exploring the different facets of emotional trauma because its roots are not merely a nature or nurture phenomena but a complex combination of both. The book creates a common ground where science and research meets compassion and care. Whether you are an expert in the topic of trauma or a parent seeking information on parenting, this book provides essential information that will expand your scientific and emotional understanding on the subject.’
Journal of Analytical Psychology – Warren Colman
The most striking feature of this book is not its content – excellent though that is – but its unusual format. Ostensibly, it is a series of interviews with psychotherapists and evolutionary anthropologists on the origins and impact of trauma. However, each chapter has been carefully crafted and constructed through many drafts and back-and-forth interchanges with the interview subjects, combined with the author’s own research. The result combines the accessible informality of the interview format with the depth and complexity of written work. There is a genuine sense of dialogue here that is refreshing and illuminating.
The scope of the book and its interviewees reflects Daniela Sieff’s unusual background and interests. Having trained in evolutionary anthropology and spent several years living amongst traditional peoples in Tanzania, she came to the world of psychotherapy through the need to make sense of her own trauma. The fact that she is not a therapist herself enables her to retain the perspective of those that seek help rather than those who provide it, while her academic background provides an intellectual rigour that is independent of professional agendas. In fact, the book is not primarily aimed at a professional audience of researchers and/or therapists but seeks to make their insights available to a wider public needing to make sense of their own trauma. It is a rare achievement to produce a book that can satisfy both kinds of audience.
Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy – Roz Carroll
The fact that author Daniela Sieff is not a psychotherapist, though she is an experienced client, proves a great strength of the book because her enquiry is powerfully shaped by the client position.
…This book has the potential to engage and satisfy many different kinds of readers from therapy trainees to those who already know the trauma field quite well. But I was especially struck by how it might appeal to those who are not trained health professionals, who desperately want answers to so many questions about the nature of their trauma and the lengthy process of healing….Despite the uniqueness of every individual’s experience and the range of traumas experienced, many readers will recognise their own story in this book.
Journal of Child & Adolescent Mental Health – Kristen M Talbot
The interview style of this book creates a stimulating yet accessible read of otherwise complex and profound ideas and concepts. Sieff’s well-informed comments and insightful questioning stimulates a rich conversation with the contributors, and often pre-empts the reader’s own thoughts….
This book is recommended for anyone looking to gain an interdisciplinary understanding of emotional trauma; for mental health professionals working with children and adults looking to develop a deeper, more embodied, understanding of emotional trauma and its sequelae; for physical therapists and medical doctors eager to expand their perspective on the etiology of physical illness and dysfunction; and for individuals interested in understanding their own “trauma-worlds” be it the consequence of abuse or neglect, or repressed but embodied “micro” traumas sustained in their early development.
Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis – Tasmin Cottis
This is an unusual book in its scope and form. It is comprised of interviews, or extended conversations, between the author and ten people whose longterm work has been concerned with trauma: its roots, causes, psychological and physical manifestations, and treatment. … However, the book does more than provide valuable exposition from significant pioneers in their respective specialist fields. The author brings herself to the book too. At many points, her questions and expressed thoughts take the conversations further and deeper, and we have a sense of minds meeting to generate new ideas.
As interviewer, Sieff is a subtle and discreet weaver, drawing together the strands of her subjects’ ideas. By the end of the book, the reader has the sense of how distinct professional disciplines in the field of trauma, and its healing through therapy, have many connecting threads. This demonstration of connectivity and integration is another way in which the book’s content is reflected in its form.
Alcohol and Alchoholism – Rhiannon Jehu
“Understanding and Healing Emotional Trauma drew me through the chapters leaving me asking questions and wanting to read on…As a person working through my trauma this book helped me to see areas I can work on and also inspired me towards reading further, and reading about some of the latest research in the new field of evolutionary psychology was exciting.”
GoodTherapy.org – Lisa Danylchuk
“In her book Understanding and Healing Emotional Trauma: Conversations with Pioneering Clinicians and Researchers, Daniela Sieff gives us an opportunity to get into the minds and hearts of leading practitioners and researchers in fields related to trauma. Her insightful questions illicit a depth of knowledge and reflection rare in traditional textbooks, offering the reader journeys into the evolving field of trauma treatment.”
Journal of Social Work Practice – Martin Smith
I enjoyed this book and found it rich, varied, compelling and thought-provoking. At several times since reading it I haev thought of it in relation ot work I have been engaged in or colleagues I know. Some aspects of it have stayed with me, like the best and most memorable converations. The range of perspectives discussed adds to the resonance.
APC Forum – Chaplain Keith Goheen
Biological anthropologist Daniela Sieff PhD takes the reader behind the personal stories of trauma and into the remarkable, human capacity to adapt and thrive. The book’s thesis rests on Sieff’s belief that the healing of trauma’s wounds is enhanced by a comprehensive and nuanced appreciation for its multidimensional nature. Through a collection of carefully constructed, in-depth interviews with recognized experts, Sieff explores trauma’s psychological, neurobiological and evolutionary roots, building a case for a broad, synergistic and evidence-based understanding of trauma’s causes and functions.
Theapy Today – Chris Rose
The final section on evolution brings refreshing new material to challenge our assumptions about attachment and appropriate maternal behaviour…I would recommend this book on the basis of this section alone, but there are many other nuggets concealed within – a book not to be taken in one sitting but offering rich pickings.
‘I struggled with PTSD for much of my adult life …’ by Elsie Rose (Amazon USA)
I struggled with PTSD for much of my adult life, as the result of developmental trauma, my mother having the severe personality disorder of borderline personality disorder, and my father, a solider in the war, also having PTSD. Much of my difficulty was not understanding how, why and what had happened to me – that I was afraid of my own body, which had at one time, tried to protect, me, and was often keeping me in a state of re-victimization, leading me to be repeatedly emotionally, spiritually, and financially abused. I had read widely, but for some reason did not get all the pieces I needed to get the full picture of the scope of PTSD.
Dr. Sieff’s book has changed my life, so significantly, by putting together the pieces of how, why and what had happened to me. I could see so clearly, when all of the information was put together in a format that anyone can understand, my own story and how I had developed the survivor strategies I had developed. Also, I have ready widely in the field of trauma and can attest to helpful and healing work of each of the contributing researchers/clinicians. Yet, Dr. Sieff has put the book together in such a readable, deep, and informative manner. Most definitely worthy of a Pulitizer in the field of trauma.
‘Fascinating, great read and packed with stimulating ideas’ by GM (Amazon UK)
This book beautifully brings together perspectives from psychotherapy, trauma work and neurobiology, and the insights of a truly all-star cast of interviewees come alive in the interview process. This is easy to read and rammed full of in-depth understandings and exciting findings, yet very easy to read, and as a bonus gives us readers intimate personal contact with many world-leaders in these fields. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it
‘An illuminating, deeply insightful book on the subject of emotional trauma’ by Nick (Amazon UK)
I am a huge fan of this book. I had to read it slowly – this really isn’t the kind of book to rush – as practically every page is popping with visceral, connected insight into the phenomenon of emotional trauma.
The range of voices that circle the subject are diverse and encompassing and all ultimately feed into the same point of deeply insightful understanding.
As a non-scientist I was particularly moved by the neuroscience chapters (the Allan Schore chapter is a real show-stopper!), which give a scientific perspective on an otherwise intangible, subjective and felt experience.
Other highlights for me were Don Kalsched’s chapter on the Protector/Persecutor, or the “misguided friend” as a friend of mine sometimes calls him, and Bruce Lloyd’s compassionate tough-love chapter on what it really means to have suffered trauma and how hard it is to recover from such experience.
In summary, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. For anyone seeking to understand their own trauma this book is essential.
‘An exceptionally fine book’ by Michael Reiss (Amazon UK)
This is an exceptionally fine book. Books that consist of interviews can lack structure. Here Daniela Sieff, who is rightly credited as second author for each chapter, has done a tremendous job. Divided into three sections – ‘Psychodynamic perspectives’,
‘Neurobiological perspectives’ and ‘Evolutionary perspectives’ – each chapter is packed with insight. I found several of the chapters very moving. The book is unique in the way it brings together these three perspectives through the life’s work of so many outstanding contributors. It should be widely read.
‘Insightful and inspiring — a landmark perspective on the topic of trauma!’ by Barbara Hort (Amazon USA)
The cognitive scientist Emerson Pugh once observed, “If the mind were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.” Thus, it is a rare book that can tackle an issue as crucial and complex as trauma, and derive from its confounding morass a perspective as clearly delineated and easily accessible as the one that Sieff articulates, based on her insightful interviews with a hugely diverse group of experts in the field of trauma. If you are a person who has experienced trauma, or if you are a person who works to heal traumatized people, then this book is mandatory reading for you. If, as Jung declared, our wounds will lead us to our cures, then it follows that our deepest wounds will lead to our deepest healing. In that case, our most profound redemption of our wholeness will depend upon our ability to comprehend our traumatic wounding. A key portal to that comprehension lies within the pages of Sieff’s remarkable book.
‘Daniela Sieff’s distillation of trauma research helped me to accept my humanity’ by Sherry Wheaton (Amazon USA)
Daniela has done a great service for those suffering the effects of trauma. Reading the research of Schore is so important, but a complicated time commitment. Daniela has made his work and the work of many other important clinicians and researchers accessible to everyone, clinician and patient alike. She has done the intricate homework of distilling a vast amount of information and making it easily digestible. For me, the addition of the environmental anthropologic literature was a missing piece that I had intuited but to which I had no exposure. I am personally and professionally appreciative for this piece. It offers a level of compassion that may act as an antidote to the shame carried by every trauma survivor. Thank you Daniela.
‘The Latest and the Best in the Synthesis of Trauma Research for Survivors and Healers’ by Ashok Bedi (Amazon USA)
Daniela F. Sieff is a highly respected colleague, whose work I have admired for her devotion, persistence and attention to details. I could not put this book down on a train ride for a few hours and was captivated by its depth and breadth in untangling the mystery of Trauma and treatment of the misery it visits on victims. The book has synthesized Psychodynamic, Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology perspectives in decoding the understanding and healing of Trauma from the leading clinicians, researchers and scholars in Trauma research. Careful and detailed interviews with these leading experts in easy to understand language makes the most intricate research accessible to readers across the spectrum from a survivor, family members and experts alike. It feels that the reader is privileged to have a fireside chat with the leading experts in the Trauma research asking them all the questions I always wanted to ask them!
Her interviews with the experts in Jungian and Psychoanalytic psychotherapy lays out the most innovative analytical understanding of trauma. Don Kalsched’s work on soul’s protector/persecutor system, J. Bruce Lloyd’s elaboration on the dissociation between trauma victims’ inner and outer world and ways to live out of the inner authentic self, Tina Stromsted’s emphasis on healing trauma via embodiment of the spirit via authentic movement, voice-work, yoga and mask therapy and Marion Woodman’s work with the Death Mother energy and the survivors Possum Freeze response and countering it with core connection with the core-soul, empowers the survivors and healers with the latest paradigms in psychodynamic treatment.
Ms. Sieff’s synthesis of the latest Neuroscience understanding of Trauma research in her interviews with the leading Neuroscience icons is particularly stimulating in that it explains the complex matrix in a very easy to understand yet scholarly details. Ellert R.S. Nijenhuis focuses on integration between the Apparently Normal Parts (ANP) of the survivor with the traumatized Emotional Parts (EP) of the personality, Allan N. Schore’s masterful emphasis on integrating the Right Brain with the Left Brain via restructuring right brain neural networks with an empathic therapist with focus on non-verbal, implicit connection which helps the patient gradually tolerate and integrate painful, dissociated trauma experiences and Daniel J. Siegel’s groundbreaking work on helping the trauma survivor break out of the prison of implicit memory to form a compassionate and secure attachment to ourselves via compassion and mindfulness.
The Evolutionary perspective is particularly relevant for our turbulent times as vast number of our global brothers and sisters are living in apocalyptic, traumtogenic, hunter environments with civil wars, child soldiers, group rapes, genocide and other crimes against humanity which have become a norm rather than anomalies. James S. Chisholm alerts us to the adaptive value of insecure attachment in harsh and unsafe environments, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy’s explanation of the mothering in in scarcity and need to abandon some infants to protect those that have a best chance to survive and its evolutionary impact on the abandonment fears of infants and finally Randolph M. Nesse’s exploration of the emotional evolution and the adaptive value of depression, anxiety, panic and passivity to elude predators to survive helps us depathologize these conditions with greater empathy for the evolutionary vestiges of harsher times in our human history which regrettably is repeating itself in midst of the most advanced era of our civilization.
This book is a labor of love and a most up to date synthesis of the most relevant research on trauma and its treatment. I recommend it highly to survivors and healers.
Ashok Bedi, M.D., DPM RCPS (England) Member of the Royal College of Psychiatry (UK) Distinguished Life Fellow- American Psychiatric Association, Faculty Member: C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago, Clinical Professor in Psychaitry at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee
Psychiatrist and a Jungian Psychoanalyst
‘Insight, clarity, and wisdom – this is a book that fulfills its title’ by Carol A. Jacobs, LCSW (Amazon USA)
With a wide breadth of insight, clarity, and wisdom, “Understanding and Healing Emotional Trauma” is a book that fulfills its title. Providing a deep understanding of the world of trauma, the author, Dr. Sieff, has formulated both questions and an environment that lead the interviewed clinicians and researchers to share their expertise with a depth and compassion that speaks to both professionals and those suffering from trauma. Her visioning has brought together the psychodynamic, neurobiological and evolutionary understanding of trauma so that we have a cohesive reading that can stimulate a more integrated movement toward authentic and meaningful lives.
‘Affirmation, enlightenment and scaffolding’ by Lou Kay (Amazon UK)
I just want to say how utterly blessed I feel to be in the possession of this wonderful book, “Understanding and Healing Emotional Trauma”. It has become a good friend of mine. I’m a (sesame) drama therapist who works in eating disorders and addictions. Daniela writes wonderfully and seems to be able to distil some complex ideas and theories so brilliantly, which makes reading them a pleasurable, easy and enriching task. It really is a gift of affirmation, enlighten and scaffolding in what is often a painful world we work in.
‘Precious insights into the mind’ by Pipistrel (Amazon UK)
This outstanding book – eight years in the making – brings together interviews conducted by Dr Daniela Sieff with ten leading practitioners and researchers in the field of emotional trauma. The book is in three parts: four psychodynamic therapists are interviewed in the first part, three with a neurobiological approach in the second, and three evolutionary psychologists contribute to the third. Their different but overlapping perspectives illuminate each other and make for a rounded and complete overview. Dr Sieff is a biological anthropologist, with her own experience of trauma and healing, and her pertinent questions and comments shape the discussions and often anticipate the reader’s own thoughts.
The book is very readable and addresses issues which to a greater or lesser degree arise in every human life. Few readers will fail to find ideas that can help them to understand themselves, and the positive tone will aid many in their healing journey. The evolutionary point of view is particularly novel and helpful, emphasizing the fact that negative as well as positive emotions developed because of their survival value for our ancestors over thousands of generations in biological and social environments that presented a great variety of challenges. Although we are averse to fear and loss, they are a normal part of living and need to be accepted.
Dr Sieff’s remarkable book should please a very wide readership, and the only regret is that it has been priced so high. Routledge should be bold and quickly bring out a larger and more affordable second impression.
‘I strongly recommend this book to clinicians of all the helping disciplines’ by A Swanepoel (Amazon UK)
As a practicing Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, I strongly recommend this book to clinicians of all the helping disciplines. The author interviewed eminent thinkers in a variety of disciplines (analysts, neuroscientists and evolutionary thinkers) and digested their views to make them understandable to a wide audience.
A key message is that the suffering created by emotional trauma can be most fruitfully understood when we bring several perspectives to bear on the issue – in particular such a layered understanding helps to decrease shame and self-blame, thus enabling healing to become possible.
This book clearly illustrates that the disease model of psychopathology is misplaced and that what is currently regarded as “abnormal” can often be more accurately understood as a sane response to an insane environment.
‘THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! I WANT TO SEND A COPY TO EACH …’ by Alana Ruben Free (Amazon USA)
THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! I WANT TO SEND A COPY TO EACH FRIEND AND MOTHER THAT I KNOW AND SAY, “READ THIS BOOK!” It has one of a kind brilliant interviews with a diverse group of leaders breaking ground on emotional healing. If you are a mother and do not own at least one book by Marion Woodman and Dr. Daniel Siegel, the essays in this book are an excellent summary and introduction to their groundbreaking understanding of the mother-child bond and why secure attachment between caregiver and child is essential to all future relationships. Cutting edge Neuroscience meets Jung meets Evolutionary perspectives.
‘Wide-ranging, scientifically robust and eminently readable’ by zoedm (Amazon UK)
With the publication of this book, Daniela Sieff has achieved a difficult feat – to explain the much-talked-about subject of trauma in a way that will appeal to both professionals and lay people alike, as it is both scientifically robust, and eminently readable. The book is composed of a series of interviews between Daniela and experts that she has chosen to explain their understanding of trauma from three different perspectives – that of psychodynamic psychotherapists, neurobiologists and anthropologists – and her questions encourage the clinicians to explain often complex concepts in a clear and accessible way. I whole-heartedly recommend this wide-ranging book to anyone who wants to understand trauma, its evolutionary roots, the effect it has on us, and how we can heal.
‘This is a valuable book on my bookshelf and one I will be referring to regularly’ by Kate (Amazon UK)
I found this book immensely helpful. Seiff intelligently guides us through the impacts of trauma in a series of discussions with experts in different fields related to mental health. It is a painful topic but one that impacts upon us all- one way or another. The book enriched my humanity by offering a variety of perspectives; some of which were new to me.
Because it is a series of discussions with experts in different fields it is not necessary to read it in chronological order-I started at the end because I am particularly interested in Evolutionary biology.Seiff has laid out the book in clear bite sized pieces and this enables the reader to prioritise.
I have experienced PTSD and I found comfort in this intelligent uncompromising book. For those who may be supporting someone who is experiencing, or has experienced, trauma the book offers a deeper understanding and introduces a variety of ways by which the subject can be viewed and healing can be undertaken.
Since Alice Miller introduced the notion of the inner child I have not read a book that offered as much support and intelligent comfort. Like Miller, but using a different methodology and style, Seiff offers a deeper understanding of the human condition from early life and childhood. It is pertinent to all of us-not just to professionals in mental health.
This is a valuable book on my bookshelf and one I will be referring to regularly
‘An invaluable book!’ by Caryn Aman (Amazon USA)
Dr. Daniela Sieff has researched and written an invaluable book on the topic of trauma, how to understand it and heal from it. I am grateful to her for her steadfastness and attention to detail in all its myriad aspects. It is a treasure chest of information, easy to read and understand, while also a great contribution to clinicians and lay persons alike. I shall refer to it again and again. Thank you, Daniela, for this gift, to the field of emotional trauma.
‘I truly enjoyed this book because emotional trauma has biological’ by Mary Ryan Thorup (Amazon USA)
I truly enjoyed this book because emotional trauma has biological, evolutionary, and psychological components that are difficult to tease apart and then put back together again.
Dr. Sieff does an outstanding job of truly listening and deciphering, filtering a very complex idea. She’s pulled together some of the top researchers in very diverse fields, and handles it with a lucidity and alacrity that is rare. I especially enjoyed her ability to bring together such disparate researchers. I’ve learned a lot, and I await her next book. I especially enjoyed her easy writing style. What a great writer. I read it in a night, and now want the next book!
‘Excellent in every way. The best I have read on trauma.’ by Réa Kironnon (Amazon USA)
I used this book as a foundational piece for a doctoral dissertation on trauma. This book opened up the path to my research and study on healing emotional trauma. I referred to it many, many times. I quoted the author several times in my paper. The chapter summaries were excellent and the interviews were detailed, insightful, thorough, and very helpful to me. I thank Dr. Sieff for this excellent book. It expanded my world, my brain, my knowledge, and my consciousness. I am in complete agreement with her that we must bring this topic into public awareness so that all may be healed. (And yes, my own childhood trauma became more deeply meaningful to me.) This book is just loaded with our current understanding of the nature of trauma. Sieff’s sensitive approach to this difficult material proves to me that this is how we are going to help others heal: through love, caring, and witnessing. I rate this book as excellent – a gift from a great soul! Keep a dictionary handy.
‘Standing up again after emotional trauma’ by V. Foelix (Amazon USA)
In praise of Dr. Sieff and her contributors who help map the difficult journey through trauma and the need for fine attunement!
A hopeful image for ‘attention to change’ was a sailor adjusting the sail each moment, finely attuning for a flexible and adaptable course, allowing constant course corrections. These conversations help me see that if parents, educators and therapists dare to be deeply present to themselves and their environment, they can create healthier goals and possibilities for a child to develop a more secure sense of self and be able to stand up again from traumatic experiences and crouching postures.