#Review of Boris Cyrulnik #book about #hope #resilience and the history of modern #psychiatry

#Review of Boris Cyrulnik #book about #hope #resilience and the history of modern #psychiatry

First as a disclaimer my friend my sister, I have to mention that you will love the book Les âmes blessées or the wounded souls if you are passionate about medicine. Personally, I have sometimes been a bit troubled by the description of some surgeries!

On a general level, this book is amazing for people who are interested in the history of psychiatry in France, in the psychiatrists who really marked their time and in the gradual discovery and use of antidepressants.

On that topic by the the way, Boris Cyrulnik writes that psychotropic drugs alleviate the pain but do not resolve the psychological issue underneath.

Here are ten key ideas or pearls of wisdom that I want to share with you from the book Les âmes blessées or the wounded souls by Boris Cyrulnik. Translations from French to English are mine. Boris Cyrulnik has written a book in English entitled Resilience.

1. How to fathom ultimate evil or how becoming psychiatrist helps to overcome it

Boris Cyrulnik was a child during Second World War and his family has been sent to concentration camps.

He has been witnessed to the worst of humankind. Moreover, he writes that it was so difficult to understand how some people are genuinely kind to you but can totally turned into the opposite the next day.

For instance, he recalls how some French policemen were friend with one family of the neighborhood. However, one day, the policemen came to arrest and deport their friend, the father of the family with which they spend dinners and evenings as friends.

Boris Cyrulnik became a psychiatrist to try to get his head around such deeply wounding events.

2. About not following the crowd and news ideas in science and elsewhere

If we start from the idea that “theoretical choices are influenced by (…) life experiences“, therefore, those who look for something already influence the result they are going to find. Doesn’t it remind you of quantum physics my friend my sister?

Thus, a big part of the book is dedicated to the scientific world and how researchers do not choose their subjects by chance. Boris Cyrulnik also recall how it was sometimes difficult for thinkers to share new ideas without being rejected.

The author of the book writes:

Woe to he who does not think like everybody else, he will be seen as an aggressor“.

Boris Cyrulnik, Les âmes blessées

For instance, the idea of all human beings are truly equals and therefore, children born outside of wedlock should not be ostracized, was not accepted easily. Also, incest was not recognized as a reality by professionals even during the 80s in France.

Reading this makes me aware of how far we have come when it comes to mentality.

3. What is “neuro-emotional vulnerability”?

#Review of Boris Cyrulnik #book about #hope #resilience and the history of modern #psychiatry

One key concept of the book is called “neuro-emotional vulnerability” which means that a child whose sense of safety has been hurt during childhood by an accident of life will have far more difficulties to overcome hardships when he is a teenager.


A same event, traumatizing for one, will be for another a mere exciting adventure of life“.

Boris Cyrulnik, Les âmes blessées

Why? Because “A person who has been prematurely isolated, because of an accident of life, acquires a neuro-emotional vulnarability” which makes her prone to feeling abandoned when years later she suffers from isolation or aggression.

This is what is described by the author as the “surprising inequality of traumas“.

4. Why is excessive alertness an issue?

Alertness is a normal state of being which prepares the body to defend itself. However, if alertness is an almost constant state, it is tiring to the person and actually hinders how a child learns.

I link that to a high dosage of cortisol within the body when we are under stress. Today I really make a point at lowering my stress triggers and putting my body in a calmer state. Meditation is a great help my friend my sister.

5. Where we talk alchemy again

#Review of Boris Cyrulnik #book about #hope #resilience and the history of modern #psychiatry

Boris Cyrulnik writes:

Can the events we suffered mold our soul and orient our intellectual path towards the resolution of the issue to which our existence made us sensitive?

Boris Cyrulnik, Les âmes blessées

To me this is what alchemy is all about. The hurt we felt in the past can be turned into a magnificent transmission to help others who face similar challenges in their lives.

6. An acknowledgement of the progress made in terms of patriarchy

I was shocked my friend my sister when I read how Boris Cyrulnik recalls how pain was dealt with during childbirth right in the 20th century.

When techniques were introduced to lower the pain of mothers giving birth, some professional reacted vehemently arguing that a woman who does not suffer during childbirth cannot love her baby.

The author of the book writes:

For centuries, one theory stated that women were not bringing anything to the making of a baby. They were only carrying the baby that a man had planted into their belly“.

Boris Cyrulnik, Les âmes blessées

I know we still have progress to make to overcome patriarchy, but woman, do we come a long way!

7. Of the importance of the environment on the brain development

Boris Cyrulnik writes:

Neurosciences made photos proving that some newborns, prematurely isolated, have a frontal lobe which seems atrophied. The synapses development in that brain area has not been stimulated by the environment“.

Boris Cyrulnik, Les âmes blessées

That quote made me immediately think of a great book called Why Love Matters (How affection shapes a baby’s brain) by researcher Sue Gerhardt. Early interactions are crucial to brain development and cognitive functions.

Consequently, it is easy to imagine the developmental damage cause by affection deficiencies and the author of the book describes numerous examples of that.

8. What is Resilience?

Boris Cyrulnik coined the term and has even written a book about it translated in English: Resilience: How Your Inner Strength Can Set You Free from the Past:

Resilience is this decision to try to feel alive again despite what happened to us. The opposite? A large variety of post-traumatic syndromes.

Boris Cyrulnik writes:

“How is it possible that some children pull trough and become fulfilled adults, whereas in all logic, they should have been definitely crushed?

Boris Cyrulnik, Les âmes blessées

Such a revolutionary interrogation, supported by the research to which the author dedicated his career, is the best message of hope from Boris Cyrulnik.

9. Believing in another person more that she believes in herself

The best gift I received in my life was when some people chose to genuinely believe in me more than I believed in me. This is what helped me to overcome adversity and rebuild my life, instead of getting stuck in victim mode.

These angelic people who believe in us more than ourselves can be teachers or friends. Boris Cyrulnik recalls in his book how some adults came to express their immense gratitude to the psychiatrist Myriam David, who searched for a way to repair the connection damaged during childhood by not considering the teenager as “doomed, worrying and without a future“.

The author of the book The wounded souls reaches this surprising conclusion according to which:

Globally, a population of wounded children who are backed by a new support system evolves almost as well as a population of children well surrounded by their family, their neighborhood, their school and their culture“.

Boris Cyrulnik, Les âmes blessées

There is a great place in France where children and teenagers are being treated in such a respectful way. It is called “La Maison d’enfants Elie Wiesel“. By the way, I will donate to them.

10. Of the importance of art to recover from the wounds of our soul

I really beleve that you can write and rewrite your life my friend my sister.

Thus, the title of chapter 3 of the book is:

Your story is not your destiny

Boris Cyrulnik, Les âmes blessées

Enough said!

We can create our life anew, inasmuch as we make sure we are well surrounded and supported, by the environment and the people we allow in our inner circle.

Let’s remind ourselves my friend my sister that nothing is set for ever when it comes to the brain. Boris Cyrulnik writes that:

The clinical signs which were told to us at the university were not inherent to the subject. They were the result of a transaction between what the subject is and what is around him. Could we be without a world? Change the context, and you will change the expression of what you are.

Boris Cyrulnik, Les âmes blessées

Consequently, depression would not be expressed in the same manner according to the context in which a person is immersed. It is not inherent ot the person.

Moreover, genetics now proves that it is not an inexorable fate inasmuch as the environment modifies the expression of such hereditary code all the time.

Even better, the brain “flabbergasted by a trauma, can function again as soon as the person with a wounded soul is secured” explains Boris Cyrulnik in his book.

So, what is a better way than art to renew with vitality? Art like an outlet, art which transforms experiences and transforms us my friend my sister.

Boris Cyrulnik writes:

[A]rt changes the representation of the wounded soul. The subject is no longer prisoner of his traumatic past (…) He is not a thing carried away by the torrent of unhappiness (…) He becomes a subject again, an author“.

Boris Cyrulnik, Les âmes blessées

May we become author of our life my friend my sister.

What do you think my friend my sister?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.