The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog

And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook

Child psychiatrist Bruce Perry details how early-life stress and violence afftects the developing brain. His discoveries contradict the precept that children are emotionally resilient and will outgrow insults to their psyches. On the contrary, he says, abuse can chemically alter early brain development, resulting later in the inability to make appropriate behavioral decisions. Perry makes a powerful case for early intervention for disruptive children to prevent adult sociopathy.

417 pages. ©2017.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted March 2, 2018


As a counselor this book fully encompassed the compassion and love that is needed to love and support a child effected by trauma. This book was engaging and kept my attention from start to finish. All the stories made me want to do more, act more, and love more.


Review posted February 27, 2018


It was a great book, I recommend it.


Review posted February 19, 2018


Excellent book, very informative. I would recommend to all who are interested in learning about the affects of trauma on human development.


Review posted February 14, 2018




Review posted February 12, 2018


Wow. Very helpful!


Review posted February 1, 2018


I found this very interesting as I was traumatized by watching my mom be abused by the various mentoring our life including my father for like the first 10 years of my life. Is interesting to find out about how my brain is not wired like not traumatized people and it explains a lot about how I react to different situations. I just wish the book had talked a little bit more about how the effects carry into your adult life.


Review posted January 22, 2018


An incredible book with amazing information.


Review posted January 18, 2018


Dr Perry's work has open the door for hundreds of children to be understood in a whole new way. HIs work is quite remarkable. Although the content can be difficult to read, the message and lessons that are taught through this book are important for the human condition.


Review posted January 1, 2018


Insightful and progressive. Certainly a must-read for all working in mental health and education.

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Review posted December 15, 2017


This is a must-read for everyone. Dr. Perry and Maia have a gift for translating technical and very important information into a readable format. This book provides tremendous insight into what could be troubling some of our youth today. More importantly, he gives some very simple solutions. Fascinating read. I couldn't put it down.


Review posted December 14, 2017


This book is amazing! I simply cannot find words to describe the effect this book has had both on how I approach my therapy business and how I deal with personal issues. Trauma-informed practice seems to be the most appropriate way to go!


Review posted December 12, 2017


This book was eloquently written and well organized. I enjoyed the timeline that Dr. Bruce D. Perry provided and the experiences they shared with the readers. As someone who is interested in social work, looking at the progress this field has made throughout the decades has been inspiring.


Review posted November 7, 2017


This book provided great insight for working with children from trauma backgrounds. I appreciate the honesty that the author demonstrated in the book.

Katrina Dean

Review posted October 26, 2017


I am a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for the Foster children in Lane County. I read "The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog," by Bruce Perry & Maia Szalavitz. The book was published in 2006, and most probably could add many scientific and case-specific updates today. Perry theorizes that early-childhood trauma affects the brain in chemical and neurological ways that lead to behaviors that are anti-social and clearly destructive. His clinical group, ChildTrauma Academy, works with hundreds of children whose behavior has been shaped by the hands of neglectful or abusive parents or caregivers. He gives 11 detailed case studies of children who were unable to function in a normal society, but who's history revealed early trauma. He then traces the changes in the brain development after such trauma, and how and why the brain changes as it does to counter the normal developmental process. Fortunately for us laymen, he does not talk "science-speak" but translates medical terms into easily understood stories of real lives. For many of these children, there is hope, as Perry begins to re-train the brain, and to encourage the brain to grow in areas of atrophy. It is fascinating stuff, and Perry never lost my attention. His cases were real, and his efforts were not always successful. Some kids had, indeed, been damaged beyond their ability to be restored. Most of those, sadly, are in prison today. Some kids adapted well enough to attend school, college, and live a normal life. Many fell somewhere in between those two extremes. But Perry proved that the emotional damage to the brain from early childhood trauma can be undone. This book goes much deeper that Foster Care, CASA, and DHS. But it is a must-read for those who see children and adults who seem to not "fit," to be "odd." Perry tell us why and advises us to look further into the history. They act the way they do because of the way they were treated as babies or toddlers. Once again we are warned to "choose kindness." Please, everyone, read this book!!!!

Dione Jordan

Review posted October 2, 2017


Amazing book, heart breaking but truely worth the read


Review posted September 26, 2017


This was a great read....sad....however a huge eye-opener


Review posted September 18, 2017


One of my favorite books from select books! Highly recommended to understand how trauma effects the developing brain and strategies to help individuals work through trauma. Great read.


Review posted September 13, 2017


Great read


Review posted August 22, 2017


This was a very disheartening book to read, but it is vital for those who work with children to understand the effects of trauma, as well as the profound resiliency of children. Thank you for providing this book.


Review posted August 16, 2017


This book was fascinating and heart-breaking at the same time. Our family is in the process of adopting through the Foster system and this book has been helpful to understand how neglect and trauma alter the brain (and that there can be successful outcomes). I definitely recommend this book to anyone who interacts (teachers, foster families, etc) with troubled children, it will give a glimpse at why they may be behaving in certain ways.


Review posted August 5, 2017


In this excellent book, Dr. Perry relates case histories from his practice with compassion and treats the people involved with dignity. He explains the effects of trauma on the brains of children at various developmental stages in an easy-to-comprehend way. He also offers hope for healing.


Review posted August 2, 2017


Heartwrenching but really informative

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Review posted July 24, 2017


Dr Perry not only shares the science of trauma in a digestible format but connects the dots between brain science and real life stories. This is a book well worth having on your bookshelf.


Review posted July 23, 2017


This book was a compelling look into the experiences of traumatized children. As a special education teacher, I believe it is a necessary read for all educators. The case studies provided a unique and individualized perspective, allowing the reader to gain a well-rounded view of the trauma and life experiences each child experienced. The author was able to effectively write about a difficult topic, while also adding in their heartfelt beliefs, intertwined with science. Ultimately it gives the reader practical knowledge which can be used in any practice that works with traumatized children.

Sheryl M

Review posted July 19, 2017


As a CASA advocate dealing with many children who have faced the same types of trauma in their lives of abuse and neglect, this book was amazing insight as to how the brain develops at different stages and making those connections to help those in care.


Review posted July 13, 2017


I find this book very interesting and would recommend it to my friends


Review posted June 24, 2017


I really enjoyed this book. I appreciate the variety of examples of how children are impacted by trauma, the different ways trauma manifests later on in years and the creative approaches to help with healing. I love the emphasis on human touch and emotion in the healing process and the idea that treatment is so much more than throwing medication at kids. This coming from a psychiatrist gave me a lot of hope. I also felt some closure with the fact that many of the youth checked back in later in life, reporting that they were doing well. So rarely do we, as treatment providers get that feedback. Overall, I recommend the book for those working with trauma impacted people.


Review posted June 20, 2017


Extremely eye opening.


Review posted June 18, 2017


All children are different and there is no one size fits all parenting guide out there, but there are studies and evidence on how life experiences and stresses can impact a child’s developing brain. Dr. Perry’s personal and professional glimpse of trauma, whether it be physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect, may be a difficult read for some, but a necessity for those who work in the field. His text serves as an experiential account of how a child’s brain has a balance that can be chemically and progressively altered without proper care and parenting. He brings back flashes of undergraduate studies, including the star-studded authoritative parenting style and concern with the intermittent style of parenting. As well as John Bowlby and his studies on attachment with monkeys. To start, recovery starts with rebuilding safe and loving relationships in and out of therapy. Social learning theory… it is more than just a theory. I recommend this book.


Review posted June 13, 2017


This book was a great read! Very interesting and taught me a lot about the mind!


Review posted June 6, 2017


Very fascinating and interesting! This book describes how early life stresses and violence can do terrible things to a developing mind. One can agree that we should consider the child's family dynamics as a whole before really understanding the child's problems. MZamarripa RMA, Care Coordinator, CHW


Review posted June 1, 2017


Remarkable book. Dr. Perry offers such great insight into the brains of traumatized and neglected children. It really was fascinating and I read it quickly because I was so enthralled with the methods and ways he treated the children and was able to clearly see what they needed. It's a keeper for sure.


Review posted May 30, 2017


This an amazing book! I highly recommend this to anyone who works with children. It does a great job explaining long-term results adverse childhood . It is a well-written for anyone to read and understand!


Review posted May 26, 2017


This was an excellent book about childhood trauma and the effect on people's lives. Although it explained some of the scientific research behind this, it was also very readable and I believe most people would learn from the book. It was so helpful to me that I have now signed up for a Certification course on Trauma informed care


Review posted May 24, 2017


I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It explains the author's ideas about how childhood trauma shapes the brain through moving case studies. In addition, it chronicles his own evolution of thought in understanding effective childhood psychiatry. The callousness of some earlier approaches to childhood trauma is disturbing reading at times. Dr. Perry was called to minister to children involved in key news stories so he provided a new perspective on those events.

Carla Perry

Review posted May 18, 2017


I selected this book to learn more about my own brain development. I was raised in what looked like a "normal" family but the high level of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and dysfunction resulted in behaviors similar to those explained in Dr. Perry's book. For instance, the inability to speak in whole words well into high school, although I had no problem comprehending what others said. Zero class participation. Dissociation during beatings and stressful situations. Using a repetitive special hair tug to cause a lightning bolt spasm that began in my skull but shocked my entire body into numb paralysis. I'd do that over and over as delicious relief, but it left me exhausted. I had a very alert startle reflex. I was fractured into two parts--the outside me got me through life in the "real" world; the inner me huddled deep inside, frightened, hiding. The outer and the inner parts never communicated, never acknowledged the other was there. They ignored each other and I got by. Crying was my normal response whenever anyone, including strangers, spoke to me directly. What saved me? A personal relationship outside my home starting when I was 15 years old and enrolled at the High School of Music & Art in New York. A boy, for some obscure reason, fell in love with the silent, crying girl and paid attention to me. He helped me practice words until I could speak in sentences. He was gentle and protective and caring. It was a marvelous 2.5 years -- until I escaped NYC to go to college at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. I had to leave that boy, which broke his heart. I've carried his love with me all my life. He occasionally still visits me in dreams. Like an angel, he saved my life. He says I saved his. I think we saved each other. A few years ago, I wrote a novel about that life, as a love letter to him. The book is called, "Riva Beside Me." I helped adapt it to a stage play at the urging of the director and producer. There was a full production (5 teenagers & 3 adults in cast) in March & April of this year at the Newport Performing Arts Center. A video (produced using 2 to 3 cameras at five of the shows) will be sent to all Lincoln County high schools and our community college, as well as to county agencies that deal with kids who have been abused or neglected. Reading Dr. Perry's book was powerful for me because it validated how resourceful a child can be, how resourceful I was, developing marvelously effective coping mechanisms in order to survive. But, he's right, it takes human relationship to humanize the surviving creature.

Toby Abraham-Rhine

Review posted May 17, 2017


Grab your highlighter and dive into this gripping collection of true stories by Dr. Bruce Perry, child trauma expert. A must-read for anyone working with children, it should be required for all counselors, teachers and school staff. Dr. Perry presents facts and theory in a manner accessible to everyone while challenging myths and misconceptions on how to help traumatized children. The only disappointment is that there are no easy answers or protocols. He shows us that each case is so individualized, but an overall theme does exist to guide us in our healing of children and adults alike. If you care about children, please read and share this book.


Review posted May 13, 2017


This book was exceptional- a must read for anyone working with children, in social justice, or are interested in empathy and the human experience. Dr. Perry tells the story of amazing children who have helped shed light on the neurological affects of trauma, while tying in the issues with our social construct, and provides suitable treatment strategies. Its a heartfelt book that I couldn't put down and could easily influence aspects of your daily life.

Nora Harrison

Review posted May 2, 2017


I sat down to read a couple of chapters and nearly finished it in one reading. It's that compelling. The author tells true (and often heartbreaking) stories to bring his research to life. Highly recommended.


Review posted April 25, 2017


Insightful and encouraging once you get past being upset with our system. We are so quick to place a title on a child/person and declare it done. When we make the time to act with empathy, compassion, and patience it is amazing the outcomes which are possible. The brain is an incredible mechanism with so many intricacies. I suspect we'll be forever learning new ways to understand what makes the brain function as it does and way to nurture and manipulate the healing processes which are possible when dealing with the circumstance which interrupts a normal brain function. An interesting read and one which opens your eyes to possibilities where you might otherwise feel there are none.


Review posted April 24, 2017


This book is heart breaking but the brain science is fascinating! I will be taking things from this book and putting them into my school counseling practice! It's incredible and I recommend that EVERYONE who works with kids, in any setting, take the time to read it!


Review posted April 19, 2017


Thought provoking! Interesting to learn the different elements that each of us have that shape the way we see and react to any given situation. No wonder there are so many different opinions on how to accomplish any act.

Lori Harch

Review posted April 18, 2017


This book is written in an engaging but informative manner, and it helped me to better understand many of the troubled youth in our community. I would urge anyone in the education or childcare business--or anyone who comes into contact with youth--to read this book.

Susan Baldwin

Review posted April 12, 2017


Children's unbelievable circumstances seem like fictional accounts until it sinks in that Dr. Perry beautiful prose isn't fiction but real-life accounts. Neuroscience is a fascinating study and will hopefully/eventually lead to abused/neglected children's more complete emotional healing . In the meantime reading The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog is a crucial first step for non-professionals' better understanding of brain function. Put this book on your Top Ten Best Reads!


Review posted April 11, 2017


this was a very emotionally insightful book for me. as a survivor of abuse and trauma, the subject matter sent me reeling a bit - but the outcome and information displayed was invaluable.


Review posted April 6, 2017


Wow this book is very interesting. Some of it isn't new to me as I studied psychology and am a Victims Advocate, but I'm definitely still learning a lot from the author. I'm not finished with the book yet, but once I am, I plan to pass it on to coworkers because I think it's a beneficial to read for people of all professions who work with children and/or adult survivors of child abuse.


Review posted March 15, 2017


interesting book..makes you think!


Review posted January 21, 2017


In this well-written, fascinating book, Dr. Perry shares his experiences working with emotionally stunted and traumatized children, educating readers about how early-life stress and violence affects the developing brain. Perry provides a simplified illustration of the brain's stress response system. He emphasizes that the brain of a traumatized child can be remolded with patterned, repetitive experiences in a safe environment. His stories exhibit compassion and hope, as he shares the often painful details of patients who have experienced violence, sexual abuse and neglect, and the systems that have failed them. He reminds us through comparisons of different case studies, that though many critically traumatized children can be helped, the earlier the intervention, the better the chance of the patient growing up to have a full and productive life. Additionally, a complete family history is necessary to know when and for how long the trauma occurred, in order to meet the missed stage in brain development. Perry's unconventional and humane approach to childhood trauma and it's affects has clear ramifications for how we can look at behavioral health and wellness.


Review posted December 30, 2016


Wow. This book brings understanding to consistent, universal experiences with "difficult" patients, or people in general. While the people highlighted in this book represent some extreme circumstances, the concepts and underlying information presented is quite applicable to everyday interactions.


Review posted December 5, 2016


I gave this book to a friend to read as well, so much insight into trauma related situations and what that can look like in a child. It's not always just about the behaviors.


Review posted October 31, 2016


This book was beautifully written! Very informative! I recommend this book to anyone who works with children that have been hurt.


Review posted October 8, 2016


I am a foster mother and have been for 50 years. The book was very good and right on the mark I believe. I would recommend this to any person working with children wither they have had a troubled past of not. Thank you for offering this book to read


Review posted August 3, 2016


At times this book was devastatingly difficult to read; and then it would suddenly buoy me up on waves of hope and opportunity. I learned much about the science of the early (age 0 - 2) human brain and how it develops. The book is perfect for the lay person; each chapter develops the information a little bit more and presents an appropriate case study. By the end the author is tying everything together and reinforcing what you know. Then, the challenge of what we can do in our communities to help ensure all children get the best start in life possible. It's forward looking and both easier and more challenging that you might imagine. This book belongs everywhere because all of us need to care about the children and their parents.


Review posted July 29, 2016


As disturbing as the case studies were, I could not put this book down. It was very well written, and did well to describe the care plan for the children I a clear and concise manner.


Review posted July 12, 2016


An absolutely remarkable book about childhood trauma and healing. The stories that illustrate the context of the book are heartrending, and the authors write without muddling down in jargon, science, or technical terminology. An excellent book.


Review posted July 9, 2016


Outstanding Book!! Offers reasons for behaviors other than the "obvious"= easiest. Gentle ways to make a difference


Review posted June 27, 2016


An extremely powerful read. I recommend it for all mental health clinicians, teachers, and therapists. "Relationships matter: the currency for systemic change was trust, and trust comes through forming healthy working relationships. People, not programs, change people" (p. 80). It is a wonderful guide to thinking about how our relationships impact those around us.

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Review posted June 19, 2016


Dr. Bruce Perry amazes me again with his valuable work! The real life stories are heartbreaking, yet eye-opening.

Review posted May 30, 2016


"The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog" have taught me a lot of how we raise kids is affecting our society. We need to dedicate time and provide a lot of love to our kids for them to be good human beings and provide to our society. Most of the examples provided in the book are from children who suffered in one way or another some form of abuse or care and love was neglected. Some parents create unnecessary traumas to their kids because of the ignorance of lack of knowledge about how the brain works. After reading this book I am more aware of how the brain works and what we need to do to raise healthy kids. I will not make some of the mistakes described in the book. Thank you for providing me this education. I will also communicate all my learning to my friends and family members who have kids.


Review posted May 29, 2016


I've been looking forward to reading this book since I read the description on this site. I work as an advocate for a domestic violence agency, and while my clients are adults, I've always had a deep interest in the affects of trauma on children. Within the advocacy world, there's been a rising focus on the neurobiology of trauma, the effects of trauma, "trauma brain", etc. Sometimes I struggle with the way it is presented in trainings and conferences. Even as a lay person, neurobiology seems far more complex than a 30-minute module can possibly satisfy, and I wonder if over-simplifying can do more harm than good, deputizing people without any real psychiatric experience (a group of which I count myself) to diagnose trauma in their work with vulnerable people. That is one of the reasons Dr. Perry's work, and his writing here, are so fascinating. There's such focus on the complexities of the brain, how it develops, what is impacted by early trauma, but also the unknowables of the brain even today. It's an accessible discussion on neurobiology, but it also lays out the extreme complexities, even as it's accessible. But the best part is the sensitivity and compassion with which that the case studies are presented. I am always leery of descriptions of extreme abuse that often turn lurid and detailed, because that's what draws people in. The descriptions of the children in this book were straightforward and gave enough detail to understand the basics of the case, but didn't dwell on the horrific details. Instead, the focus was always on how the case study illustrated a larger truth about trauma and biology and the brain, making it a "teachable moment" without minimizing the abuse itself. Several cases, such as the child from the Russian orphanage and the boy who saved himself and his siblings from a mother with Manchausen's by Proxy Syndrome, had me in tears just by virtue of how compassionate and resilient the children were, and the people who loved them had to be. That's what made a book filled with subject matter that might otherwise have been too draining to get through, bearable. The underlying hope and optimism for humanity that Perry clearly has, regardless of all the cases of abuse he has witnessed throughout his career. The focus is not on darkness, but on the capacity for humans to heal and triumph.

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Review posted May 23, 2016


Books describing clinicians' work with kids who've grown up in especially challenging circumstances tend toward extolling the virtues of a particular approach to therapy as a means to redeem any child, regardless or experience, ability, or the skills of a given practitioner. This book is a little more circumspect, exploring both the author's evolution and the differences between the circumstances of therapy. While each chapter does have pretty much the same narrative arc as the last, the stories, physiological underpinnings, and psychosocial explanations come through are still compelling. This could be a useful book for professionals, volunteers, or foster parents who feel stuck in a given approach!


Review posted April 23, 2016


Insightful. I hope this will help me heal myself and others.

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Review posted April 10, 2016


A fascinating read that reminds us how much of children's "bad" behavior is learned responses to dealing with trauma. Insightful without being preachy.