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The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and…

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (original 2014; edition 2015)

by Bessel van der Kolk M.D. (Author)

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8551616,723 (4.38)12
An expert on traumatic stress outlines an approach to healing, explaining how traumatic stress affects brain processes and how to use innovative treatments to reactivate the mind's abilities to trust, engage others, and experience pleasure. --Publisher's description.
Title:The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Authors:Bessel van der Kolk M.D. (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2015), Edition: Reprint, 464 pages
Collections:Your library, To read

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The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel A. van der Kolk (2014)


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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
This deserves all of the praise it gets--van der Kolk does a deft job of explaining various aspects of the neuroscience of trauma, and manages to use patient stories to demonstrate that science he's talking about. It also functions really interestingly as a kind of history of trauma treatment, with criticism of the DSM (especially the DSM 5) and the use of medication as a sole treatment of trauma, as well as the misdiagnosis of trauma or diagnoses that deliberately cover up trauma's impact and individualize it.

I think if you've done any reading or been exposed to medical trauma theories, a lot of this won't be new to you necessarily (I did an intensive outpatient program before reading this that used this information heavily,) though the information about various kinds of therapies was useful, though how actually useful in being able to access that care might be more difficult. And I think a lot of people will find the chapter on recovered memories... a little messy (as is that whole debate.) But I think it's definitely empowering from a patient perspective, with a lot of information and potential avenues for seeking treatment as well as further, more-depth explanations for what he's able to do. I do recommend it to folks for sure. ( )
  aijmiller | Jan 7, 2020 |
This was in many ways a tough listen for me, but a good one. Van der Kolk is a psychiatrist who has worked extensively with trauma survivors. This book is about the ways traumatic experiences permanently affect us.

Trauma isn't just something that happens to our bodies, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder isn't just something that happens in our brains.

It doesn't take combat, terrifying accidents, or obvious child abuse to cause PTSD. Obviously they all can, and do, and are the most easily recognized causes. But other events, that may not even be recognized as trauma, can also be traumatic, and have lasting effects.

Among these less obvious traumatic experiences are separating a baby or young child from a primary caregiver. Infants and children need security, trust, confidence that they can rely on the adults responsible for their care. Going from one family or set of caretakers to another is scary and deeply unsettling. That doesn't mean it's never justified. Indeed, sometimes it's absolutely essential.

I just deleted an account of events in my own childhood that I've decided it's not appropriate to post.

A lot of my own issues come from these events in my early childhood, that I'd long been told didn't happen, and which no one involved intended in a bad way. From the viewpoint of the adults, it had been the sensible thing to do at the time. They were keeping me safe. But I grew up with what seemed like objectively true knowledge, that I had better not annoy the adults in charge of me, because they might decide to send me someplace else.

This book let me recognize these fears as not abnormal, not just intellectually (I'd heard the same from therapists prior to the one who said "get this book") but also at least a little bit emotionally, and also feel that maybe I can get past them.

I'm not doing justice to this book. It's clear, accessible, revealing. I learned a lot, and not just about my own issues. But it can be upsetting, precisely because it can be useful.

Highly recommended.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library. ( )
1 vote LisCarey | Nov 26, 2018 |
This book goes into more detail than I wanted. I quit reading at 12%.
  ajlewis2 | Jul 11, 2018 |
I’ve had The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. on my shelves (both analog and audio) for quite a few months. I suppose I put it off because trauma is such a heavy subject. However, I unexpectedly found the tone to be comfortable and almost conversational. Perhaps that’s the talent of audiobook narrator Sean Pratt and van der Kolk’s evident compassion.

The reason I picked up this book at this time was because I recently finished Hunger by Roxane Gay. As Gay told her story of gang rape at 12, along with subsequent disordered eating behavior, I wanted to understand more about how trauma affects people. Choosing The Body Keeps the Score was a perfect follow up.

Van der Kolk began his journey by working with Vietnam War veterans, and he references veterans repeatedly throughout the book. But he also tells the story of many other patients, individually and as research groups. It’s hard to hear the traumatic experiences, but each time van der Kolk infuses the telling with hope and positive change.

I appreciated the personal stories from the author as well. You can see why he’s been driven to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder and it’s related disorders. Van der Kolk’s advocacy for the PTSD diagnosis, as well as Complex PTSD and Developmental Trauma Disorder is groundbreaking and important.

The Body Keeps the Score covers how trauma affects our brains, how it changes children, and how traumatic memories can be hidden as well as revealed later. The science was clear and relatable, while also detailed and fascinating. I can imagine myself rereading part or all of this book in the future to revisit concepts.

For me, the most interesting part of the book was the final third. This section covers a variety of treatment methods including therapeutic theater, yoga, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). I found myself wishing for more information, and also feeling curious about exploring some methods I’ve not tried.

As I said, this is a book to read and reread. I’ll use it as reference in the future, since I sometimes work with trauma survivors in my massage therapy practice. I highly recommend it to professionals and lay people. ( )
1 vote TheBibliophage | Mar 20, 2018 |
If you are interested in the science and treatment of trauma, and I mean if you have any little interest in it at all, then read this book. It's fascinating to see how negative experiences can affect someone in either a big or little way, and to help how to approach your own mental states if they ever start going south. ( )
  Kronomlo | Feb 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Packed with science and human stories, the book is an intense read that can get technical. Stay with it, though: van der Kolk has a lot to say, and the struggle and resilience of his patients is very moving.
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One does not have to be a combat soldier, or visit a refugee camp in Syria or the Congo to encounter trauma.
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