I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Being acutely aware of my own background, I knew a book on trauma might not be the right fit for me. As such I probably should have said no to reviewing it, but I was curious and I wanted to take a look at what the author’s theory was.
The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma by James S. Gordon
Who this book is for: those who won't seek out professional help and/or believe that medication is not for them.
Who this book is not for: anyone who is triggered by heavy descriptions of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional), struggling with an eating disorder or not already on a solid healing path.
The book starts off immediately anti-medication. Saying that with his tips you can be free of all medication; healthy, and trauma-free. Immediately this is an issue for me, medication can be necessity and one should seek out the advice of their doctor before coming to such a conclusion. Health - mental and physical, require a team of knowledgeable people figuring out the best path for you. This is not as accessible as it should be nor is it an easy task. Medication is a useful tool and one that should not be thrown out the window just because breathing can affect how you feel. Breathing, in this specific case, is the second tool that James S. Gordon gives us. He calls it soft belly and it is a mediation tool to help focus your breath, quieting the mind, body, and spirit. As someone who has been working very hard on relearning how to breath in day to day life and stressful moments, I very much understand the purpose of it. However he promotes it as the be all end all and it isn't, there is so much more to it then just learning how to breath and mediate.
Something not acknowledged until the third-last chapter is that how and when you choose to do something, in regards to healing, is important. You have to be ready for the different stages of healing and each stage can take a varying amount of time to work through. I think that is my biggest issue with the book, time is never addressed. Healing isn't an instant journey, it's not going to take the length of reading this book and TA-DA you are good! No, it's just giving you a few tools to help you move through the healing journey. I tend to compare healing to mourning. There are varying stages and you can rotate through them depending on where you are at mentally.
He has no trigger warnings written anywhere. I am not triggered by descriptions of abuse, however I found his heavy descriptions to be unnecessary and abundant. We do not need that much detail to understand the point he is trying to make. I am personally triggered by conversations regarding diet. The third time he brought up diet, I wrote "I didn't need a diet book. Diet is part of my trauma", something he doesn’t address at all. Chapter 10 is called the Trauma-Healing Diet and I have many issues with this chapter. Food can not be addictive. Restriction causes binging. Honestly the chapter made me so angry and if you feel like food is something you struggle with I would highly recommend the F*ck It Diet by Caroline Donner.
Out of all the chapters in the book, the one I enjoyed the most and had the least issues with was, chapter 6, All Emotions Are Innocent.
The graph he includes is well done, as are the descriptions that follow. I have done something similar for years at this point. It has been very useful in my healing. I used different terms because that was the language I had access to, but the idea is the same. I especially liked his section on dialogue. I tend to have running conversations in my head. The idea of writing it out and physically seeing those conversation is something I will be taking with me.
At the end of the day, I personally think that this book will do more harm than good. In practice many of his tips are good and thought out. However I would prefer to promote the physical program he runs rather than use of this particular self guided book. When it comes to trauma and dealing with it on your own, it's definitely about finding the book that suits you best. This book wasn't for me, but if you think you'll enjoy it go in with a skeptics mind and be cautious. I think that's an approach that should be used for any self-help books.
Books that have greatly helped me through my trauma include:
Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker - my review
The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor - my review
The F*ck It Diet by Caroline Donner - my review
Emotional Blackmail by Susan Forward, Ph.D - my review
Mother Who Can’t Love by Susan Forward, Ph.D - my review
Come As Your Are by Emily Nagoski Ph.D - my review
These books are shared with the caveat that not every book is for every person. As mentioned above go in with a skeptic mind and grab what truly interests you.
I'm a lifestyle blogger, covering deep subjects including body images, battles with food, and overcoming how I was raised. I try to be as authentic as possible and I don’t sugar coat how I see things.