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.

288 pages. ©2007.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


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.