Understanding and Healing Emotional Trauma is an interdisciplinary book which explores our current understanding of the forces involved in both the creation and healing of emotional trauma. Through engaging conversations with pioneering clinicians and researchers, Daniela F. Sieff offers accessible yet substantial answers to questions such as: What is emotional trauma? What are the causes? What are its consequences? What does it mean to heal emotional trauma? and How can healing be achieved?

These questions are addressed through three interrelated perspectives: psychotherapy, neurobiology and evolution.  Psychotherapeutic perspectives take us inside the world of the unconscious mind and body to illuminate how emotional trauma distorts our relationships with ourselves and with other people (Donald Kalsched, Bruce Lloyd, Tina Stromsted, Marion Woodman). Neurobiological perspectives explore how trauma impacts the systems that mediate our emotional lives and well-being (Ellert Nijenhuis, Allan Schore, Daniel Siegel). And evolutionary perspectives contextualise emotional trauma in terms of the legacy we have inherited from our distant ancestors (James Chisholm, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Randolph Nesse).   

Transforming lives affected by emotional trauma is possible, but it can be a difficult process. The insights shared in these lively and informative conversations can support and facilitate that process.This book will therefore be a valuable resource for psychotherapists, psychologists, counsellors and other mental health professionals in practice and training, and also for members of the general public who are endeavouring to find ways through their own emotional trauma.  In addition, because emotional trauma often has its roots in childhood, this book will also be of interest and value to parents, teachers and anyone concerned with the care of children.

chapter |8 pages


part I|80 pages

Psychodynamic perspectives

chapter 1|14 pages

Uncovering the secrets of the traumatised psyche

The life-saving inner protector who is also a persecutor 1

chapter 2|21 pages

Return from exile

Beyond self-alienation, shame and addiction to reconnect with ourselves

chapter 3|18 pages

Dances of psyche and soma

Re-inhabiting the body in the wake of emotional trauma

chapter 4|25 pages

Spiralling through the apocalypse

Facing the Death Mother to claim our lives

part II|72 pages

Neurobiological perspectives

chapter 5|20 pages

The selves behind the self

Trauma and dissociation

chapter 6|26 pages

On the same wave-length

How our emotional brain is shaped by human relationships

chapter 7|24 pages

Beyond the prison of implicit memory

The mindful path to well-being

part III|58 pages

Evolutionary perspectives

chapter 8|19 pages

Live fast, die young

An evolved response to hostile environments?

chapter 9|21 pages

The natural history of mothers and infants

An evolutionary and anthropological perspective

chapter 10|16 pages

Emotional evolution

A Darwinian understanding of suffering and well-being

part IV|18 pages

Concluding perspective

chapter 11|16 pages

Connecting conversations

Expanding our understanding to transform our trauma-worlds