The Body Keeps the Score Book Review

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A Healing and Learning Source

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. has become a staple in many lives healing through trauma over the last few years. It is one of those reads that become both enlightening and a useful tool through the many stories, discussions, and studies throughout the book. The author states early on in the book’s prologue: “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.”

Feeling Seen and Understood

The transformative power of an “Ah-ha” moment is unparalleled. It’s that flicker of understanding, the clarity that bridges the gap between confusion and comprehension. And as you turn the pages of this book, those moments will multiply, providing comfort and validation in knowing you’re not alone.

The Author’s Expertise: A Blend of Experience and Knowledge

Drawing from over three decades of dedicated work with trauma survivors and collaborations with renowned trauma experts, the author offers profound insights into healing. Among the many methods discussed, the emphasis on movement, mindful breathing, and consistent self-care stands out. These practices have proven instrumental in alleviating PTSD symptoms.

A Deep Dive into Trauma’s Many Layers

This book isn’t a casual read; it’s a powerful exploration of trauma’s intricate tapestry. Beyond its academic foundation, it resonates on a personal level, delving deep into the nuanced layers and labels of trauma that many bear silently.

Revisiting Childhood Trauma and Its Lasting Impact

Van der Kolk embarks on a revelatory journey back through his studies on childhood trauma, particularly the nuanced form known as Complex Trauma. This work challenges conventional psychiatry’s understanding of trauma, shedding light on its multi-faceted nature.

With millions reporting child abuse annually and hundreds of thousands diagnosed with PTSD, understanding trauma’s vast scope is essential. Throughout the narrative, four fundamental truths emerge:

  • Humans can Hurt, but They Also Heal: Our resilience is as much a part of us as our vulnerabilities.
  • Healing Through Unity: Recovery is amplified within the embrace of a supportive community.
  • The Body’s Healing Power: Our bodies harbor the potential to be our sanctuary, to soothe us in tumultuous times.
  • The Need for Societal Change: Collective policy shifts are paramount to facilitate widespread healing.


A Must-Read for All Affected by Trauma

While it’s impossible to distill the vast reservoir of wisdom contained within this book in a single write-up, its significance is undeniable. If trauma has touched your life or that of someone close, this book is more than just informative—it can be transformative. It offers valuable insights, potentially acting as a beacon of hope and empowerment on your healing journey.

Traumatic memories function differently, often lurking in hypervigilant corners of our minds. Unlocking these memories and creating a safe space for healing is a formidable but rewarding challenge. May this book be a companion on your path, offering keys to understanding and ultimately, healing.

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