Books for Understanding Trauma/ C-PTSD

Alongside Trauma Book Recommendations for Understanding Trauma

Jessica del Rosso, MSW, RSW

Alongsidetrauma.ca

The following blog provides a summary of books I have found valuable in understanding trauma and complex-PTSD. As I continue to grow my library, I will update the blog with additional reads! Enjoy!


The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.


This book explains how trauma impacts and “gets stuck in” the physical body. Often times, survivors have learned how to verbalize their trauma, but still find themselves struggling with physical trauma reactions. The Body Keeps the Score explains trauma in a practical and useful way for survivors who are wanting to better understand their relationship to their physical body. This book also discusses the biological and developmental components of trauma. It provides evidence to support the fight/flight and shutdown responses of the Autonomic Nervous System which is a key player in responses to trauma.

The Polyvagal Theory by Deb Dana and Stephen W. Porges


The Polyvagal Theory, is a great place to start with understanding the Autonomic Nervous System and its response to trauma. It explains the main states of the nervous system under stress (Fight, Flight, Shutdown and Freeze) and the Polyvagal Ladder. It also discusses mixed states such as play and stillness. It is written in an easy to understand and practical way, offering depersonalizing and shame shedding information to the reader by explaining the ways in which the body and mind respond to trauma that are instinctual and primitive rather than intentional.

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate


Dr. Gabor Mate is an addiction and trauma expert. There is valuable information throughout this book about the causes of addiction, attachment, ADHD and trauma. Dr. Gabor Mate eliminates all blame and shame in his writing and views addiction as an attempt to cope with stressors and trauma, as opposed to a fault of the individual struggling with the addiction.

Clementine Morrigan zines and books

Clementine Morrigan is a trauma survivor who writes unapologetically about sexual abuse, PTSD, trauma, polyamory, sexuality, sexual exploration, Polyvagal Theory and trauma healing. She is honest, raw and relatable. I find her writing validating, freeing and expressive.

It Didn’t Start with You by Mark Wolynn

Although this book may seem a bit “out there”, the evidence to prove the development of epigenetics provides a non-blaming explanation for why we may have trauma reactions, addictions or illnesses we cannot connect to personal traumatic experiences. Mark Wolynn discusses and explains how historical familial traumas alter our genetic makeup and how this can lead to us experiencing symptoms of residual trauma in the current day.

Trauma and Recovery by Judith Lewis Herman. M.D.

Judith Lewis discusses the impact of trauma both physically and mentally. There is validating and evidence-based information she shares which can lead to a deeper understanding of trauma through a self-compassionate lens.

To-Read list

The following are books I have not completed or read as of yet. They are books that have been recommended to me or have caught my eye. I will write another blog post on these reads once I have completed them.

  • Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

  • Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker

  • Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson

  • Lost Connections by Johann Hari



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