The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier is a cornerstone book of modern adoption understanding. It has come highly recommended to us from about a dozen different parties, and as such two copies now reside in our bookcase.
The book is written by a psychotherapist and adoptive mother and centres on what she describes as the Primal Wound – ‘the wound that results when a child is separated from his or her mother.’
I will be honest straight off the bat, I did find this book hard going at times. The language and subject matter is not exactly light reading so be prepared for some head scratching and rubbing of the eyes.
The author starts by talking about adoption in general, and some of the issues relating to adoption. She goes on to discuss the importance and indeed the strength of the bond between mother and baby.
This is potentially enough to put some prospective adopters off, but it is important to understand this bond, if adopters are to fully appreciate the feelings of their children.
The heavy stuff
As the book continues, Verrier starts looking at the breaking of that bond and what affect it has on the child. This is about the point where I had to put the book down the first time. Not because I wanted to shy away from what she was saying, but because it just got a bit too heavy for me – you will see what I mean when you read it.
In part two the book looks at how this primal wound manifests itself in people, and she uses her experience as a therapist to identify one such manifestation:
“Perhaps the most easily observed manifestation is difficulties in relationships. This is certainly one of the most prevalent for adoptees in counselling.”
This section makes for very interesting reading, as it demonstrates tangible examples of what she is discussing. It allows the reader to relate the subject matter to their own situation.
The third section is arguably the most valuable for adopters, as she applies her knowledge and experience to look at solutions, or should I say, methods of helping adoptive children cope with the wound, and the loss, and everything that goes with it.
The book is no easy read, and may take two or three goes to get through it. It is however, undeniably one of the most useful and pertinent books to new and experienced adoptive parents alike. Understanding the primal wound, that is the core of the book, is vital for adoptive parents, and few books do such a job in helping adopters get to grips with this understanding.
Please also check out by store for other great adoption books.