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The Body Keeps the Score

Mind, Brain and the Body in the Transformation of Trauma

By Bessel van der Kolk
15-minute read
Audio available
The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and the Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

The Body Keeps the Score (2014) explains what trauma is and how it can change our lives for the worse. These blinks investigate the wide-ranging effects experienced not only by traumatized people, but also those around them. Nevertheless, while trauma presents a number of challenges, there are ways to heal.

  • People struggling with chronic pain, anxiety or depression
  • Family and friends of PTSD sufferers
  • Students of psychology and medicine

Bessel van der Kolk, MD, is a physician, researcher and teacher specializing in post-traumatic stress. His other books include Psychological Trauma and Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society. Van der Kolk is a professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine and directed the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute.

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The Body Keeps the Score

Mind, Brain and the Body in the Transformation of Trauma

By Bessel van der Kolk
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and the Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
Synopsis

The Body Keeps the Score (2014) explains what trauma is and how it can change our lives for the worse. These blinks investigate the wide-ranging effects experienced not only by traumatized people, but also those around them. Nevertheless, while trauma presents a number of challenges, there are ways to heal.

Key idea 1 of 9

Trauma is incredibly common in our society.

Trauma isn’t just something faced by war veterans – it’s far more prevalent in our society than we realize. The truth is that trauma can happen to anyone, and it’s time we found out what this really means.

Traumas result from an experience of extreme stress or pain that leaves an individual feeling helpless, or too overwhelmed, to cope with adversity. Experiences involving war typically result in traumas, but violent crimes and accidents cause them too.

Rape and child abuse are terrible events, and they are also unfortunately more common than you might think. Reports reveal that 12 million women were victims of rape in the United States in 2014 alone, and that more than 50 percent of those women were under the age of 15 at the time of the assault. Every year in the United States, there are 3 million cases of child abuse.

These traumatic experiences can change the lives of those affected, as well as the lives of their friends and family. Traumatized people often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can lead to depression and substance abuse.

In addition, traumatized people tend to mistrust anyone who hasn’t experienced the same suffering they have, and assume that nobody can understand them. This was illustrated in one of the therapy groups the author set up for Vietnam veterans.

While the group helped the veterans find friends and share their experiences, those who weren’t traumatized by the war were considered outsiders by the group – including the author. It took weeks of listening, empathizing and building trust with the veterans for them to accept him.

Establishing a rapport with someone suffering from PTSD is a challenge on its own, so just imagine trying to maintain a marriage, a close friendship or a stable parent-child relationship. Traumatized people find it difficult to trust even those who love them most, including partners and kids. This can be very tough on friends and families, often leading to estrangement or divorce.

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