Book Of The Week: The Body Keeps The Score 

Discussing trauma can be a very difficult subject for some, so if you think this subject may trigger you, please skip this blog. 

“The Body Keeps The Score” is an exploration of trauma and healing. Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. explains that trauma is unbearable and affects those who are directly exposed to it as well as those around them. Trauma can range from psychological to abuse and neglect. Some people experience adult-onset trauma, while others experience childhood trauma.

Moving beyond trauma is made nearly impossible by the area of our brain that is devoted to ensuring our survival. This is true even for those who try to push the traumatic experience out and act as if nothing happened in order to move on. But even the slightest hint of danger can reactivate a traumatic experience and cause the body to secrete large amounts of stress hormones. This is basically like living the traumatic experience all over again. One of many examples is a war veteran who has PTSD. 

Dr. Van Der Kolk has made it his life’s work to treat those who have experienced trauma and research which treatments work for different individuals. He has treated thousands of victims of child abuse, wars, accidents, natural disasters, and people who have suffered assaults. His work spans 30 years and includes founding the Trauma Center in Massachusetts. 

Levels Of Safety 

When a person experiences something traumatic, there are three levels of safety they may encounter. The first level is social engagement, where a person will seek help, support, or comfort from those nearby. If no one comes to assist, the flight or fight level is activated. If we cannot flee the situation or fight the attacker, a state of freeze or collapse will ensue, which is when a person will shut down.

The brain-body connection shows us how traumatic events get locked in. Whenever our brain thinks it recognizes a dangerous situation that it has seen before, the body will react.

Paths To Recovery 

But Dr. Van Der Kolk offers several paths to recovery. Trauma can be healed through modalities such as language, EMDR, yoga, and even theater. Traumatic experiences cannot be undone, so recovery includes reestablishing ownership of the body and the mind, the true self.

Final Thoughts 

This book was a very eye-opening experience for me, and I learned a great deal about myself and many others. The stories are intense yet very insightful. Since reading the book, I’ve embarked on my own healing journey through the different paths mentioned by Dr. Van Der Kolk. One of the modalities I am especially interested in getting started with is EMDR. I hope to pinpoint where some of my trauma started, work on healing from it, and establish ownership of myself without the heaviness of those experiences lurking in the background.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you’ve read the book or want to add your thoughts. And thank you for checking out the blog today!

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