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Black women are beautiful, intelligent and capable —but mostly they embrace strong. Esteemed clinical psychologist, Dr. Inger Burnett-Zeigler, praises the strength of women, while exploring how trauma and adversity have led to deep emotional pain and shaped how they walk through the world.
Black women’s strength is intimately tied to their unacknowledged suffering. An estimated eight in ten have endured some form of trauma—sexual abuse, domestic abuse, poverty, childhood abandonment, victim/witness to violence, and regular confrontation with racism and sexism. Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen shows that trauma often impacts mental and physical well-being. It can contribute to stress, anxiety, PTSD, and depression. Unaddressed it can lead to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, overeating, and alcohol and drug abuse, and other chronic health issues.
Dr. Burnett-Zeigler explains that the strong Black woman image does not take into account the urgency of Black women’s needs, which must be identified in order to lead abundant lives. It interferes with her relationships and ability to function day to day. Through mindfulness and compassionate self-care, the psychologist offers methods for establishing authentic strength from the inside out.
This informative guide to healing, is life-changing, showing Black women how to prioritize the self and find everyday joys in self-worth, as well as discover the fullness and beauty within both her strength and vulnerability.
About the Author
Dr. Inger Burnett-Zeigler is a licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She has two decades of clinical experience helping people with stress, trauma, mood and anxiety conditions, and interpersonal strain. In her clinical practice she promotes holistic wellness through mindfulness and compassionate self-care. Inger’s scholarly work focuses on the role that social determinants of health play in mental illness and treatment, particularly in the Black community. She is an advocate for normalizing participation in mental health treatment and assuring that all individuals have access to high-quality, evidence based mental health care. Inger has written dozens of articles and other publications on trauma and mental health in the Black community and lectures widely on research about barriers to access and engagement in mental health treatment, mindfulness and strategies to improve mental health treatment participation and outcomes. She is an active contributor to the public discourse on mental health and she has been featured in the New York Times, TIME Magazine, and Chicago Tribune. Inger received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Cornell University, her doctorate in clinical psychology from Northwestern University, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the VA Ann Arbor/University of Michigan. She is a lifelong Chicagoan.
“Black women give and give and give to the point of emotional exhaustion. Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen let’s us know how to break this unhealthy cycle by learning self-forgiveness, which through God’s help, leads to self-love and the power to say, ‘No, I come first in my life.” — Mary J. Blige
“Patience, courage, and perseverance are required in taking good care of yourself. You are worthy. You are important. Your song is part of a great symphony! Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen will help you find your instrument and melody.” — Jenifer Lewis, author of The Mother of Black Hollywood
“'Listen to Black women' and 'Black Girl Magic' are common phrases these days.Inger Burnett-Zeigler reveals what is unsaid about the Strong Black Woman — she needs to tend to her own individual health. This book is affirming and full of lessons.” — Natalie Y. Moore, author of "The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation"
"Through a blend of irrefutable scientific data and deeply moving personal narratives, Inger Burnett-Zeigler’s Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen takes an unflinching look at the sources of Black women’s pain and explodes the myth that our strength comes without sacrifice. This book invites us to be our whole, authentic selves—capable, yes, but also vulnerable and deserving of love and care. Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen is an offering, an affirmation, a balm, and a roadmap to transformation and real healing—A gift to Black women everywhere." — Natalie Baszile, author of Queen Sugar and We Are Each Other's Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land & Legacy
“In this excellent debut, clinical psychologist Burnett-Zeigler provides a road map to help Black women find “a healthy balance between strength and vulnerability.” She begins by articulating the connections between systemic racism and sexism, generational and childhood trauma, and the prevalence of negative individual physical and mental health outcomes for Black women. Blending personal anecdotes, case studies, and questions for reflection, Burnett-Zeigler helps readers identify if they are acting “from a space of trauma”—such as by using common coping mechanisms like embracing a facade of “being strong—and to envision proactive choices instead. In the book’s second half, she addresses obstacles Black women face in accessing and making the most of mental health treatment—such as lack of coverage and skepticism toward practices—and provides tips for dealing with both. Ultimately, Burnett-Zeigler demonstrates how the idea of the “strong Black woman” can be both helpful and harmful, and lays out ways for readers to eliminate “what no longer serves” them. This thorough analysis effectively pulls back the curtain on the emotional and health barriers Black women face to suggest practical strategies for change.” — Publishers Weekly