Adverse childhood experiences—like abuse, neglect, parental addiction, mental illness, and divorce—can have lasting effects on human health. But the stunning news of Nadine Burke Harris’s research is how, and how deeply, our bodies can be changed, imprinted for life by these ACEs. From stress responses to growth rates to diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and more, we are all a product of our childhood environments.
Through powerful storytelling and fascinating scientific insight, Burke Harris illuminates her journey of discovery, from research labs nationwide to her own pediatric practice in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. For anyone who has faced a difficult childhood, or who cares about the millions of children who do, the innovative and acclaimed health interventions outlined in The Deepest Well represent vitally important hope for preventing lifelong illness for those we love and for generations to come.
“A heartbreaking, world-shaking, revolutionary book. In The Deepest Well, Nadine Burke Harris uncovers the once-hidden story of why we are the way we are. And she offers a new set of tools, based in science, that can help each of us heal ourselves, our children, and our world.” — Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed
“This ultra-smart and compassionate book delivers revelations about what is really going on—in our bodies, in our families, in our communities—as a result of childhood toxic stress, as well as targeted solutions for individual healing. My adverse childhood experience (ACE) test result is a nine out of ten. When I needed it, one person extended the hand of hope and help to me. It saved me. This book has the power to extend that hand to countless others.” — Ashley Judd, author of All That Is Bitter and Sweet
"The Deepest Well is a rousing wake-up call, challenging us to reimagine pressing questions of racial and social justice as matters of public health. The research and stories shared in this highly engaging, provocative book prove beyond a reasonable doubt that millions of lives depend on us finally coming to terms with the long-term consequences of childhood adversity and toxic stress.” — Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
“The Deepest Well is a heartbreaking, beautiful book about what might be the most important single issue facing our country's disadvantaged populations: the prevalence of childhood trauma. Relying on her work as a compassionate physician and first-class scientist, Burke Harris weaves together groundbreaking research with touching personal stories. The result is a gripping book that should convince everyone that we have a serious problem, and that unless we address it, the losers will be our nation's children.” — J. D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy
“This powerful book brilliantly exposes and explores one of the most critical health issues we face today. Dr. Burke Harris combines a scientist's rigor with a compassionate doctor's heart to paint an unforgettable picture of what is at the center of what ails so many of our communities. Anyone who cares about people who sometimes struggle should read this book.” — Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy
"A pediatrician's battle against the toxic effects of childhood adversity. In 2007, after opening a community clinic in a low-income neighborhood of San Francisco, Harris soon suspected that an underlying medical issue must be at work in the lives of many of her patients, who often experienced both poor health outcomes (asthma, slow growth, etc.) and the overwhelming adversity of trauma (parental incarcerations, abuse, foster-care placements, etc.). What was the connection? She found her answer several years later in a medical article that changed her medical practice, 'The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study,' in which scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente described the strong relationship between childhood trauma and many leading causes of death in adults.In this powerful debut, the author describes the medical research and recalls her own frontline experiences as a pioneer in the treatment of toxic stressas CEO of San Francisco's Center for Youth Wellness, which offers multidisciplinary care for children suffering from trauma. 'The body remembers,' she writes. 'Twenty years of medical research has shown that childhood adversity literally gets under our skin, changing people in ways that can endure in their bodies for decades.' Indeed, adversity 'can dramatically increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes—even Alzheimer's.' In a winning conversational style, Harris explains how adversity 'harms development and regulation of the immune system throughout someone's life' and the ways in which doctors now screen for and treat childhood trauma—sleep, mental health, healthy relationships, exercise, nutrition, and meditation.She notes that adverse childhood experiences affect people of all socioeconomic levels (they are often disguised out of secrecy and shame), and their harmful effects can be passed on from one generation to another. The author's work has won wide attention through aNew Yorker article and a TED talk. This important and compassionate book further sounds the alarm over childhood trauma—and what can be done to remedy its effects." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
About the Author:
Nadine Burke Harris, M.D., is founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point. She is the subject of a New Yorker profile and was the recent recipient of a prestigious Heinz Award in 2016, among many other honors. Her TED talk, “I Was Thinking Too Small,” previewed the subject of The Deepest Well, her first book. She lives in San Francisco, California.