cover image INVISIBLE HEROES: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal

INVISIBLE HEROES: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal

Belleruth Naparstek, , foreword by Robert C. Scaer, M.D. . Bantam, $25 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-553-80350-1

In the wake of 9/11, there was much media coverage of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD—the long-term stress response whose symptoms include chronic pain, nightmares and panic attacks—and how to treat it. Naparstek, a therapist for more than 30 years, is an advocate of guided imagery, as opposed to talk therapy, and in this book she uses case histories to illustrate how it works; she also looks at recent research on the brain that shows why this method is effective and offers step-by-step instructions on using guided imagery, which she defines as "deliberate, directed daydreaming," for healing trauma. According to Naparstek, trauma damages the left brain, which is language oriented, and talking about the trauma can actually worsen symptoms. Imagery, on the other hand affects the right brain, the seat of the emotions. Guided imagery is "fast, powerful, costs little or nothing," says the author; it can be done alone or in groups, with the help of tapes that walk the stress victim through the process of finding images that help heal the trauma. Clinicians will find the entire book useful; people seeking help may not need explanations of the biochemical processes underlying PTSD, but will respond to Napartek's passionate advocacy of a simple, gentle healing method. (Aug.)