Self-Help
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
100 Things Guys Need to Know1001 Solution-Focused Questions101 Ways to Meditate17 Lies That Are Holding You Back29 Gifts8 Keys to Stress ManagementA Layman's Guide to Managing FearA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeAddiction and ChangeAddiction Recovery ToolsADHD Grown UpAdolescent DepressionAdvanced Sexual TechniquesAfter SuicideAfter the Ecstasy, the LaundryAge-Proof Your MindAnswers for AristotleAnxiety, Phobias, and PanicAre You Fully Charged?Authentic HappinessAwakening Self-EsteemBe Honest--You're Not That Into Him EitherBeating the BluesBecoming OrgasmicBeen There, Done That? DO THIS!Better Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBeyond AddictionBibliotherapyBinge No MoreBipolar DisorderBlinkBoomers Really Can Put Old On HoldBrain LongevityBrainstormBread Upon the WatersBreak Through PainBreathingBringing Up ParentsBuddhist Boot CampBullyBut I Love HimCalm EnergyCalm Focus JoyCan't Eat, Won't EatCancer on $5 a Day* *(chemo not included)Caring in Remembered WaysChained to the DeskChange Your AgeChange Your Brain, Change Your LifeChange Your ThinkingChildren of the Aging Self-AbsorbedChildren of the Self-AbsorbedConceptual BlockbustingConquer Your Critical Inner VoiceConquering Postpartum DepressionConquering Shame and CodependencyCoping With Difficult PeopleCoping with Infuriating, Mean, Critical PeopleCoping With TraumaCreative Writing In Health And Social CareCrossing the Unknown SeaDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDaydreamingDe-Stress Your Life in 7 Easy StepsDealing with a NarcissistDefying DementiaDelivered from DistractionDematerializingDepression FalloutDepression-Free for LifeDivorce PoisonDoing ItDone With The CryingDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Optimum HealthDr. Weisinger's Anger Work-Out BookDying to Be ThinEasy YogaEmbarrassing Medical ProblemsEmbracing UncertaintyEmotional Chaos to ClarityEmotional ClaustrophobiaEmotional Fitness for IntimacyEmotional IntelligenceEnjoying Guilty PleasuresEssays on Philosophical CounselingEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday GreensExercise for Mood and AnxietyFailureFamily Desk Reference to Psychology Family FirstFast Food for the SoulFat and FuriousFatal FlawsFear and Other Uninvited GuestsFeeding Your ChildFinding Meaning in the Second Half of LifeFlow: The Psychology of Optimal ExperienceFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFlying ColorsForgive Your Parents, Heal YourselfFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFrom Sabotage to SuccessFull Steam Ahead!Getting a Good Night's SleepGetting ControlGetting over Getting MadGetting the Love You WantGetting the Love You Want Audio CompanionGetting Your Life BackGirl StuffGirlWiseGod Never BlinksGoddess WorshipGoing DownGoing Home without Going CrazyGood MedicineGoodbye, ThingsGrieving Mental IllnessGuilt, Shame, and AnxietyHalf Empty, Half FullHe's Just Not That Into YouHeal & Forgive IIHealing ADDHealing through ExerciseHealthy AgingHonoring GriefHooking UpHot ButtonsHow Full Is Your Bucket?How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill MeHow Philosophy Can Save Your LifeHow Proust Can Change Your LifeHow Successful People ThinkHow to Change Someone You LoveHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Handle a Hard-To-Handle KidHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHow to Live Well Without Owning a CarHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Stay SaneHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenI AMI am PotentialI Saw It HappenI Wasn't Ready to Say GoodbyeI'd Rather LaughI'm OK, You're My ParentsIllness and the Art of Creative Self-ExpressionIn the Mood, AgainIntroduction to Qi YogaIt's Called a Breakup Because It's BrokenIt's Not as Bad as It SeemsJudo with WordsKripalu YogaKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga MeditationKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDLearn to RelaxLearned OptimismLearning Outside the Lines Letting Go of AngerLies! Lies! Lies!Life MakeoversLife StrategiesLife's WorkLifting DepressionLiving the TruthLiving Well with Pain and IllnessLiving with AnxietyLiving Your Best LifeLiving Your DreamLost in the MirrorLove & SurvivalLove Your Body, Love Your LifeLoving Someone With Bipolar DisorderLunar Flow YogaMadhur Jaffrey's World VegetarianMake It CountMaking a Good Brain GreatMaking ADD WorkMaking Your Mind MatterManaging Your MindManic DepressionMastering Anger and AggressionMastering the Power of Self-hypnosisMaui PilatesMeditation for Optimum HealthMeditation in a New York MinuteMind MappingMind-Body Workbook for AnxietyMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness for Urban Depression: Tools for Relief from Stressful City LivingModerate DrinkingMotherstylesMozart's Brain and the Fighter PilotNapkin NotesNatural Healing for DepressionNew Hope for People with DepressionNo Enemies WithinNo More AnxietyNot Your Mother's LifeObsessive-Compulsive Disorder DemystifiedOne Last Hug Before I GoOrgasmOrgasmsOutsmarting DepressionOutsmarting OvereatingOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOvercoming Compulsive CheckingOvercoming Compulsive HoardingOvercoming DepressionOvercoming Obsessive ThoughtsOvercoming the Fear of FearPain Free for LifePain Free for WomenParanoia of Everyday LifeParenting Children With ADHDPassionate VegetarianPlan BPlanning for UncertaintyPlato, Not Prozac!Position Of The Day PlaybookPositivityPotatoes Not ProzacPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPowerfully Recovered!PredatorsPreventing Misbehavior in ChildrenProcrastinationProcrastinationProtecting the GiftPsychology Moment by MomentQiGong IllustratedQuantum Memory PowerRaising a Self-StarterRaising Kids in an Age of TerrorRaising Resilient ChildrenReady for AnythingReal Solutions for Overcoming Internet AddictionsRecovery from AddictionRelationship RescueRespect-Me RulesRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRomantic IntelligenceSabbathSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSelf MattersSelf-CoachingSelf-CompassionSelf-Help NationSelf-Help Stuff That WorksSelf-Help Without the HypeSelf-NurtureSeven Life Lessons from Noah's ArkSex and SpiritSex DetoxSex PositionsSex Q & ASextasySexual PleasureSleep BetterSolar Flow Yoga DVDSoulmatesSpiritually Healing the Indigo Children (and Adult Indigos, Too!)Spontaneous HealingStanding at Water's EdgeStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStaying Sane When Your Family Comes to VisitStop Arguing with Your KidsStop Caretaking the Borderline or NarcissistStop Me Because I Can't Stop Myself Stop OverreactingStop Smoking and Chewing Tobacco for Life ChangesStop Walking on EggshellsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStress ReliefStrong, Smart, & BoldSun SalutationsSunbathing in the RainSurviving a Borderline ParentSurviving Manic DepressionSurviving Sexual ViolenceTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaking Charge of AngerTaking Charge of Anger: Six Steps to Asserting Yourself without Losing ControlTaming Your Inner BratTeen Angst? NaaahTen Minutes to RelaxThank You for Being Such a PainThe 10 Best Anxiety BustersThe 5 Reasons Why We OvereatThe 7 Secrets of the ProlificThe Anger WorkbookThe Antidepressant Survival ProgramThe Art of Becoming HumanThe Art of Exceptional LivingThe Beginner's Guide to Healthy EatingThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Betty Ford Center Book of AnswersThe Bipolar Disorder Survival GuideThe Breakout PrincipleThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Chronic Pain SolutionThe Complete Vegetarian HandbookThe Consolations of PhilosophyThe Core Question: Who Am I?The Crowdsourced Performance ReviewThe Emotional Eater's Repair ManualThe Emotional RevolutionThe End-of-Life HandbookThe Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2005The Essential KamasutraThe Feeling Good HandbookThe Five Things We Cannot Change ...The Game of TruthThe Gift of FearThe Gift of ShynessThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Guide for International Intercultural Couples and Families Intercultural MarriageThe Happy Hook-UpThe Healing JourneyThe Healing Journey for CouplesThe Healing Journey Through GriefThe Healing Power of PetsThe Identity CodeThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Introvert AdvantageThe Intuitive WriterThe Irritable Male SyndromeThe Jewel Tree of TibetThe Joy of MeditatingThe Last Self-Help Book You'll Ever NeedThe Light of DiscoveryThe Little Book of Healthy TeasThe Little Yoga BookThe Magic of Thinking BigThe Making of Dr. PhilThe Male Stress Survival GuideThe Money WorkbookThe Mood CureThe Mozart EffectThe Myth of Self-EsteemThe New Cancer SurvivorsThe New Rational TherapyThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe OCD WorkbookThe Passion PlanThe Pilates Workout JournalThe Pill Book Guide to Natural MedicinesThe Places That Scare YouThe Pocket Life CoachThe Porn TrapThe Power of FocusThe Power of Full EngagementThe Power of Negative ThinkingThe Power of PlayThe Power of Self-CoachingThe Pursuit of PerfectThe Quest for Peace, Love, and a 24'' WaistThe Real Rules for GirlsThe Secret of LifeThe Secret Strength of DepressionThe Self ImprovedThe Self-Compassion Skills WorkbookThe Self-Help SourcebookThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Spa DeckThe Stoic Art of LivingThe Stress CureThe Stress Less WorkbookThe Stress Owner's ManualThe Stress Reduction Workbook for TeensThe SuperStress SolutionThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Therapy for the SaneThe Truth About Chronic PainThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Van Gogh BluesThe Way of StretchingThe Way of the JournalThe Way of TransitionThe Weblog HandbookThe Why CaféThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival HandbookThere's a Spiritual Solution to Every ProblemThings Might Go Terribly, Horribly WrongThink Confident, Be ConfidentThink NakedThink SmartThinking for a ChangeThis Is HowTotal PilatesTrain Your Brain to Get HappyTrain Your Brain to Get RichTransformation Trauma in the Lives of ChildrenUltimate SexUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUndoing DepressionUnhappy TeenagersUnlock the Genius WithinUntangling the WebVirtual AddictionWaking Up to What You DoWay to Be!What We Say MattersWhat Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Holding You Back? When a Family Member Has DementiaWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen in Doubt, Make BeliefWhen Perfect Isn't Good EnoughWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhen Things Fall ApartWhen Words Are Not EnoughWhen Your Body Gets the BluesWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWherever You Go, There You AreWhy Can't I Change?Why Is It Always About You?Why Smart Executives FailWorried All the TimeWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting as a Sacred PathWriting in FlowWriting to HealYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!Yoga 4 TeensYoga as MedicineYoga for EveryoneYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Regular Guys DVDYoga for the Young at HeartYoga on DemandYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYou Are Not AloneYou Are Not Your IllnessYou Can Think Yourself ThinYou'll See It When You Believe ItYour Body Speaks Your MindYour Brain on FoodYour Child, Bully or Victim?Zen Sex

Related Topics
Coping With TraumaReview - Coping With Trauma
A Guide to Self-Understanding
by Jon G. Allen
American Psychiatric Press, 1995
Review by CTL
Jul 1st 1999 (Volume 3, Issue 26)

Most of us have had the reaction "I wish I'd written that" when reading something well written, well organized, genuinely informative and lucid. I had that reaction when I read Jon G. Allen's book, Coping with Trauma: A Guide to Self-Understanding. The book is a product of a unique situation, namely, a Rochester Clinical Psychologist working as a senior staff psychologist in the very specialized long-term Trauma Treatment Center within the psychoanalytic Menninger Clinic. Moreover, Dr. Allen had the unusual assignment of developing a psychoeducational program for trauma clients in that long-term intensive treatment facility. This book, his third related to trauma, is a testimony to the wisdom of specializing on a circumscribed psychiatric disorder, as distinguished from the usual "I-see-all-kinds" private practice. For most of this century, psychiatry has focused on internal emotional conflicts but since the Vietnam War and especially in the last decade the importance of real life trauma has captured a lot of psychiatry's and the public's attention.

Coping with Trauma provides current psychiatric explanations and theories to patients in a language and style they can understand. There are many case illustrations which help the reader see the possible personal relevance of well established clinical observations and beliefs. In keeping with the orientation of the supporting institution, the emphasis in Allen's educational program is on the patient gaining insight, in a general way, into the common history, causes and psychodynamics of severe, lasting reactions to trauma. Self-understanding of the origin and maintenance of trauma symptoms is the clear goal. Although a self-help book, Allen is clearly an insight expert, not a comprehensive self-help expert. Indeed, the other non-insight facets of self-help, such as behavior modification, self-control of emotions, learning coping skills, and cognitive restructuring, are minimized or neglected. Nevertheless, this book does what it intends to do very well: help the trauma victim understand how his/her traditional psychiatrist understands and is thinking about the serious consequences of trauma. This alone is a commendable goal, of course. If the patient becomes more insightful through education, that should improve the collaborative aspects and the outcome of psychodynamic therapy.

The first part of the book describes many types of trauma and how traumas may interfere with normal psychosocial development. The author also discusses important biological aspects of adapting to severe trauma--fight or flight reactions, limbic vs. neocortex "minds," changes in neurotransmitters, etc. The most beneficial parts of the book are the six chapters that describe in some detail the effects of trauma in terms of (1) our evolutionary-based need for safe, nurturing attachment and its disruption by traumatic experiences, (2) the emotions of fear, anger, shame, and depression aroused by trauma in interaction with one's temperament and personality, (3) the mental coping with intense, repetitive painful experiences by pushing the events and the memories out of consciousness (dissociation), (4) the eruption of unwanted memories (flashbacks) and the suppression or distortion of memories that sometimes occur, (5) how the self tries to cope with the internal conflicts and shame arising from trauma, sometimes feeling helpless, sometimes extremely self-blaming, sometimes self-destructive, and (6) the huge impact on relationships in which we may repeat the trauma over and over, become bonded with an abuser, or withdraw, distrust, become over-dependent, vulnerable, controlling or hostile. Most patients would surely find this fundamental and useful stuff. It is presented in a very gentle, reassuring, uncritical manner.

The remaining parts of the book deal with the two most common diagnoses associated with trauma--Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Dissociative Disorders--and with many possible treatment methods. PTSD has three groups of symptoms: hyperexcitability (anxiety and over-responding), reexperiencing (flashbacks and nightmares), and withdrawal or numbing. The chapter on Dissociative Disorders has an especially good section explaining the understandable development of coping mechanisms for escaping painful memories. It also explains why the Multiple Personality Disorder diagnosis was discontinued. Not surprisingly, there are many other diagnoses that occasionally follow overwhelming trauma--anxiety and panic, depression, addictions, psychosomatic disorders, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders, personality disorders, and others. These are mentioned briefly.

The standard psychiatric treatment for Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is hospitalization, if safety is an issue, followed by long-term individual therapy, probably twice a week for months if not years, plus hypnosis (at Menninger's, at least). Dr. Allen recognizes the prohibitive cost of such a regimen. In this program, the purpose of individual therapy is not to produce a catharsis or abreaction--not to quickly release pent-up emotions and repressed experiences. In fact, catharsis may retraumatize a patient. The recommended way to treat traumatic memories, repressed or conscious, is to talk about them, but in a safe setting and in a gradual, controlled, comforting but frank kind of way. The goals are to help the patient understand what has happened and eventually gain a modicum of emotional tolerance ("become able to stand") for the awful things suffered by him/her.

In the chapter titled Self-Regulation, the stated rationale is for self-control to become an antidote to feeling helpless. However, a strong emphasis is first placed on the complex, potentially harmful, long-term, uncertain and difficult nature of self-help methods when used with post-traumatic disorders. He is certainly right when he says the effectiveness of self-control methods in this area have not been researched yet (the exception might be Marcia Linehan's work with Borderline Personality Disorders). Following the warnings, the kinds of self-control methods mentioned are: increasing positive feelings, sleep, relaxation, exercise, meditation, hypnosis and biofeedback, each with its own warnings. Given the context, it seems unlikely that readers will eagerly rush to start seriously planning a self-regulation program, especially if they are given more warnings of grave risks by their psychiatrist when they go to talk with him/her about their possible contributions to their own treatment. That is the dilemma.

Everyone would agree that great caution is needed when we know so little about self-control with serious out-of-control behaviors, like PTSD and DID. Of course, there is no reassurance that the psychiatric insights given so cogently throughout this book will not be mis-understood and mis-used by readers of the book, especially when not in an ongoing program run by professionals. The author doesn't issue such warnings with every psychiatric notion. All thinking persons, regardless of orientation, should be screaming for more research on every treatment and every self-help method.

In my opinion, the solution is not to encourage the avoidance of self-help (impossible because everyone is trying to help themselves all the time), but to positively discuss self-control methods with full acknowledgment that many are not yet proven and may carry risks (much as done by this author). If the determined reader of this book gets beyond the warnings and absorbs this last chapter on self-regulation, he or she could surely find a few self-help methods that seem doable, safe, and promising. They could then find still more helpful self-help methods. The beauty of this book is that it specifically addresses in depth the understanding of a circumscribed and serious set of trauma related problems. Much more needs to be done. Current psychiatric theory is very important, the result of a century of treatment experience and thought. But it is unacceptable to primarily rely on Freudian and Neo-Freudian theory, especially when so many around the world have been traumatized and so very few can afford the standard insight-oriented psychiatric treatment.

I would recommend the book to patients coping with trauma who are able to absorb a great deal of information and then figure out practical applications in their own life. I also think the book would be quite useful for therapists-in-training or for therapists who need to know more in this area and involve their patients more in treatment planning. The book is four years old but that isn't a serious problem except perhaps for the medication recommendations.


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7800 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716