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Book Review - Traumatic Relationships and Serious Mental Disorders
Traumatic Relationships and Serious Mental Disorders
by Jon G. Allen
John Wiley, 2001
Review by Corinne Secrest Goodwin, MSW, MA
Jul 3rd 2002

Allen offers a comprehensive treatise of the traumatic experience and its impact on human psyche and behavior.  He examines the nature of trauma in clinical terms with particular attention to the effect of traumatic experiences at all phases of human development.  He appropriately incorporates the known literature regarding the impact of trauma and its link with the nature and surrounding circumstances of any given traumatic incident.  By attempting to objectively define the concept of trauma and its role within the human experience, Allen cites scions of the posttraumatic literature, such as McFarlane and Yehuda.  His exploration of this arena appears well-founded and carefully referenced.  His reference to other established experts in the field of trauma, such as van der Kolk, appears judiciously done with clear conclusions drawn for the less experienced reader. His own conclusions, while true, are less than demanding positions for the critical reader well-versed in this area of study. 

Yet, whether one is a die-hard behaviorist or a longstanding analyst, Allen’s work presents a nice summation of trauma as an entity and uniquely emphasizes the concept of trauma as a relational concept.  He identifies the relationship of trauma as an experience both within and between humans across the lifespan.  In doing so, he addresses the concept of trauma ranging from traumatic developmental experiences to abusive relationships.  He provides nodding attention to more global experiences of trauma such as natural disasters and terrorism.  In addition, and perhaps most significantly, he provides a detailed review of psychopathology in relationship to trauma with attention to both assessment and intervention.  This aspect of Allen’s book is both detailed and highly representative of the existent literature in this field.  By far the strongest aspect of Allen’s text, his approach to diagnostics, treatment and management is extremely well-organized for any seeking clinician.  His attention to the diverse clinical presentations which are associated with traumatic exposure, however, provides a powerful resource for any reader. His equally careful examination of comorbid presentations and techniques for treating trauma-related disorders yields an equally useful reservoir of known and burgeoning knowledge about this area of study.  Overall, this text provides the budding researcher and the seasoned clinician with a carefully constructed vision of existent trauma literature and those areas that invite further examination.      


© 2002 Corinne Secrest Goodwin


Corinne Secrest Goodwin, MSW, MA is a graduate with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Alabama, and The Fielding Institute.  She is a psychotherapist with ten years experience and has worked outpatient mental health, private psychiatric hospitals, state psychiatric facilities, psychiatric emergency, substance abuse service and residential care for the dually diagnosed.  Her clinical emphasis primarily lies in the area of comorbid medical presentations, posttraumatic stress, and clinical supervision.  She is currently in the last year of completing her doctorate in Clinical Psychology with an internship in Neuropsychology.