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Book and Media Reviews
August 1, 2007

Healing Invisible Wounds: Paths to Hope and Recovery in a Violent World

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(5):569-573. doi:10.1001/jama.298.5.569-b

The depth of human cruelty is fully on display in the pages of Healing Invisible Wounds. More than enough examples of brutality, inhumanity, and emotional destruction are presented in many brief stories about victims of trauma and terror. Fortunately, the remarkable resiliency of many of these survivors of extreme violence, as well as their capacity to heal themselves, provides counterbalance.

The author of this book is a psychiatrist who established a mental health clinic for refugees. For the past 20 years, his program has provided care for more than 10 000 survivors of torture and terrorism. Individuals who have been scarred by the violence associated with war and brutal political regimes from many countries, including Cambodia, Rwanda, Chile, and Bosnia, have received assistance and psychiatric comfort. The author's extensive experience in this setting has led him to a basic conclusion, which is the major theme of this book. Although cultural differences affect the treatment and prognosis of these individuals, survivors of violence possess a remarkable capacity to heal themselves. A key element in their recovery from an emotional crisis is the trauma story. These narratives about violent events and their effect on life as told by survivors of trauma facilitate participation in self-healing.

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