Saturday, December 12, 2009

Primal Wound Book Tour

Several months ago Lori asked me to join a virtual book tour for the book Primal Wound. I have to admit that at first I was skeptical. I had never read the book before but had witnessed many threads and post on various adoption boards spiral out of control whenever the book was brought up. I figured it was maybe time to find out for myself what all the fuss was about.

The book tour offers us the chance to ask other readers questions on the book and then to go to their blogs to engage in discussions with them on their answers. So read on to see the 3 questions that I have answered and then follow the link at the end to find all the other participants.



  • There are a great deal of behavioral issues that Verrier attributes to the Primal Wound of being separated from ones birthmother and subsequently adopted. These range from acting out and testing the adoptive parents, to becoming detached, to future inabilities to maintain healthy relationships as an adult. To the adoptees, I'm curious if you identified with any of these traits and to the adoptive parents, if you witnessed any of them in your child(ren)? Further, if you answered "yes", do you think your adoptive parents would agree that you have these traits as well?
Personally, I do not identify with any of the traits from the book. I've been in a wonderful, loving, healthy relationship for 16 years now. I have a wonderful group of friends and I've never felt that if I don't hear from them for X amount of time that they are going to abandon me. I'm still friends with people that I went to high school with a million years ago.

The only time I ever recall "testing" my adoptive parents would have been when I was about 6 or 7. My mom and I had a fight about something and I pulled the classic adoptee line "well you aren't my real mother anyway, so you can't make me!" I don't remember what my mom's reaction was or what even happened after that. I wasn't testing her to see if she would continue to love me, but I was looking to hurt her so I went for the low blow.

I was neither an acting out teen or a compliant teen that the book categorizes adoptees as. I was pretty typical compared to my non-adopted friends. I went to the occasional party I wasn't supposed to, I tried cigarettes and alcohol and I also hung out with my mom while we shopped together.

I told my mom about the book and this book tour. She's never read it and doesn't have any desire too. When I shared some of the author's observations with her and asked her if she thought I had any of these traits, she just laughed and said Hell No! She thinks I was a pretty "normal" teenager and that yes, my adoption played a big part in who I am, but she doesn't think that I was "wounded".

I would have to agree with her on that one.

  • How are the observations made in the book the same or different from the adult adoptees actual experiences?
My experiences are quite different from what is observed in the book. The author seems to believe that every adoptee is wounded (to various degrees) and that we all have to come to terms with that and accept it in order to move on. And for those of us who don't believe we were wounded and don't feel that we have anything to accept she labels us as being in denial of our primal wound. Kind of a no-win situation there. I have never experienced problems with maintaining relationships or friendships. I do not feel that I will be "annihilated"

My concern with the observations in the book is that they were all made after interviewing adoptees who had sought out therapy, be it adoption related or not. There was no control group of adoptees interviewed who were not at a point of their life that required therapy. I believe the observations would have been very different if the pool of adoptees had been broader. I don't deny that many adoptees do feel some sort of "Primal Wound". I just don't believe that it applies to all of us, not even when using a spectrum where some are severely damaged and some only slightly.


  • As a birthmother, my overwhelming stance towards this book was, (until completion that is) very defensive. It hurt to have to read about the pain I've inflicted upon my daughter, and my initial reaction was to criticize the book's thesis and deny that any part of it could be found in my personal story. Did others (adoptive parents, adoptees and birthparents alike) have this same reaction? If so, was your opinion changed by the end of the book?
I guess it's time for a confession. I didn't finish the book. I couldn't bring myself to finish the book. I made it to page 156 (of 222) and just could not go on. I also could only read it in short bursts, taking a break from it that sometimes lasted a couple of days. I too was defensive - How dare this woman think that I have any of these issues? Sure some adoptees might have a "Primal Wound". Yet statements like "these issues center around separation and loss, trust, rejection, guilt and shame, identity, intimacy , loyalty and mastery of power and control..." have nothing to do with who I am or what I believe about myself.

None of this means that I think adoption is all ponies and rainbows. There is loss, there is sadness. I've talked many times about my own experiences. I simply do not believe that I was so wounded by being separated from my birthmother at birth that it has shaped and influenced every facet of my life since then.

So I guess to answer the question, No, my opinion of the book did not change as I read through it. I think the book can be a good insight for what some people may feel, but I worry that people will try to apply the book's thesis to all adoptees.


To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at The Open Adoption Examiner.
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