Published on March 11th, 2021 | by Chris O'Connor
You’re not broken Book Review
Summary: Dr Woodhouse explores trauma and how we can "Break free from" it.
I’m going to do my pretext here. My wife suffers from PTSD, depression, anxiety and related issues stemming from childhood sexual abuse. This will be relevant later.
You’re not broken: Break free from trauma & reclaim your life is Dr Sarah Woodhouse’s guide to identifying our past traumas and learning how to deal with them in order to go on and have a fulfilling life.
I kind of have issues with this book. I originally put my hand up to review it as I thought maybe there would be information in here to help my wife… that was quickly nullified both by my wife (who said she would probably be defensive reading it) and (in an aspect I did appreciate) Dr Woodhouse herself points out that if you have severe trauma that this book is not what you should rely on, you should really be seeing a professional in a one on one environment. But then the question left was, “if this isn’t for people who have suffered major trauma, then who is it for?” That’s where it can be a little confusing.
The back cover of the book states “In one way or another, we all carry trauma.” Which is true and I like that quite early on in the book Dr Woodhouse points out that anything can be a trauma… what makes something a trauma is our experience of it/reaction to it. This is an important note because what is traumatic to one person is insignificant to another. But what gets a bit tricky is determining what “level” of trauma this book is aimed at… the back page continues in a way that almost seems to imply that even the smallest trauma is holding us back and therefor this book can help us get past the effects of that trauma. I’m not sure that’s a reasonable impression to give (but perhaps I’m reading more into the wording than intended).
With such a start to the book, I felt that maybe I should try and think back in my life to figure out if and when I had traumatic events that might be holding me back (I do have a number of “issues” that I would be quite happy to address, things like sporadic motivation, social anxiety etc)… but try as I might… I couldn’t find anything that seemed to be having a lasting effect on me. That’s not to say I don’t remember points in my past that were traumatic… I do… but I don’t feel any of them have lingered in a way that this book seems to suggest they could.
All of that being said… I’m not saying this book can’t help some people with their trauma… but I am saying I think there will be a number of people who will perhaps be disappointed in what they end up getting out of this book. I will also acknowledge that I was “put on alert” when I read mentions of Dr. Phil and Oprah as these are two people who I tend to think of as “sensationalists” and superficial in their presentation of things… this concern was further compounded when I looked at Dr Woodhouse’s webpage and found the statement “I love yoga, reading teenage vampire novels, Mexican food and all things woo-woo and spiritual.” The last part of that statement is where I have real issues “all things woo-woo” (the and spiritual part is a bit of a grey area as spirituality can have it’s own meaning to each individual, though personally I think nihilism can be just as reassuring as spirituality in that you no longer have to find meaning in why things happened etc). Woo-woo stuff (to me at least) is things like people being against vaccinations, or people selling candles that smell like their vaginas… you know, charlatan snake oil stuff.
There are likely plenty of people for whom this book will help feel better about themselves, but I do feel that there are also plenty of people who might buy this book expecting to get some real personal growth and finding that they get nothing from it. The writing is accepting enough in appreciating that everyone is different, but it is also perhaps a bit too vague to be of any real use. Personally I can’t really recommend you’re not broken, but maybe it’s the sort of thing you will resonate with?