The BRAVE Series: A Conceptual Framework
Sometimes my students wanted to explore a particular subject at a deeper level. Not everyone did, and that never bothered me (there were plenty of times my mind didn’t want to explore every topic in depth!) But when someone asked, I was glad to go on thought explorations. This is in response to a previewer who asked me to explore how my books fit together, how my background and story enabled/guided me in the development of the BRAVE Trilogy, etc..
Conceptually, the BRAVE Trilogy began as one book, but early on it was clear that it needed to expand beyond my initial ideas. What has evolved reminds me of the Star Wars movies which move back and forth in time, but are best understood as a whole. Though I have attempted to include enough background material for each book to be read independently, they are best read in the order in which they were written.
BRAVE: A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma
The pivotal work provides an overview of my story of childhood trauma interwoven into the three-year journey of intensive therapy and concludes with my rather existential processing to find the courage to publish.
What readers say:
Janyne McConnaughey bravely becomes the voice for children who have experienced attachment wounding and trauma. I highly recommend this book for all professionals who work with children and adults that struggle with attachment and the far reaching effects of childhood trauma. Not only does her book provide insight into the painful experience of trauma but it helps the reader understand the ‘why’ behind the behavior of a hurting child. Janyne also boldly speaks hope, which is so desperately needed by those impacted by trauma and the hurt of disrupted attachment. –HEATHER C. THOMPSON, MS, LPC, Child and Family Therapist
Jeannie’s BRAVE Childhood: Behavior and Healing through the Lens of Attachment and Trauma
This second book (which is more of a companion to BRAVE than a sequel) expands on Part II of BRAVE with the focus on how insecure attachment and trauma influenced my often-inexplicable behavior as a child. It also addresses many of the avenues I explored as part of my healing process.
What readers say:
From cover to cover, this book is a masterpiece. Cohesive and expertly crafted. Janyne McConnaughey has taken a childhood of trauma and managed to redeem it to unfold into a gift of hope for those who have experienced childhood abuse. As a lifelong educator, I believe reading this book will enable anyone who works with children to see the unseen, to better recognize and touch with grace the heart of a silent sufferer.
SUSAN ELAINE JENKINS, Author of Scandalon: Running from Shame and Finding God’s Scandalous Love
BRAVE the Prequel: Survival, Resilience, and Healing after Childhood Trauma
This book explores the years of my life from the age of 23 until I began therapy at 61—all from my perspective at 66 (five years after beginning therapy). It is my reflection on all the ways I unconsciously lived above and out my trauma as I married, worked, served in the church, and raised my family.
My understanding of the effects of trauma become increasingly clear as I wrote each book. What I understood from the beginning was that talking about trauma was not the same as experiencing it. No one better understands a survivor of childhood trauma than another survivor. While the telling of story is essential, not all stories can provide an in-depth understanding of the effects of Developmental Trauma (DT) which includes both attachment wounding and trauma.
Towards the end of my healing journey, I took a deep dive into clinical writings about trauma to better understand my own story, but found the descriptions of client’s experiences seldom touched the depth of courage or determination required for healing. In fact, the technical terminology often felt shaming as it described unhealthy adult behaviors which I now understood as my child selves doing their very best to survive. I wanted to honor their efforts and chose the venue of storytelling to accomplish the goal.
Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is that to go on living I have to tell stories,
that stories are the one sure way I know to touch the heart and change the world. — Dorothy Allison
The power of story which does not cross the line into graphic material that only serves to trigger readers (and short circuits cognitive processes by activating Fight, Flight, or Freeze responses) is the basis for how the BRAVE books are written. The use of whimsy interwoven with important research-driven information provides readers with an understanding of the emotional struggles of trauma survivors while intellectually informing both survivors and others how the brain and body processes (or does not process) trauma. Every page of the books in the BRAVE books is intentional.
An essential component to my healing was my therapist’s belief in my own subconscious path to the “unlayering” of my trauma. This was not linear and did not progress in a straight diagonal trajectory. Creating a linear storyline was challenging but necessary for the readers! It did concern me that those on the healing journey would want their own processing to be linear. The series of books which move more like the healing process than each book in isolation is a better picture.
The influence of trauma (and its healing) can be represented by a central core with the effects emanating through all phases of life. In this sense BRAVE would sit in the center and all other books would branch out in different directions and create other hubs that would begin to connect together. In my mind, that is what the series looks like, but we live in a linear world and because of that it is essential that I take my interweaving story and make them follow straight lines, while leaving those connections to the minds of my readers.
My beginnings in the field of early childhood and child development was crucial in not only living my life, but also in my healing and writing. My years as a college instructor and course designer show up in the objectives and design of every book. During my doctoral work, my in-depth studies of constructivism, power, psychology, and learning theory enabled me to make connections as to the ways a child/individual’s mind constructs a sense of reality and how this process is damaged by trauma.
Radical constructivism, thus, is radical because it breaks with convention and develops a theory of knowledge
in which knowledge does not reflect an “objective” ontological reality, but exclusively an ordering and
organization of a world constituted by our experience. - Ernest von Glaserfeld
An example of this alternate organization was my ability to construct a different reality around my childhood experiences and fully embrace that as real. My subconscious felt very at home with the precepts of constructivism. My very avoidance of my own experience organized a different reality which I lived as true. During healing, it also enabled me to rewrite the ending of my life and reframe many elements of my story as shared in my second book.
Future books after the BRAVE Trilogy will follow various themes introduced in the first three books but will probably be less dependent on the story told in BRAVE. Dissociation will be one of those topics, as will the effects of how we view children (which began during my dissertation). There may also be a story my husband and I will tell to help others facing mental health crises during marriage. I probably have more books in my head than I have years to write them--but I will certainly try, always staying true to the unique interweaving of fantasy and reality which is a signature characteristic of my books.