(Review) The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Books. 2015.
Genre: Psychology.
Pages: 445.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers who have experienced trauma from abuse or war.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon


“Part One: The Rediscovery of Trauma”

“Part Two: This is Your Brain on Trauma”

“Part Three: The Mind of Children”

“Part Four: The Imprint of Trauma”

“Part Five: Paths to Recovery”

A total of 20 chapters in the five parts with an epilogue.

The Body Keeps the Score teaches how trauma from abuse or war actually impacts the body itself. In the later chapters of the book, there is applicable help for trauma recovery.

My Thoughts:

Three reasons I wanted to read this book.
1. I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I was 17.
2. My husband has major depression. He grew up in a home that was a hell house. Both of his parents were alcoholics. They abused each other. They abused the children.
3. My eldest son is a combat veteran and he has PTSD and major depression.

My first thought of The Body Keeps the Score is it’s eye-opening. Several things I now realize about myself and others that make sense. For example, trauma has an impact on the imagination. A person who has been traumatized is not able to have vision of a “better future” or outcome. In addition, trauma effects the way people view the rest of the world-especially with people who may be a threat.
For me, I have retained an imagination, but I do fear certain types of people that pose a perceived threat.
Chapter three explains how scans show the effect of trauma on the brain.
Chapter four teaches how trauma stops a person in their growth because they believe the trauma is still going on. This chapter also talks about dissociation. A person should use a grounding technique (this is explored in other areas of the book too) to live in the present and not in the past where the trauma happened. To be aware of the body itself, and the feelings occurring. Don’t ignore feelings and why the feelings are present. Chapter seven will also talk about dissociation.
Part five is recovery and how to get there.

Medications are often prescribed for people who have been traumatized, but they are not taught other things that can help. For example, yoga and mindfulness are helpful.

The resources and further reading sections are supportive.

I feel this is an important book. It is valuable to a person who wants to understand the effects of trauma.
It is easy to understand. It’s been written for everyday people like me who does not hold a doctorate.

Favorite quotes:

“While we all want to move beyond trauma, the part of our brain that is devoted to ensuring our survival (deep below our rational brain) is not very good at denial. Long after a traumatic experience is over, it may be reactivated at the slightest hint of danger and mobilize disturbed brain circuits and secrete massive amounts of stress hormones.” Page 2.

It is one thing to process memories of trauma, but it is an entirely different matter to confront the inner void-the holes in the soul that result from, not having been wanted, not having been seen, and not having been allowed to speak the truth.” Page 298.

There are several YouTube videos on this book. Many of them are lengthy.
This video is short.


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