Stanley has, through her own personal experience and experience helping others, developed techniques to heal from and develop resilience to stress and trauma. These techniques can help with anything from capital-T-Trauma to to the stress of everyday life. At the extreme end, this requires a skilled practitioner and might even be covered by your health insurance as therapy. On the mundane side, this involves practicing some simple life skills that anyone can learn; the sort of thing they should really teach in school.All this is to say, Stanley has produced something beneficial to the health of modern humans. The book she has written to spread the word is a tragedy.
I posit that this book did not get enough love from an editor. It weighs in at roughly 400 pages. It could comfortably be half that length, perhaps even shorter. Why does this matter? A shorter book would reach more people. This book contains first-hand accounts of stress, trauma, and healing. It teaches simple techniques that promote mental and physical health. It is presented as a self-help book for a wide audience, but the text is padded with page after page of grinding repetition and irrelevant detail. There is no need for this book to be so long.
This book combines the jargon-filled language of an academic text with the conversational style of a popular science book. The result is verbose rambling: moving from topic to topic in a haphazard way, tangents, and so very much repetition. Stanley spends a lot of time providing evidence that stress, trauma, and related illness are common. These points are addressed in the style of an academic paper. Facts are provided, logic is applied, theses are proven. This all feels largely superfluous. I do not need proof that stress is bad and people suffer from it. This has already been well-documented in other books. I picked up this book to learn what I can do about it. Some background on the biology and the reality of stress and trauma is expected, but statistics on how many hours of sleep recently-deployed soldiers get compared with another group is not relevant information. This book will eventually teach you how to better care for yourself, but you must first endure several lengthy lectures.
The introductory section, Part 1, provides one of the clearest, most complete explanations of stress and trauma I have ever read. Stanley then makes a point of insisting that the reader needs the information in Part 2 in order to understand the techniques taught in Part 3, and I agree. There is important information in Part 2, and it is useful for understanding the techniques in Part 3. However, Part 2 consists of a meandering treatise about stress and trauma and biology. While interesting, most of this content is not important for understanding Part 3. It’s also repetitive. Did I mention that it’s repetitive? It is. It repeats a lot.
The book is also strangely sloppy and poorly organized. In Chapter 13 Table 13.1 provides a list of some physical symptoms. A scant 11 pages later in the same chapter, Table 13.3 appears. It is the exact same table. Stanley is clearly a fan of acronyms to the point of presenting a new term and its acronym and then never using the term or the acronym again. There is a lot of vocabulary but no glossary. The titular Window is not fully defined until page 104. There are endless references to what will be explained in future Chapters and what was discussed in past Chapters, but these are not specific enough to use for cross-referencing, so they just become more padding in the already bulky prose. The book is too wordy for a good self-help guide and too rambly for a good academic text.
Stanley also falls into the trope of fetishizing “warrior culture”. Her interpretation is to assign it the virtues of wisdom and courage, and she mentions several specific cultures and traditions as examples. The fawning praise for “warrior culture” always sounds like military propaganda to my ears, and the references to specific cultures and traditions does not represent them fairly or completely. No one familiar with the specifics of any of these would offer them in their entirety as role models for healthy living. And assigning them all a virtuous label like “warrior culture” ignores too much about warriors and those cultures. Simply put, it is not necessary to invoke a concept like “warrior culture” to discuss wisdom and courage, and to do so only confuses things.
Early in the introductory section of this book while discussing trauma, Stanley offers “If you are a human being living in today’s world, this book still pertains to you.”. Unfortunately, the book that follows was not written and edited for a wide audience. The content is repetitive, extraneous, rambly, and this is upsetting because what Stanley ultimately has to offer us is truly valuable. Read with patience.