Book Review: Ghosts From the Nursery

by Kimberly on August 13, 2009 · 2 comments

Spectacles and BookI have a confession – I actually wrote this book review about a year ago for the biannual newsletter of the Colorado Association for Music Therapy (or CAMT). But, the book had such an effect on me and my practice that I wanted to share it with you. So…here you go:

Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence
by Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley
Review by Kimberly Sena Moore

I read Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence while pregnant with my first child. Given that the book explains the origins of violent behavior, this may not have been the best timing and may explain why it took me so long to finish. Through the life stories of brothers Jeffrey and John, authors Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith Wiley take the reader on a research-filled journey that shows how prenatal and early infant experiences can have pervasive, lifelong effects on a person’s ability to learn, form meaningful relationships with others, and be emotionally stable.

Jeffrey and John had similar upbringings – family drug and alcohol abuse, early medical problems, victims of emotional and physical abuse, witnesses of domestic violence, multiple foster home placements, and an unstable upbringing. Yet their lives were very different. At sixteen years of age, Jeffrey was arrested for robbery and murder, found guilty and sentenced to death. John, partly from his natural temperament and partly from being in a loving, functional foster family, turned into a capable adult.

Each chapter begins with narratives from the brothers, plus police reports, psychological evaluations, and other material necessary to highlight the main points of the chapter. Karr-Morse and Wiley covered a variety of topics, from the developmental impact of malnutrition and early drug exposure, to the detrimental effects of abuse and neglect, to the role personality plays in development. This book also addresses ADHD, head injuries, and how violence affects all of us on a greater, societal scale.

Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence is filled with compelling neuroscientific research that highlights how prenatal and early childhood experiences (e.g. defined as age 0-2) have a dramatic, lifelong impact on a person. These experiences affect a person’s cognitive development, ability to develop trust and empathy, and moral conscience. These skills are necessary to a person to be able to learn, to develop stable relationships, and to form emotional attachments with others.

The research is complex, but the authors do a wonderful job of presenting the information in a clear, easy-to-read format. They use plenty of stories and real-life examples to highlight their points, yet manage to convey all the necessary scientific facts. This was a hard book to read as a pregnant woman, but essential. This book will affect and inform any person who works in a helping profession.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Hannah Hall May 5, 2010 at 2:21 pm

it is quite difficult to recover from Alcohol Abuse because alcohol is also very addictive just like Cigarettes and drugs.:**

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