Stephanie Foo

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Stephanie Foo (born 1987) is a radio journalist, producer and author who was born in Malaysia and now lives in the USA. She has worked for Snap Judgment and This American Life and in 2022 she published What My Bones Know, a memoir about healing from complex PTSD.



What My Bones Know (2022)

  • Every villain's redemption arc begins with their origin story. (prologue)
  • Trauma isn’t just the sadness that comes from being beaten, or neglected, or insulted. That’s just one layer of it. Trauma also is mourning the childhood you could have had. The childhood other kids around you had. The fact that you could have had a mom who hugged and kissed you when you skinned your knee. Or a dad who stayed and brought you a bouquet of flowers at your graduation. Trauma is mourning the fact that, as an adult, you have to parent yourself.
  • Being healed isn’t about feeling nothing. Being healed is about feeling the appropriate emotions at the appropriate times and still being able to come back to yourself. That’s just life.
  • the sadness of a lost childhood feels like yearning, impossible desire. It feels like a hollow, insatiable hunger.
  • Forgiveness is this act of love where you say to someone, ‘You’re an imperfect being and I still love you.’ You want to have this energy of ‘We’re not giving up on each other; we’re in this for the long haul. You hurt me. And, yes, I hurt you. And I’m sorry, but you’re still mine.’ 
  • It takes an intellectual and physical effort to shove aside the comfortably worn neural pathways and go in a different direction.
  • Punishment excludes and excises. It demolishes relationships and community. I could not believe it had taken me this long to realize that punishment is not love. In fact, it is the opposite of love. Forgiveness is love. Spaciousness is love.
  • PTSD is an adaptation, a mechanism our genius bodies evolved to help us survive. (Chapter 43)
  • Dr. Ham would tell me that PTSD is only a mental illness in times of peace. The whole point of PTSD is to prepare you for being on the verge of death at any moment. My parents prepared me to face a vicious world with danger around every corner. (Chapter 43)
  • there are two main differences now: I have hope, and I have agency. I know my feelings, no matter how disconsolate they are, are temporary. I know that regardless of how unruly it is, I am the beast's master, and at the end of each battle I stand strong and plant my flag: I am alive, I am proud, I am joyful, still. (Chapter 43)

Interview with The Guardian (2022)

  • Capitalism and academic success have buried trauma.
  • The important thing in healing is being able to hold the nuance of it.
  • The way we view trauma in this country is deeply broken. Because if you have complex PTSD, you’re probably going to have some deep feelings of shame and self-loathing. And if you are just diagnosing people by saying, “here are all the things that are wrong with you, you’re pathologically broken”, those people are not going to be able to heal. We need to say: “You’re not neurotypical. But there are advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore how you can have better coping mechanisms for some of the disadvantages that you might be experiencing.”
  • You can’t heal without acknowledgment. We have to normalize therapy – not just, like, talk therapy or psychotherapy. We have to normalize different generations of Americans working through trauma.
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