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
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a fascinating book! It answered many of the questions I have had about people who commit horrible crimes. It is actually a book about how the brain develops and what happens when something goes terribly wrong in the early years of brain growth. The early experiences of children determine how there brains will grow. If the are given no stimulation or are traumatized, the early brain can't develop properly and every additional experience will be influenced by the missing stages.
I've read a lot of books about feral children, serial killers, sociopaths and psychotics in an attempt to figure out what makes them the way they are. Most of what I have read is limited to what they do instead of why. I keep looking for the missing link. This book is the closest to an answer as I have found. The author uses a medical model of brain development to explain the changes in the brain from trauma or isolation and yet leaves room for individual personality. To me this is the key to why not all children who experience this kind of trauma go on to become murders, serial killers and predators.
As someone else mentioned in a review, this book has made me more compassionate towards people who do heinous things and yet made me more aware of why they cannot be trusted to be free among us. The case of Leon was the best example. Guilty of the rape and murder of two young girls, Dr. Perry was called on to give a pre-sentencing report to decide if his sentence was life in prison or the death penalty. Dr. Perry found that Leon had been left alone in an apartment all day long, day after day. He had no stimulation or love which impaired his ability to relate to others. Sadly, it was a vicious circle for him. He was unlovable because he wasn't loved in infancy but he couldn't get love from the people around him because he was unlovable. He developed into a brutal young man with no conscience and low impulse control. He was damaged by his childhood, but he turned into a man who could not be allowed to live in society. Dr. Perry does not say what happened in his sentencing, but I would have given him life in prison without parole.
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