The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
#1 New York Times bestseller “Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding and treating traumatic stress and the scope of its impact on society.” —Alexander McFarlane, Director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies A pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing in this New York Times bestseller 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.
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Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
Reddit Posts and Comments
0 posts • 150 mentions • top 50 shown below
194 points • derogatori
First of all, recognizing that this is a problem and seeking advice for it is a huge step, so good job! As a woman, THANK YOU!! You not wanting to feel this way about all women is kind and it’s brave of you to post here.
As far as advice goes: it is hard to hate people close up. Brené Brown’s suggestion in Braving the Wilderness is that when we think we hate someone, move closer. Get to know more women one on one. A teacher would be a great option. Or maybe get a job, volunteer, or join an organization that has a lot of women. Just get to know more women. And do whatever work you can on your own to process the hurt that you feel from being rejected by your mom and family. You are clearly a good person, and you are worthy of love. I’m sorry that your mom is too hurt to see that. Just remember that hurt people hurt people. She is still hurt, and she’s hurting you. But you can move through the hurt you’re feeling and come out more whole for it. Also, as soon as you’re of age I would suggest seeking therapy. It’s good for everyone, and you might still have some lingering feelings to work through. Best of luck.
Edit to add: I would highly recommend the book The Body Keeps the Score.
7 points • oorahmi
I've heard The Body Keeps the score is a go-to book for learning about trauma treatment. It's not exactly Buddhist, but there are some details into how mindfulness, yoga, and breathing were used effectively in treatment with therapy. It is pretty heavy content-wise, so just a word of caution. One section of the book focuses on children and developmental trauma.
4 points • OtherwiseFig1
Read the book, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk, MD. The book has a whole section on therapies for traumas. One of the points he makes again and again is that traditional talk therapies may not be appropriate for treating trauma. A good therapist who knows how to treat trauma will not force you to relive and re-experience all the details of the trauma before you're ready. That would likely cause more harm than good. People with trauma/PTSD have often developed psychological defenses such as dissociation, and somatic (body) symptoms. Those defenses must be de-energized, or released by the patient over time, in an environment of trust between patient and therapist.
This is one of the top ten books I've ever read. It's very well written, and author is a recognized expert on trauma. He's also an open-minded and humane researcher and clinician.
4 points • tesstorch
Yep, yep, and yep.
>to learn to love a relationship without those highs
It took me a long time -- and a dear friend's patient help -- to recognize this about myself, and how it was connected to my past, and dauntingly hard-wired. I have to be vigilant about that addiction piece.
Yesterday, I watched Darrel Hammond's "Cracked Up" on Netflix. It touches on many of these themes, based in extreme childhood trauma he suffered. I recommend anyone interested in the subject of what we learn to seek out and how we learn to cope, etc. might want to check it out. Look before you leap, though -- very difficult themes. It also includes insights from Bessel Van der Kalk, who, in my view, literally wrote THE BOOK on trauma and PTSD.
4 points • Confident_Fix8955
The The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk is a good one that I recommend but I’m sure there are many others too.
3 points • mythsarecrazystories
You can ask him why he's decided to tell you now. Also, it's possible what he is looking for from you is acceptance. Because of his background he might secretly believe that telling you this stuff would lead to you rejecting him. By telling you he is leaving himself vulnerable to rejection. Something that based on your post history he has experienced a lot of in his life.
I can't imagine what it did to him to hear his foster parents say it wouldn't be 'worth it' to adopt him.
Let him know that he can tell you anything but that you are disappointed he didn't tell you any of this earlier. Let him know that trust is important to you and that you don't think lying is acceptable.
Is he by chance in therapy? I would recommend the book The Body Keeps the Score. It is about learning to heal from early childhood trauma. It would be good for both of you to read. It is a very intense book but it is a life changer for many people.
Edit: Added a new first sentence.
3 points • ad_astra_then
Bessel van der Kolk, MD is one of the foremost authorities on trauma work and PTSD/cPTSD. Heis work helped me move past difficult cPTSD. Insight meditation helps also, but you really have to face your trauma and feel through it to make it disappear. It does, though.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma https://www.amazon.com/dp/0143127748/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_abeoFbQQCT59T
2 points • DesertWolf45
2 points • Gskgsk
Trauma can be unintuitive, understanding it is a great first step.
2 points • Chrysania83
This book really helped me. I get so upset when things are going too well or I'm being successful in life that I stop being able to hold down food and just have panic attacks. Meds and therapy are helping a lot.
2 points • SoSorry4PartyRocking
I have chronic PTSD. My husband supports me by just always being understanding when I’m out of sorts. Also because I don’t sleep well at night I can just tell him “I’m not going to sleep good tonight” and he will go sleep in a kids bed or the couch.
Get this book https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748/ref=nodl_
I have it, I still need to read it, but it’s highly praised by all the doctors and therapists I see. I see a lot.
Personally I am microdosing to help. My doctor knows and approves. I use shrooms. I haven’t tripped on them or anything, a microdose won’t do that, but it has really brought down my anxiety.
EMDR I don’t know if I got those letters in the right order but it’s a rapid eye movement therapy that helps the brain function properly around the triggers. I’m hoping to start this once the pandemic ends
When I was diagnosed with C PTSD it was both a relief and a burden. PTSD has changed my brains function. Ugh. I need to read the book I suggested above. Meant to start it today but what do you know, I have ADD too ;)
I don’t know what your husbands symptoms are, so just sharing some of mine and how I am navigating them.
2 points • rasterbated
I have personally found EMDR immensely valuable in unwinding the effects of childhood trauma and reducing the impact of problematic attachment styles. Other trauma-focused interventions are also functional, including internal family systems therapy and somatic experience therapy (though the second might be harder to access right now, relying as it does on in-person interaction).
I am not personally a fan of DBT or CBT for traumatic experiences, since I don’t think it addresses the root of the problem. However, please note I have no medical education: I am just a regrettably experienced consumer of mental healthcare services.
Ultimately, you’re going to want to work with a therapist with a solid foundation in treating patients with your type of trauma or similar. I always recommend people make a list of doctors they might like, then schedule a short phone screen with them to check the fit. A trusting relationship is absolutely crucial, and you don’t want to waste time. It’s a good time to trust your gut feeling, and don’t be afraid to ask probing questions. This is a serious relationship you’re about to embark upon.
If you want to learn more about the ways we are learning to treat trauma, I cannot make a better recommendation than Bessel van der Kolk’s revelatory The Body Keeps The Score, a volume I found immensely illuminating of both my own mental condition and that of others.
The first chapter of that book convinced me how traumatized I was, as I wept tears of sudden self-recognition over a soldier’s insistence that he not heal, that he remain damaged, not out of self-loathing (though he had plenty), but as a monument to those men who had not survived. The shock of suddenly apprehending my mirror image was like plunging into the coldest pool I could ever imagine, colder than timeless death. As you can tell, I was moved. I don’t know if I would have gotten better without that book. I can tell you’re a smart person, and I’m sure you’d get a lot out of it too.
2 points • throw0OO0away
The Body Keeps the Score is a great book that explains trauma and how it affects the body. It gives some nice insights about trauma.
2 points • DanceNeat6222
That makes a lot of sense! The stress has to go somewhere.
My friend recently recommend this book so I just ordered it. Sounds like it may be relevant!
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma https://www.amazon.com/dp/0143127748/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_cA.xFbTXK5F7A
2 points • VanTil
I cannot recommend the book "The Body Keeps The Score" By Bessel Van Der Kolk enough
4 points • leaving2night
Or that it's not "real". That wording was also confusing to me. The abuse is actually happening. Does the woman's body and brain know that consent is involved and it's play-acting? Or are the trauma affects still hurting her mind and body whether or not it's planned out ahead of time?
When people hit you, your body responds. It changes how you think and how your body works. I am concerned about whether those effects can be consented away: https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+body+keeps+the+score&qid=1607714316&sr=8-1
1 points • Papaya-Standard
Is this from the book "The body keeps the score?" [Link]
1 points • foreigner005
I am currently reading this book. It’s about trauma. It will help you start unraveling your childhood hurts. It’s rated 5 stars in 15,000 reviews. Pretty amazing.
1 points • danny_gil
Highly recommend the book The Body Keeps the Score
1 points • WillingBeing
The Body Keeps the Score is a highly regarded book on trauma. If you’re dealing with parental and childhood issues, r/raisedbynarcissists is a good source as well.
1 points • blahvigoblah
It’s a big ol’ trigger made of paper.
But, I would suggest reading...
Again, it’ll stir some stuff up, but you could learn ALOT.
I read it once, and it was pretty emotional for me. Then, I tried to read it again, while starting a new job... I didn’t get far.
I know nothing about nothing, but what you are describing sounds like ‘freezing’, a response of our reptilian brain. Again, I know nothing, just one internet rando talking.
1 points • Lilpikka
If you're inspired to do a deep dive on the topic, you may like the book "The Body Keeps the Score." https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748
1 points • foreigner011
1 points • papermoonriver
Best book on the subject, from the most prominent PTSD researcher.
1 points • WendysLostBoys
Oh darling, you are welcome for the opportunity. Trauma is an odd thing that festers doesn't it? I was recommended a book called, "The Body Keeps Score" that might be useful on your journey toward healing. There is no shame in having trauma nor is there shame in beginning to process it.
1 points • tallerThanYouAre
The book The Body Keeps the Score outlines the means through which the “mind/body” connection (a core idea in modern psychology) can be used to identify and resolve past trauma. This approach is used extensively for the treatment of PTSD and is definitely applicable to OPs issues.
The concept is simple. You begin by reviewing a past traumatic event in a limited way. You then examine where you physically feel your body’s response (eg “my shoulders are tense”, or “I feel queasy”, etc. (don’t let me suggest what you feel, listen to your body)).
From there, you have an anchor point to recognize the feeling, and work on it therapeutically; preferably with a counselor.
For example, a person might feel uncomfortable in certain social settings at work, but not know any more than that it’s uncomfortable.
She does this work and discovers separately that when she thinks about how much she was mocked in school for her bright red hair, she feels tightness in her chest and connects that feeling to anxiety over EXPECTING to be mocked in a group.
Having this PHYSICAL awareness, she goes to a meeting at work and when the legal counsel walks in, she feels that same physical feeling. Now she knows what it is and realizes that the legal counsel’s voice reminds her of the lead kid who mocked her. She opts to go to the counsel and have a pleasant and meaningless conversation about work issues.
Seeing that this is not her tormentor, her body stops feeling anxious.
This is a trivial and artificial example of a technique that works very well to resolve past traumatic experiences.
Seek PTSD counseling for further support. It doesn’t only relate to severe PTSD (war, abuse, etc.), it relates to sometimes more deeply seated “everyday” traumatic moments that affect our identity and peace.
1 points • syntheticproduct
This book is exceptional and talk exactly about what you're describing
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma https://www.amazon.com/dp/0143127748/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_apa_i_ZGpjEb99DKG1H
1 points • rosamy1994
Hi friend. My heart is aching for you. Yes, I have been through something like this. Sounds like you had a panic attack. You didn’t break your brain, but the hormones from something as intense as this linger for a few days like a hangover. It’s totally normal to be foggy for a few days after a panic attack, but it isn’t normal to have panic attacks in the first place.
It also sounds you have CPTSD, Complex PTSD, which results from a traumatic childhood. It’s generational trauma passed down from parent to child through damaging behaviors. If you have CPTSD, it’s likely your siblings and at least one of your parents also has it. CPTSD sometimes is comorbid with other disorders, like OCD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, BPD, depression, and anxiety, but sometimes CPTSD is causing all the problems all by itself. Regardless, getting it treated will help EVERYTHING. If you want more resources, check out r/CPTSD.
In my case, I am diagnosed with CPTSD, ADHD, and anxiety disorder. Some people believe each disorder is genetic and distinct. I believe all my disorders are really just CPTSD. Treating my CPTSD has helped everything. My treatment is EMDR therapy, which uses eye movement to reprocess traumatic memories and stop them from being triggering. I highly recommend this for you. I currently do Skype therapy and it works great. If you can’t afford therapy right now, I recommend the book The Body Keeps the Score. It’s a great intro to CPTSD.
1 points • Everunfoldingblossom
Oh good. You’re welcome! Learning more about BPD has helped me understand what happened to me as a child and why mom is still the same way today. Glad to hear you’re in therapy and wishing you the best with your recovery!
You might like the book The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk (https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748/ref=nodl_)
A therapist recommended it to me and it’s been really helpful in understanding why I have certain symptoms as an adult. Cheers to you and to healing.
1 points • pepperland24
Yep, That's the one! It should look like this
1 points • seventeenninetytwo
I'm late to this conversation, but when you're ready to heal those scars I recommend picking up The Body Keeps the Score. It's an overview of the effects of trauma and healing from them by a really respected psychiatrist.
You're feeling the effects of trauma and you've got 3 years to go before you can get out of your house and I remember what that felt like and it sucked so bad it's making me cry just thinking about it and it has been almost 15 years.
One day you will get out and you can heal those scars. If you flinch when people pick up their hands, take Krav Maga classes. Anxiety, stress, vomiting, etc, learn yoga with body mindfulness. Read that book I linked, it talks a lot about stuff like that to do to heal from trauma.
I wish you the best and I hope you're doing okay.
1 points • aaronscottwhite
So often we treat parts of our experience like garbage. The aim of trauma is very real, and none of us deserve it, but there is no part of our experience that cannot be used to further connection and depth with others. Someone needs exactly the skill that we learned at the hands of our hardest moments.
The book The Body Keeps the Score is a great resource on trauma and it’s effects later on in our lives. https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748
1 points • Shi144
There is a neat book: The body keeps the score that states that even though trauma may be suppressed and/or forgotten, the body of traumatized people are much more likely to develop - among other things - autoimmune disorders. It's quite an interesting read actually
1 points • lanewyorkaise
Welcome to the community and thank you for sharing your story. I highly recommend reading The Body Keeps the Score. The author of the book Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is responsible for a lot of the research around trauma that he started with Vietnam veterans when they were being misdiagnosed with schizophrenia among other things. It helped me understand most of what I know so I can live with PTSD. I recommended it to professors who were interested in understanding how to better help me in class, and I had an attack I will never forget in class. He approached me and helped me better than anyone has, and afterward when I was thanking him he said it was thanks to a chapter from this book. I can't describe the joy I felt that he had actually read it, that someone else took the time to understand me and that it came in handy. This might prepare you for any kind of day she might be having, or at least help her understand how human it all is. Seeing his support come to action because he kept himself informed was very moving. Best of luck and don't hesitate to reach out again.
1 points • romulusungstarr
Thank you for sharing your story with us. I’m sure it isn’t easy and I hope that you are able to take care of yourself should any difficult or painful feelings arise. My heart immediately felt pulled to share this book with you: https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748
As the previous commenter stated, childhood trauma has a direct link to chronic illness in adulthood. The body internalizes much of the toxicity we experienced as children, often in a symbolic way. Personally, as similar to the other commenter, my hunch is that our healing must involve symbolic/metaphysical components in order to treat such a “mysterious” malady (at least to the medical field) as autoimmunity. Only when I started adding in more spiritual healing modalities alongside of the traditional western ones did I start making real progress in my healing (which is a continuous journey, one that I’ve never reached the end of). In any case, I send you all my best wishes and care.
1 points • TeaAitch
Sorry for the late reply.
In my humble and entirely unqualified opinion, I'm going to say that traditional therapy doesn't deal with trauma very well.Thankfully, the author of this book agrees with me.
Have a look. It's changed people's lives. Highly recommended. And much cheaper than (innefective) therapy.
1 points • imfookinlegalmate
I don't have any suggestions about the inner voice (I am sorry though that people aren't believing you, that sounds very frustrating). But your sidenote about your anxiety being physical pain caught my eye. It reminded me of a book called The Body Keeps the Score, about how trauma is held within the body. My social anxiety for example takes the form of tension in the front of my neck, so I don't speak. https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748
Suggesting it is a little hypocritical because I still haven't read it yet, but I intend to, because both my therapist and my favorite psychology professor LOVE the book and highly suggest it.
1 points • hooulookinat
The body keeps score- https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748/ref=nodl_
Also, r/cptsd to start.
1 points • joyuponwaking
I am reading Bessel Van Der Kolk’s book The Body Keeps the Score and I’m finding it very enlightening in how trauma affects the brain. Apparently it goes into trauma management techniques aside from medication later in the book. I’m really enjoying it and highly recommend it.
1 points • fancyfeasts
Very true. A good read is The Body Keeps the Score. I can relate 100% to this book.
1 points • Melia2005
The Body Keeps the Score is a good place to start if you can get it. Start researching psychology. Do you know how to tell a good research study from a bad one? It sounds like you might have introspection covered. Look into stoicism, Unitarian Universalism, and Buddhism - they all use mindfulness in different ways. You don't have to do breathing exercises, the core principle of mindfulness is to be aware of your thoughts so that you can identify the disordered ones and change them. Walking meditation worked the best for me, it's pretty much what it sounds like. Since I also have ADHD I just let my mind wander, if a thought comes up more than once I "grab it" and follow that track. Studying psychology will give you insight into how this stuff comes together, and insight into how to deal with it. The book is focused on how trauma affects people and how to deal with it. It's pretty easy to follow, but I recommend putting a 2, or more, days between when you read each chapter (I had to take breaks between each section of each chapter) so that you can process the information better. I'm not even a third of the way through it, and it's helped me to understand some stuff.
Some "feel good" phrases that helped me: you're not alone. You're not making it up. You aren't a bad or weak person, it's ok to need help to be ok. If you're into the genre, Icon For Hire has a lot of songs that help me feel better (the songs prove that I'm not alone), Get Through This by Art of Dying is my current go to inspirational song.
I'm sorry if this is unwarranted. It's just that I grew up in an area with that kind of attitude. Having mental healt problems meant you were weak willed. So I find it extremely hard to sit quietly on the sidelines when I come across stuff like this. Also, I apologize if it's disjointed, the meds I take at night make it harder for me to string stuff together coherently (yes I really should be asleep right now)
1 points • iamhalfmachine
You’re welcome! I was too, it makes so much sense to me on both an intuitive level and logically. I also recently ordered The Body Keeps the Score so I’m really looking forward to reading that.
1 points • ira_finn
Psychosomatic does not mean made up, even though people use it that way. Yes, it means something coming from the brain, but it still impacts the body in real ways. Consider this: both emotional pain and physical pain are processed in the same pain regions in the brain. While people act like there's a huge difference between the two, your brain doesn't comprehend such a difference; pain is pain, and it hurts. Whether that pain is experienced more emotionally or gets redirected into physical pain, it still hurts.
Trauma can cause these odd, diffuse, random pains. It is one way the brain can process psychological trauma: through the body. I highly recommend you and your spouse take a look at this book, The Body Keeps the Score. It's an in-depth look at how trauma affects the body and mind, and different approaches to treatment, written by a doctor/researcher.
Of course if that is the issue, you're absolutely right that "it's all in your head" is the wrong approach. The conversation should look more like this: "you've been through some really hard things in your life, and those things can have a lasting impact on your brain and body. When people experience trauma, it causes changes to the way their brain works. These changes can cause problems even after you've gotten away from a bad situation. It's possible that your brain is trying to tell you it's hurting by making your body hurt. Let's explore ways to help you feel better by addressing your mind and seeing what comes up". This conversation would be best if guided by a trauma-informed therapist, but I know not everyone has access to those resources.
Best of luck to you OP
1 points • Daullavicci
It's common that painful emotions can manifest in physical symptoms. Sounds like something in you "wants to come out" or "fears coming out", and so your throat "locks up". Like old trauma still trapped in your body.
Maybe you would like "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk. It's about how trauma affects our bodies and how the body "remembers" and holds on to trauma.
1 points • duhhhh
Unfortunately, it isn't simple. The body is different, but without therapy, the body keeps score.
1 points • kerleysmashed
This is saving my life right now. If you can afford it buy this book. You won't regret it.
If you ever need or want to talk hmu. I been thru a lot too but I want this to be about you so I'm not going to go into it here.
1 points • HoldHerHand_4EVR
1 points • daydreamsbeliever
Speaking of books also check out The Body Keeps the Score. This is what made it all click for me. https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748
1 points • Neehigh
1 points • mgtow2020
echoing another comment, you should ask the therapist directly.
I read some of Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen. Reich did later advocate for something like orgone actually existing in a way that’s similar to how Scientologists discuss thetan.
Reich and Lowen also advocated a general thesis that the body hides trauma in a physical form. Chronic tensions, or muscular armoring as they say, are the result of psychological or psychosomatic repression.
I’m an amateur, but I remember reading some of these books and thinking there’s something to it. Consider the popularity of books such as the below, and the research done on PTSD and behavioral responses in the time since etc. it may not be the same ‘school’ of thought, but it may be worth asking the therapist themself about their beliefs and treatments. good luck.