• What My Bones Know

  • A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma
  • By: Stephanie Foo
  • Narrated by: Stephanie Foo
  • Length: 10 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (889 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A searing memoir of reckoning and healing by acclaimed journalist Stephanie Foo, investigating the little-understood science behind complex PTSD and how it has shaped her life

“Achingly exquisite...providing real hope for those who long to heal.” (Lori Gottlieb, New York Times best-selling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone)

One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2022 - She Reads

By age 30, Stephanie Foo was successful on paper: She had her dream job as an award-winning radio producer at This American Life and a loving boyfriend. But behind her office door, she was having panic attacks and sobbing at her desk every morning. After years of questioning what was wrong with herself, she was diagnosed with complex PTSD - a condition that occurs when trauma happens continuously, over the course of years.

Both of Foo’s parents abandoned her when she was a teenager, after years of physical and verbal abuse and neglect. She thought she’d moved on, but her new diagnosis illuminated the way her past continued to threaten her health, relationships, and career. She found limited resources to help her, so Foo set out to heal herself, and to map her experiences onto the scarce literature about C-PTSD.

In this deeply personal and thoroughly researched account, Foo interviews scientists and psychologists and tries a variety of innovative therapies. She returns to her hometown of San Jose, California, to investigate the effects of immigrant trauma on the community, and she uncovers family secrets in the country of her birth, Malaysia, to learn how trauma can be inherited through generations. Ultimately, she discovers that you don’t move on from trauma - but you can learn to move with it.

Powerful, enlightening, and hopeful, What My Bones Know is a brave narrative that reckons with the hold of the past over the present, the mind over the body - and examines one woman’s ability to reclaim agency from her trauma.

©2022 Stephanie Foo (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Many trauma survivors struggle to describe the seemingly indescribable sense of carrying something intangibly sharp—something there but not there—inside. But in What My Bones Know, Stephanie Foo details that and more. Her achingly exquisite memoir takes us on a journey through complex trauma, illuminating her path of self-discovery and providing real hope for those who long to heal.”—Lori Gottlieb, New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

“At turns funny and devastating, terrifying and transcendent, Foo’s quest for understanding should be relevant not just to someone with C-PTSD but to anyone seeking to grow and be present in this one life.”—Jenny Odell, New York Times bestselling author of How to Do Nothing 

“Funny and tragic, unflinchingly honest and relentlessly hopeful, What My Bones Know is a marvel of a book.”—Ed Yong, New York Times bestselling author of I Contain Multitudes 

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What listeners say about What My Bones Know

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  • Overall
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Helped me immensely in better understanding my CPTSD

After being diagnosed with PTSD in 2019, actually CPTSD - but that’s not recognized as a true diagnosis - yet, I much like Stephanie felt lost and bummed out. Our stories are different, but we both had traumatic childhoods and our trauma responses are similar. It is a beautiful book, inspiring, helpful, I learned new things, and it made me feel less alone and hopeful.

5 people found this helpful

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Complex PTSD from a patient's point of view!

This book is great. She warns you at the beginning that Part 1 is graphic, and if you get queazy, you should skip it. Since I listened to the first hour or so before going to bed, it was so bad that I didn't sleep well, because I was thinking of ways to destroy her parents for doing such horrible things to a child. Luckily it wasn't sexual, it was just violent physical abuse. After she was diagnosed with Complex PTSD, she did tons of research that included the book that got me interested in PTSD, The Body Keeps The Score, She mentioned various other books also.

She documented the amount of abuse these Asian parents afflicted on their children, if they didn't get straight-A's on their report cards. This was news to me, it is very common. but kids don't tell on their parents, because they are afraid that the state will take them away, and they'll end up as foster children. I didn't realize that many of these kids were "beaten into" being A students.

She talked about how this abuse messed up her self esteem and how it affected everything from work to personal relationships. She tried various methods to attempt to fix herself, including EMDR, various mindfulness therapies, Yoga and talking therapies.

She was given the opportunity to allow the doctor to record her therapy, and she was able to include snippets of the work in her audiobook. It was great, it actually helped her work through it and get even more value from the sessions.
This book was a total unexpected treat to listen to, especially after Part 1.

4 people found this helpful

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Astounding, honest, hopeful, well researched

If you have ever struggled with ANY type of mental health challenges, you will find many nuggets of gold in this book!

While it is written specifically about the author’s work to learn about and grow through her history of repeated childhood trauma and eventual diagnosis with Complex PTSD (C-PTSD), any human should be able to connect to and find solace in what Ms. Foo has to say.

Her honesty is refreshing and disarming. The inclusion of several recordings from actual therapy sessions makes the audio version really stand out. To top it all off, her writing and narration are killer!

KUDOS, FOO!!! (I am your fan for life!)

4 people found this helpful

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Sobbed.

I heard about this book because the Author/Reader was on The Allusionist discussing Resilience and I wanted to hear more.

We are different in almost every possible way, but she articulated the experience of growing up in an abusive home and living with that as an adult with the most resonant and inclusive way. Her story is different from mine, but I felt like I was listening to my sister talk about our father when she spoke about hers.

Be prepared to cry. Reading this was a validating catharsis.

3 people found this helpful

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from hopeful to hopeless

great autobiography for the author but it left me feeling more depressed and hopeless. I can't find a therapist who takes my insurance let alone 400. dollars an hour. what about the rest of us?

2 people found this helpful

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Everyone needs to read this!

She actually gives you her research findings from extensive therapy for chronic PTSD. This is such an interesting story and is so helpful at the same time. She’s an amazing writer, very insightful, and you leave the book feeling you like you have some tools. Highly recommended!

2 people found this helpful

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Meh

Good in some areas and not so much in others. Good info overall. Learned some insight, but not as much as I expected

2 people found this helpful

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Compelling and important but painful read

There were moments I had a really difficult time listening to what the author experienced as a child and I fell into minimizing my trauma as compared to hers. Then I heard HER do the same. I felt this book was beneficial to having an overall understanding of CPTSD, some of the treatment options (thank you for your candidness in relaying your experience with various treatments and your openness to discuss options. I personally have tried to read The Body Keeps the Score 3 times and I have been able to do so far due to my own triggers. This was extremely helpful for those unable or not ready to read thru such academic material.)

I enjoyed the flow of the book and how smoothly the author navigated childhood, adulthood, treatment options, family history, how generational trauma affects us, present day, seeking treatment and various options, back to childhood and then back to present day. My brain can jump around a lot and it often has trouble processing books where a lot of jumping around occurs. This book had SO MUCH jumping around, but honestly, it flowed so well and was done so expertly that I was able to focus and appreciate that we were once again “back here again” receiving deeper insight and richer understanding.

This is a book about Ms Foo’s personal experience, her collective experience with immigrants, her culture, the culture within the United States, everyone with CPTSD regardless of causation, treatment options, expenses, hurdles in finding mental health care, difficulty in maintaining relationships for as well as those with CPTSD.

When the book would become very “heavy” (in my own personal opinion) and I would need to set it aside, I always felt empowered in listening again as Ms. Foo was quick to add insights, humor, encouragement to her realism and the pain of the human experience and the struggle and enormity of recovery.

This book does include a lot of “language” which may be off putting to some listeners. Please listen anyway. There are many people of faith that are suffering from CPTSD due to trauma. A lot of it is from a spiritual or religious upbringing or even patriarchal teachings within their faith that further creates abuse. These may be people that may have trouble listening to colorful language, but they very much need this book. They may even find themselves getting curious as to their own reaction to certain words being said.

If you have CPTSD from childhood abuse or an abusive relationship as an adult, or you love someone who you know does or may have CPTSD, this is an engaging, helpful, insightful book. I pray Ms. Foo continues to find freedom in her healing journey, along with all of those of us who have CPTSD.

1 person found this helpful

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One of the best books on trauma I’ve ever read

This is the first time I’ve ever taken the time to actually write a review. I’m a trauma therapist and someone who experienced early trauma. This is the best book I’ve read about trauma in a long time. Most books about trauma are written by therapists and fail to tell a compelling story as they’re teaching. This book does both so beautifully. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

1 person found this helpful

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Life changing

Life changing read. She was able to put words out into the world that I was unable to convey.

1 person found this helpful