[saymaListserv] FW: Life-changing book in stores now

Red & Deanna reddeanna at charter.net
Fri Jan 2 15:27:38 JEST 2004

Dear Friends,

    I found a third review of Weingarten's Common Shock.  It's below.


Deanna Nipp
O, The Oprah Magazine, Sept 2003 v4 i9 p200(1) 
  Common shock: with violence the background noise of our lives, a trauma expert's groundbreaking book offers a prescription for anxiety: compassion. Pam Houston. 
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2003  Hearst Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved 

IN HER NEW BOOK, COMMON SHOCK, Harvard Medical School-based trauma expert Kaethe Weingarten asks the questions we have been unable to avoid. How do we cope with the acts of violence and violation we are asked to bear witness to each day? How do we keep from living in a state of constant anxiety, from going numb or replicating the violence to which we have been subjected? How can we transform inadvertent passive witnessing into compassionate, active witnessing that can help to heal ourselves and others? In a society rampant with binary thinking--good versus evil, us versus them--how do we move toward understanding and forgiveness of those who are different? How do we hold on to hope and let go of fear? 

The writing of Common Shock was one act of compassionate witnessing; to read it is another. It is full of stories from every corner of the earth: Kosovo, South Africa, Kenya, France, Palestine, Lower Manhattan; from every walk of life: teachers, doctors, clergymen, tribal leaders, and clerks; from 3-year-olds and 84-year-olds; from abused and abusive parents; from communists and capitalists; from Hamlet and the Oresteia; from Toni Morrison and Adrienne Rich. 

There is the 12-year-old girl named Abby who decided to fast for Ramadan so that she might better empathize with Muslims every time a hunger pang ripped through her belly, and the Masai warriors who gave their most precious gift--14 head of cattle--to the people of America so that they might heal from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. There is the Tibetan monk who after being imprisoned by the Chinese for 18 years was asked what he experienced as the biggest threat while he was in prison and answered, "losing ... compassion for the Chinese," and Cynthia Ngewu, mother of a young man who was set up, framed, and murdered by the South African government, who said, at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, "This thing called reconciliation ... if it means the perpetrator, this man who has killed [my son], if it means he becomes human again, this man, so that I, so that all of us get our humanity back ... then I agree, then I support it all." 

Common Shock is a map through a difficult present into a restorative future. Chapter 1 warns that reading the book may cause the reader pain, and it does. But the pain is spent on the way to catharsis, self-forgiveness, determination, and, above all else, hope. 


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Kit Potter 
  To: SAYMA Listserve 
  Sent: Thursday, January 01, 2004 9:18 PM
  Subject: [saymaListserv] FW: Life-changing book in stores now

  Anyone know something about the book my cousin is mentioning here? Any feedback or reviews?

  Happy New Year,

  -----Original Message-----
  From: Warren Hoskins [mailto:warren at hoskins.org] 
  Sent: Thursday, January 01, 2004 8:40 PM
  To: oc-alum at asquared.info
  Subject: Life-changing book in stores now

  I read a lot, and sometimes get enthusiastic about a book.  This is a different kind of enthusiasm I am experiencing however.  I recommend gently but rather insistently that it will be very worthwhile to read COMMON SHOCK -- Witnessing Violence Every Day: How We Are Harmed, How We Can Heal, by Dr. Kaethe Weingarten (Dutton, September 2003), no matter where on the political spectrum you are, no matter your religion or tribe or other "demographic" subdivision of humanity.

  First, the writing connects. The "homework" has been done, in Dr. Weingarten's own practice and life, and in the places that life has taken her (Kosovo, and South Africa, as well as others).  This is potentially as big a book as something like I'M OK, YOU'RE OK, or THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE.  Second, even telling people about this book has brought forth hopeful reactions.  This is a book which looks at process, at procedures, and at how we function biologically and socially--it is true about humanity, not just about Western civilization.

  And, I want your help.  I would like to see intelligent criticism of this book, of its research and writing. I really want to know what its perceived flaws are (aside from typos that got through).  I doubt very much that what is found would change my mind about what I feel is revealed as true in this book, but it would help me to see what others are likely to take issue with.

  I found it in the bookstore at Oberlin that shares the Ben Franklin 5 & 10 -- Mindscape? Mindspring? SOmething like that.  Wonderful books, including an excellent assortment for children.  I have been reading my way through COMMON SHOCK like it is required reading for a course--the course for the rest of my life, I suspect.  I also want to look at (but have not yet, so I am sending this on in trust that there is something there) the related web site Dr. Weingarten is affiliated with: http://www.witnessingproject.org --to see what may be there.  



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