The Body Keeps the Score
Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
- 2015, 464 pages
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What causes people to continually relive what they most want to forget, and what treatments could help restore them to a life with purpose and joy?
A New York Times Science Bestseller and a pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing.
Trauma is a fact of life.
Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat, one in five Americans has been molested, one in four grew up with alcoholics, one in three couples have engaged in physical violence.
Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors.
In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers‘ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments-from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga-that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity.
Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal-and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.
Packed with science and human stories, the book is an intense read. . . . The struggle and resilience of [van der Kolk’s] patients is very moving.
— New Scientist
The trauma caused by childhood neglect, sexual or domestic abuse and war wreaks havoc in our bodies, says Bessel van der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score . . . . Van der Kolk draws on 30 years of experience to argue powerfully that trauma is one of the West’s most urgent public health issues. . . . Packed with science and human stories, the book is an intense read. . . . [T]he struggle and resilience of his patients is very moving.
— Shaoni Bhattacharya, New Scientist
War zones may be nearer than you think, as the 25% of US citizens raised with alcoholic relatives might attest. Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk argues, moreover, that severe trauma is ‚encoded in the viscera‘ and demands tailored approaches that enable people to experience deep relief from rage and helplessness. In a narrative packed with decades of findings and case studies, he traces the evolution of treatments from the ‚chemical coshes‘ of the 1970s to neurofeedback, mindfulness and other nuanced techniques.
An astonishing amount of information on almost every aspect of trauma experience, research, interventions, and theories is brought together in this book, which . . . has a distinctly holistic feel to it. The title suggests that what will be explored is how the body retains the imprints of trauma. However, it delivers much more than this, delving into how the brain is impacted by overwhelming traumatic events, and is studded with sections on neuroscience which draw on the author’s own numerous studies as well as that of his peers. In addition, it investigates the effects of adverse childhood attachment patterns, child abuse, and chronic and long-term abuse. . . . [T]his book is a veritable goldmine of information.
— European Journal of Psychotraumatology
Dr. van der Kolk . . . has written a fascinating and empowering book about trauma and its effects. He uses modern neuroscience to demonstrate that trauma physically affects the brain and the body, causing anxiety, rage, and the inability to concentrate. Victims have problems remembering, trusting, and forming relationships. They have lost control. Although news reports and discussions tend to focus on war veterans, abused children, domestic violence victims, and victims of violent crime suffer as well. Using a combination of traditional therapy techniques and alternative treatments such as EMDR, yoga, neurofeedback, and theater, patients can regain control of their bodies and rewire their brains so that they can rebuild their lives. The author uses case histories to demonstrate the process. He includes a resource list, bibliography, and extensive notes. This accessible book offers hope and inspiration to those who suffer from trauma and those who care for them. It is an outstanding addition to all library collections.
— Medical Library Association, Consumer Connections
[A] wonderful new book that everyone involved with trauma ought to read and have available. . . . [B]eautifully, compellingly and sweepingly written in its grand vision of integrating medical, psychological and mixed or alternative approaches, based on a careful reading of the client and a holistic mind-body view. . . . There are very few practitioners who could not learn from this book and become more effective, as well as inspired, by reading and studying it.
— Henry Strick van Linschoten, European Society For Trauma And Dissociation Newsletter
Psychological trauma can befall anyone, not just soldiers, refugees, or victims of rape. . . . This important and helpful book makes sense of suffering and offers opportunity for healing. — Booklist
[C]omprehensive in scope. This valuable work . . . offers hope for the millions of sufferers and their families seeking meaningful treatment and relief from the ongoing pain of trauma. — Library Journal (Starred Review)
Bessel van der Kolk
Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. ist Gründer und medizinischer Leiter des Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts. Außerdem ist er als Professor der Psychiatrie an der Boston University School of Medicine tätig und fungiert als Leiter des National Complex Trauma Treatment Network. Dr. van der Kolk arbeitet und lebt in Boston.