Important new book:  Scared Sick: The Role of Childhood Trauma in Adult Disease by Robin Karr-Morse (Jan 3, 2012)

“No one explains better than Robin Karr-Morse…how toxic stress triggers problems that have created a major public health crisis – the research, the risks, and the results. Highlighting case studies and cutting-edge scientific findings, the authors show how our innate fight-or-flight system can injure us if overworked in the early stages of life, triggering diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, and addiction later in life.”

[And many more health problems including anxiety, asthma, other autoimmune diseases including arthritis, many cases of cancer, triggered genes for suicide — and many more]

Book Description

The first years of human life are more important than we ever realized. In Scared Sick, Robin Karr-Morse connects psychology, neurobiology, endocrinology, immunology, and genetics to demonstrate how chronic fear in infancy and early childhood— when we are most helpless—lies at the root of common diseases in adulthood.

Compassionate and based on the latest research, Scared Sick will unveil a major public health crisis. Highlighting case studies and cutting-edge scientific findings, Karr- Morse shows how our innate fight-or-flight system can injure us if overworked in the early stages of life. Persistent stress can trigger diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, and addiction later on.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“information-packed….the authors do make a very persuasive case that preventive measures should be taken to eliminate or mitigate early trauma” 

Kirkus Reviews
“A wake-up call? Absolutely.”

Daniel J. Siegel, MD, Executive Director, Mindsight Institute, Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine, and author of Mindsight

“Karr-Morse and Wiley have done it again! Scared Sick raises many profound and urgent questions about how stress during the earliest moments of our lives—in utero and out in the world—can create lasting negative impacts on the health of our bodies and minds. While many of the exact details remain to be clarified with further research, this book’s summary of the science of stress creates a call to action that is quite clear: We need to awaken ourselves to the importance of both preventing toxic stress early in life and helping the many who have been affected during these early years to have the healing support that is available in the form of social connections and mindful reflective skills that can lead us in new and helpful directions in our collective lives.”

Vincent J. Felitti, MD, Founder, The California Institutes of Preventive Medicine

Scared Sick is useful, highly readable, scientifically advanced, and relevant to all of us in better understanding our lives, especially how our earliest life experiences can translate into health and disease over the decades. Another impressive book by Robin Karr-Morse with Meredith Wiley.”

David Lawrence, Jr., President of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and former publisher of The Miami Herald
Ghosts from the Nursery helped me decide—more than a decade ago—to retire to devote all my energies to ‘school readiness’ issues. The thesis of Scared Sick energizes me further. Within is an abundance of information and wisdom—about fetuses who feel pain, prenatal depression, trauma and the Unabomber, the mixed blessings of child care, and much more. The book is a splendid blend of sense and science.”

About the Author

Robin Karr-Morse is family therapist and a veteran of child welfare and public education systems in Oregon. Formerly the Director of Parent Training for the state child welfare system, she was the first executive director of the Oregon Children’s Trust Fund, a consultant to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton’s Touchpoints Program and a lecturer on the Brazelton Seminar Faculty. She has worked with county, state and national officials across the country to create social policies which support families in children’s earliest development. Currently, she is working with a group of colleagues to build “The Parenting Institute” to provide parents with state of the art developmental knowledge, skills and support which focuses on building emotionally competent children from conception through adolescence.


Scared Sick Lecture and Book-signing with Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith Wiley, April 2 in Albany

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 10:17 AM PST

Toxic: extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful. Stress: a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.

Toxic stress is a regular companion for children living in families where abuse, neglect, and dysfunction are part of everyday life.  The impact on children and on our communities is profound and far-reaching.


Meredith Wiley is a former prosecutor and currently state director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids New York, a crime fighting organization of law enforcement leaders and victims of violence who work to educate policy makers and the public on what works to get kids off to a good start in life and keep them from ever becoming criminals. Meredith is a former prosecutor.  She has been appointed to the New York State Children’s Cabinet Advisory Council, the Early Childhood Advisory Council, the Governor’s Task Force to Transform Juvenile Justice and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, and also is on the National Board of Advisors for the Nurse Family Partnership Program and the National Board of Advisors for the Parent Child Home Program.



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  1. custodial parent may pay child support to a non-custodial parent. Typically one has the same duty to pay child support irrespective of sex, so a mother is required to pay support to a father just as a father must pay a mother. Where there is joint custody, the child is considered to have two custodial parents and no non-custodial parents, and a custodial parent with a higher income (obligor) may be required to pay the other custodial parent (obligee).

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