Essay Example on the Boy Raised as a Dog: Traumatized Kids' Stories of Loss, Love, & Healing

Paper Type:  Book review
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1227 Words
Date:  2023-02-20

Book title: 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?

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Author: Bruce D. Perry

Publication information: 29 Aug 2017, 3rd Revised Ed. Ingram Publisher Services New York, United States ISBN13 9780465094455


Bruce Perry - a specialized child psychiatrist, has helped children who have experienced inconceivable revulsion including genocide survivors, kidnapped teenagers, witnesses of murder, and casualties of family violence. In the book, Perry narrates the children's distresses and revolution through a scientific mirror describing the fantastic ability of the brain in the healing process. Skilfully and compassionately, Perry draws round the effects of traumatic experiences on children's brain mechanism, growth, and development. He enlightens the reader on actions that can relieve the child's hurt and assist them in developing into hale and hearty adults. Through the chronicles of children recover from the most devastating mental, physical, and emotional incidents, Perry describes how the diminutive aspects like affection, touch, language, and surroundings can intensely affect brain development. In this profoundly well-versed book, the author alludes that the hope to restore the fortitude of even the most gashed child is only when we comprehend the science of the brain.

Some of the cases accounted in the novel include: a story of a three year old girl who witnessed her mother being butchered to death, the kids moved from the Branch Davidian at the time of Waco siege, children involved in satanic ritual abuse in Texas, the youngster who was almost killed by his mother who suffered Munchausen's syndrome by proxy and the eponymous Boy raised by his uncle in a cage. Further, the book describes cases of a young adult who would cut herself, a child who at a young age had experienced sexual abuse and a boy taken up from a Russia orphanage after being held in a crib for a period of three years of since birth (Perry, & Szalavitz, 2017).

Perhaps the most gripping account is one involving a young boy who executed a dreadful murder at sixteen and was experiencing prison life. He had drunk too much and ended up killing two teenage girls living in his building and violated their bodies. Perry came in to assess the Boy's condition in order to gain insight into what had transpired. He realized that the Boy's problem was improbably generic since his brother lived a healthy life. He also apprehended that the brother and father were defensive of the mother and spoke on her behalf. On probing, he realized that the mother's intelligence level was below-average; she had become expectant in high school, and her first child lived with her family (Perry, & Szalavitz, 2017). Whenever she could not care for the child, there was always someone at home to take care of the infant.

However, with the second born, circumstances changed as she moved in with her husband and the first child in a city away from home. She only had slight ideas of baby care and would turn and feed him in the morning then abandon him for hours while taking walks with the first son. Perry suspected that it was during this time that the Boy failed to develop the ability to feel empathy or to form bonds. Absence of adults around him to nurture and pay him attention, the Boy grew into a sociopath with no capacity for empathy or understanding it. In fact, as he was being taken away after his sentence, he wondered to Perry why his family was crying while he was the one going to detention.

Another compelling case is that of a youngster who at three years saw her biological mother being slain to death and thereafter, her own throat was slashed. The little girl had not seen it all by witnessing the death of her mother; at that very tender age, she was being prepared to testify as to the only witness against the man who butchered her mother in her presence then slashed her throat (Perry, & Szalavitz, 2017). The girl was too young to understand death and had indeed tried to wake and feed her milk, laid down on her, and sung her lullabies.

The story about the lad raised like a dog is an account of an older man who found himself in charge of a young grandson of a deceased girlfriend. Not knowing how to bring up a child, but having sufficient knowledge in raising dogs, the older man decided to use the techniques he knew best. The child was treated with as much care and love as he gave to the dogs, and as a result, he became an unsocialized feral child. Perry came to his aid and immediately placed him under foster care, and after a few sessions, the Boy was rehabilitated

The other sad case involved the 21 Waco children that David Koresh had taught to distrust everyone outside the compound and, if faced with them, to commit suicide (Perry, & Szalavitz, 2017). They watched each other through preserving the evil culture, the only one they knew. They supported each other initially in a very harmful way, but later, this mutual support helped them in their expedition towards mental wellbeing.

The final chapter has a hopeful tone where Perry gives concrete initiatives towards reducing infancy trauma, at least for the present generation. He highlighted the disintegration of the extended family and increased social isolation as a result of social media and networks as the primary threat factors influencing vulnerability to childhood trauma. Therefore, picking up from neglect as well as traumatic incidences is a concern of reconnecting to people, establishing relationships, love, regaining self-confidence, and trust and rebuilding a sense of safety.

The author appreciates the fact that humaneness is acquired and never instinctive, that the means to healthy society and individuals is through establishing plentiful, secure connections and that we can only love ourselves once we are loved or have been loved by other people. Ideas applicable to any person at any stage of life are so pervasive throughout the narratives in each chapter, and the most reverberated is that except you are loved and have been loved, then you cannot love yourself. Perry insists that the ability to show affection and fondness to other people is never fabricated on loneliness.

In these brilliantly written, captivating accounts of working with traumatized children Perry educates readers about the effects of early life distress on brain development. He offers a vivid demonstration of the brain mechanisms and stress response with facts and imagery in the narratives. He explains that to facilitate complete recovery, the loss of control, and helplessness that a child felt during a particularly traumatic incident must be counteracted (Perry, & Szalavitz, 2017). Perry emphasizes that a traumatized child's brain can be reconstituted with repetitive, patterned experiences in a secure surrounding. Most importantly, since such trauma involves the shattering of human relationships, establishing caring and lasting connections to others are exceptional in traumatic healing as therapy and medications alone cannot do the job. Perry concludes that links are the agents of transformation and that current treatment is finding a lasting connection to love.


Perry, B. D., & Szalavitz, M. (2017). 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. Basic Books.

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Essay Example on the Boy Raised as a Dog: Traumatized Kids' Stories of Loss, Love, & Healing. (2023, Feb 20). Retrieved from

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