The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog and Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook

What traumatized children can teach us about loss, love, and healing

By Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz

Basic Books


I hope I am ready to read this book without polluting my own thoughts about my own study, writing and book!

In referencing Glasser’s techniques I do not want to ignore or minimize the affects of trauma.  Just because his technique does not focus on the past does not mean the past is not extremely significant.  He suggests that focus on the past is not the work of his therapy.  Instead, I suggest, this work with and on the affects of trauma can be better worked on through friendships and other close relationships an individual needs to have or develop within its sphere of human contact.

Experts have identified that it is primarily unresolved trauma as it is passed down the generations that is at the root of so much of the maltreatment children receive.  But the interplay between the trauma itself and present behavior – in the meeting of the two basic human needs that Glasser describes – is complex.


“My work has taken me to the intersection of mind and brain, to the place where we make choices and experience influences that determine whether or not we become humane and truly human.  (Perry/BD/6)”

“…in order to understand trauma we need to understand memory.  (Perry/BD/6)”

It is important to realize that in considering the effect that trauma has on children we need to acknowledge that just because a child has grown into an adult those same effects are still present in the larger body.  The effects of trauma do not magically resolve itself over time.  Do not have compassion only for those in the smaller bodies.  We must have that same compassion for ourselves and for one another.

Speaking about a young client:

“She anxiously studied my face with her dark brown eyes, watching my movements, listening to my voice for some nonverbal cue to help her make sense of this interaction.  (Perry/BD/8)”

“When I ask children like Tina what they want to be when they grow up, they often respond with “If I grow up,” because they’ve seen so much real-life death and violence at home and in their neighborhoods that reaching adulthood seems uncertain.  (Perry/BD/12)”

“Tina would tell me that she wanted to be a teacher, and other times she said she wanted to be a hairdresser, all with the perfectly ordinary, rapidly changing desires of a girl of (Perry/BD/12) her age.  But as we discussed specifics of these various goals, it took some time before I was able to help her recognize that the future can be something you plan for, something you can predict and even change, rather than a series of unforeseen events that just happen to you.  (Perry/BD/13)”

I can relate to this.

I still can’t plan for the future.  This is an example of a different brain, that does not just expect to survive, or expect that there will be a future, let alone one you can plan for, predict, change – rather we do see it as “a series of unforeseen events that just happen to you.

“Taking bits and pieces from each of my mentors, I began to develop a therapeutic approach that sought to explain emotional and behavioral problems as symptoms of dysfunction within the brain.  (Perry/BD/18)”

“…impact of stress during early life…..early influences can literally leave imprints on the brain that last a lifetime.  (Perry/BD/19)”

“Biology isn’t just genes playing out some unalterable script.  It is sensitive to the world around it, as evolutionary theories predicted.  In some of the experiments [Seymour Levine’s] the duration of the stress was only minutes long, involving just a few moments of human handling of rat pups (baby rats), which is highly stressful for them.  But this very brief stressful experience, at a key time in the development of the brain, resulted in alterations in stress hormone systems that lasted into adulthood.  (Perry/BD/19)”

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