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Publisher's Summary

A pioneering physician reveals how childhood stress can lead to lifelong health problems and shows us what we can do to break the cycle.

Two-thirds of us have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience, or ACE, such as abuse, neglect, parental substance dependence, or mental illness. Even though these events may have occurred long ago, they have the power to haunt us long into adulthood, and now we have found that they may even contribute to lifelong illness.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, the founder/CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness and recipient of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award, expands on similar topics as in her popular TED talk as she demystifies the connection between adversity and ill health. After surveying more than 17,000 adult patients, she found that the higher a person's ACE score, the worse their health. This led Burke Harris to an astonishing breakthrough - childhood stress changes our neural systems, and its impact lasts a lifetime.

Through vivid storytelling that combines both scientific insight with deeply moving stories about her patients and their families, Burke Harris illuminates her journey of discovery from the academy to her own pediatric practice in San Francisco's poverty-ridden Bayview Hunters Point. She reroots the story of childhood trauma and its aftermath in science to help listeners see themselves and others more clearly.

For anyone who has faced a difficult childhood or who cares about the millions of children who do, the innovative and acclaimed health interventions outlined in the The Deepest Well represents vitally important hope for change.

©2018 Nadine Burke Harris (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

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Average Customer Ratings

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Blown away with the content of The Deepest Well

As a physician myself, this book has life changing and life giving information. I will be using what I have learned from Dr. Burke Harris in my medical practice, my community, my family and personally. My ACE (AChE) score is 7/10 and I am amidst a several year journey of recovery. The author/Dr. is spot on over and over throughout her book, her medical practice and her research. Universal application of the principles of her work and her passion will be a quantum leap to the improvement of health care and mental health care, simultaneously.
The Deepest Well is by far the most meaningful and relevant book I have read in years.
Thank you Dr. Nadine Burke Harris (and her family) for the valuable contribution of this book and your work.
Diana, MD, Oklahoma

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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A masterpiece for our time

It was so inspiring to hear Dr. Nadine Burke Harris read her book. Her passion and wisdom comes across with every word. We will look back on this book as one of the most important cries for change to break the cycle of toxic stress. She covers the research better than most, and combines it with compelling stories of her patients and her own life. I’m just amazed that she had time to write this, considering all that she is doing to change the landscape of Adverse Childhood Experiences. This book is for everyone!!! My deepest gratitude to all of the people who have supported this work .

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Must Read

If you could sum up The Deepest Well in three words, what would they be?

The solution to a big problem in our country

What does Dr. Nadine Burke Harris bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Science, evidence, and experience

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I did. I ignored all of my work to listen to this book. I finished it in a day.

Any additional comments?

How did I not know about this information before?

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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A phenomenal must read

This book is excellently written. Dr. Burke's reading made this book as powerful as it is educational. The passion and pain in her tone as she read gave this educational book a personal connection to listeners. I would highly recommend this book to any parent, clinician, social service professional, educator, and law enforcement professional.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great information

I had no idea the long term effects that childhood adversity could cause. This book clearly articulated how those experiences can cause mental and physical challenges in later years. I feel more equipped to deal with these challenges with the information that has been shared in this book. Thank you!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A waste of time.

I’m a PhD psychologist and the book advertised ‘healing the effects of high ACES.’ I use the ACE test with my patients, but am clueless as to what to do on a practical level with someone who has elevated ACES that date back maybe 10-40 years. Hearing this author talk about tadpoles, rats, black tie dinners, endless anecdotal stories of kids in her practice, politicians she knows in San Francisco when I live on the East Coast, and biochemical theory offered me nothing useful. Knowing why my patients are messed up from the childhood they experienced doesn’t help. I can be empathic with understanding of their issues, but someone who is suicidal, or highly depressed in my office needs more than that and wants more: direction, guidance, effective answers. This book offers none of that.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Astounding and Inspirational!

Thanks for teaching about ACEs and strategies to incorporate primary prevention protocols and to overcome!

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A great thought uncrystalized

The pros are making the community aware of the struggles of children, their consequence and what can be done. If the title implied that intervention is what we can do well right now, it would get my 5 stars. It is very touching and hopeful in an area that so needs hope and light. I enjoyed it and hope professionals working in the area would read and embrace the hope. It is especially encouraging that treating the family through talk therapy can address learning and behavior problems.

The other significant point made is how childhood trauma is endemic in all of humanity and not a blemish on inferior people. It is common and injurious to people in every walk of life. Services aimed at the care of children have an obligation to provide for the therapy and care of children regardless of their problems. No more zero tolerance! No more labeling! No more drugging and isolating kids out of existence.

The cons:
Trauma does irreparable harm and a big part of the 'healing' is learning to live with the wounds without hurting everyone around you. Mindfulness, healthy eating, exercise and meeting all the criteria of the beautiful people, isn't going to fix it even if you manage to achieve every milestone. This book is about childhood and never makes it to that long road ahead. It doesn't present any evidence that this work has long-term healing. It addresses childhood A.C.E.'s as if the only requirement of education was getting kids through the system and not preparing them for life.

The author moves from a position of personal involvement to a more administrative role and seems to lose touch with trauma. Suddenly, we can delegate solutions and need only to be better advocates. The times she mentions how flawed, and staggeringly lost an unwieldy institution can become is followed by a more delegated solution. For example, a successful woman who can work with school teachers who successfully work with her son and does not accurately reflect that educators have already involved Congress in programs that oppress and isolate youth because they don't want those 10% kids in their classroom and neither does the community. In this version, there's no concrete requirement of inclusion.

Trauma is identity destroying and repeated trauma often requires that victims break the bonds with family and community in order to thrive in the world. It's not obvious what the limitations are or the damage an injury has done. They learn to silence their voices and withdraw from social contact because it is not the world they know and that learning curve is long. There is no reason to want to be in a more successful environment. Restructuring identity after trauma is key to grasping the intimacy and tolerance of human weakness. This books suggest they will be fine if they just limp along.

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Paradigm-shattering book

You know that feeling when you discover something new, and then your view of the world is forever changed? This is one of those books. First of all, Nadine is truly an exceptional woman. Out of caring so much for her young patients, she discovered an association between childhood traumas (emotional traumas such as abuse or neglect) gets their little stress systems so hyperactive, that it starts causing havoc in their bodies. This leads to autoimmune diseases, ADHD, and later on in life cardiovascular diseases and stroke. But most doctors don't know about it, so they end up prescribing medications for the autoimmune diseases or for ADHD, without looking at the source of these conditions. She puts it this way: our stress systems evolved to help us fight or run away from threats, such as bears in the forest. But what happens when the bear comes home every night? Your stress hormones never get a chance to lower in your system. And the most interesting thing? Traumas are handed down, from generation to generation.

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Powerful Heroic Female Physician

Loved this brilliant crusade drama all the way to the end! This woman will become your heroine and mentor.