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The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
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The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  108,494 ratings  ·  9,315 reviews
A pioneering researcher and one of the world’s foremost experts on traumatic stress offers a bold new paradigm for healing.
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. Such experiences ine
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published September 25th 2014 by Viking (first published June 12th 2014)
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Sophy H I'd say it is academic in nature but it covers lots of different therapies in the second part of the book that may be helpful to you. Also there is a …moreI'd say it is academic in nature but it covers lots of different therapies in the second part of the book that may be helpful to you. Also there is a list of resources at the back. To be honest, just reading this book and discovering some of the issues behind trauma can be useful in itself. (less)
Angie hi, Michelle, this is probably too late, but here goes. I read this book just before I began therapy for something awful that had happened to me in th…morehi, Michelle, this is probably too late, but here goes. I read this book just before I began therapy for something awful that had happened to me in the past and, to be honest, it was life changing. It is quite academic, in as much as it deals with lots of neurological facts, but it is really well written and explains things very well. It can be a self-help book if you need to understand how your body processes trauma, and in doing so it helps you understand how to deal with it all. I think what makes it easy to read is the fact that the author seems to be very compassionate and articulate. (less)

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Morgan Blackledge
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Body Keeps Score is my jam. It's better than that. It's like my slammajam. This is my fave book of the year so far, by a bunch.

It's a rich treasure trove of information from the frontiers of trauma research, etiology, diagnosis and treatment. It's changing the way I do therapy and it's changing the way a interpret human behavior.

And to think. I almost didn't read it.

When I entered the mental health field I had intended to specialize in Somatic Experiencing (SE) trauma therapy. But I quickl
J.S. Lee
Sep 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
As a survivor of sexual abuse and trauma, I found this book triggering and lacking the enlightenment I expected, given the reviews. I felt the author showed more compassion for the soldiers who raped and murdered than the rape victims, and the ways in which he discussed the two left me feeling the women weren't as well humanized. Speaking about this with another trauma survivor, she shared that the author was removed from his own trauma center for creating a hostile work environment for women em ...more
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book represents everything that is groundbreakingly wonderful and and pseudoscientifically horrendous about trauma research. Individuals who suffer trauma are in need of actual help. This book contains some of the best, latest, and most effective cures for trauma sufferers, which can steer patients toward the help they need. However, van der Kolk seems wholly unable to engage in critical thinking when it comes to various treatments.

When attending courses in cognitive neuroscience and psych
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A compassionate, intelligent, and transformative book about trauma. As an aspiring clinical psychologist and writer, I look up to Bessel van der Kolk a lot. In The Body Keeps the Score, he infuses empirical, innovative research with hands-on clinical experience to explain trauma in a clear, authentic way. I loved his emphasis on incorporating both biology and social relationships into our understanding of trauma, as awful events affect both the body as well as the actual life of a struggling ind ...more
Alok Vaid-Menon
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: trauma
As someone who suffers from chronic pain I’ve found it difficult to find resources about the connection between trauma + physical pain. This is because the mind-body connection are (I think intentionally) underdeveloped in Western medicine which so often rehearses the body outside of context.

Van der Kolk shows how trauma can shape every aspect of our psychology + physiology: making us attracted to dangerous/painful situations, affecting our perception of time + space, dispossessing us of the ab
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
This is a remarkable book. There are a lot of people I would recommend this book to, but it is about trauma and so the author discusses trauma and describes traumatic events – and the more I thought about who I might recommend it to, the less I felt able to. I’m not sure I really can ‘recommend’ you read this – but then, I might be more squeamish than other people are with books on these topics. And dear god, there are people out there who do the most awful things to one another.

In one of Steve
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm not a psychologist, psychiatrist, doctor, social worker or otherwise involved in treatment or research of mental conditions or disorders. What I am is a guy in his mid-twenties who experienced multiple instances of severe medical trauma as a child, in my case open-heart surgeries at the ages of three months, six years and eleven years.

I've spent the majority of my life (read: all of it) doing my best to repress and resist the terror, anger and sadness I felt as a result of having gone throu
Feb 04, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Am I supposed to feel bad for Tom? I don't. He reports that he murdered a farmer, children, and raped a woman in a village in Vietnam to "cope" with the loss of his platoon. I don't understand why he was never criminally charged for this? Being traumatized doesn't give you free reign to do whatever you want. The author even seems to blow it off by saying something like, "I understand why this happened. Men have been getting revenge like this since Homer's time".

Now, Tom is actually parading aro
Laurie Neighbors
Gave up. The author's description of his (psychiatric, traumatized) women patients as "slender" and "gorgeous" is so annoying. (ETA: Especially considering that he is writing in the same breath about rape and incest survivors.)

Meredith Holley
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, monsters
This book was super okay. I think the title should be changed to, "PTSD for Treatment Professionals: An academic and anecdotal exploration of trauma treatments." So, that was not what I signed up for. I'll say, if you have PTSD, probably don't read this book because it has these very graphic descriptions of patient trauma experiences. I think therapists are the target audience for this book, and it provides an interesting overview of the treatment modalities available for PTSD and the research a ...more
Sep 26, 2021 added it
DNF @ 75%.

I won't give a rating to The Body Keeps the Score since I'm setting it aside with no intention of picking it back up. My expectation was that it would provide insightful tools to help deal with my own chronic neck and back pain, but it reads like a psychology textbook. As I fortunately have not suffered the severe PTSD-causing trauma of focus in the book, not much is applicable in that regard. Even viewing it from the lens of a psychology memoir, it didn't hold my interest. There I'd
Oct 01, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got to page 13 after a Vietnam war vet disclosed horrific crimes he had committed with seemingly no author acknowledgement towards the victims and the individual seeming to never have to face any consequences for his actions (still a practicing lawyer??!??!) despite disclosing this.

Other commenters note this and add that there are many voyeuristic description of female victim survivors experiences

I am done with non fiction male narrators taking an "objective neutral stance" in situations like
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
Nearly finished. Couldn’t deal with his voyeuristic description of specific traumatic events. It came across as self-inflating. It’s almost as though it gave him pleasure to share how others confided their traumas to him. Not a great book if you’re easily triggered by descriptions of sexual abuse (sometimes unnecessary graphic).
Warren Fournier
This book has received much praise and also disappointed many readers. I now understand why. If you plan to read this book, you need to understand it's two basic characteristics: 1) it's POP-SCIENCE and 2) it's TRAUMATIZING.

Let's tackle the first point. Pop-science is not science. People who write pop-science are rock stars with a degree. Most of them are administrators who spend most of their time on the lecture circuit, writing books, attending conferences, and managing a host of grant writers
Elyse Walters
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
read by the author: Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.

Kolk is one of the world’s experts on trauma. He spent three decades working with survivors.

This book is packed filled with science, research, experience, and human stories that are phenomenally informative and intense!!!!

Kolk exposes how trauma physically affects changes in the brain and body causing anxiety, rage, depression, the inability to concentrate, problems remembering, flashbacks, trusting, and forming relationships.

He examine
Gretchen Rubin
In the space of two weeks, two people recommended this book to me. A fascinating look at the body and trauma, very wide-ranging.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is...okay.
My problems with it:
Way too long, van der Kolk is long-winded and draws attention to himself, his insights, his compassion, his associations with too much regularity. The book would be a third shorter without his ego included.
Could be an academic text but not really. van der Kolk can't seem to make up his mind if he wants to provide us with the most up-to-date trauma research or a folksy case study journal. Made for tedious writing.
He describes some rape and incest victim
Patricia Ann
Nov 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
Disappointing. I so looked forward to this book from Goodreads. I found it to be disconnected and disorganized, covering so many different aspects of trauma that it dealt with none of them well. The disjunctive aspect of placing Vietnam vet PTSD along with survivors of childhood abuse was confusing. Language used was at times that of a professor, at times that of a thesis, and at others of a non professional.
van der Kolk's debate with DSM V was also unnecessary to the book. A great deal of foot
Rachel | All the RAD Reads
This book took me more than a year to work through, and I’m glad I took my time with it. The sheer number of flags on these pages will tell you how meaningful this one was for me... as a rape and sexual abuse survivor who is still battling the long term effects of PTSD, this one hit home so hard.

It gave me hope, it helped me understand deeper levels to what I’ve lived/am living through, it taught me so much about how the body holds pain and past experiences, it broke my heart as I read of stori
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dr. van der Kolk's study of trauma treatment is the most respected book lately published on the subject of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Following in the footsteps of Babette Rothschild and Peter Levine, van der Kolk takes as his focus the physical aspects of psychological injury - suggesting that work with the body is the clearest and most effective approach to healing. He is not a fan of the pharmacological. Drugs, while useful in tamping down the flood of fearsome emotional response, do litt
The Lion's Share
What fascinates me about trauma is what it does to you. It helps you survive whatever has tried to hurt you. It’s a survival instinct.

When you experience trauma your brain protects you, it literally creates a new personality on top of the one you were born with and transforms you. It increases your senses, it makes you more intelligent, but it changes your brain chemistry and that's the big problem. If your chemistry changes then you're not going to benefit in normal everyday situations because
Sep 06, 2021 rated it did not like it
A lot of women and non-binary folks read this book, so I want to say this:

This book was written by a white man who hurt women (and who knows who else) and is simply regurgitating the wisdom of Black women and women of color who have not only been through the trauma he speaks of, but who also have been saying these things and operating in trauma healing far before this yahoo put his stolen thoughts down.

Knowing the reason folks are most likely reading this book and how he made people feel viola
Heidi The Reader
Jan 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing
The Body Keeps the Score is a non-fiction book about how the body stores trauma and what you can do about it.

My most distressing take-away from this book was how common trauma is. Author Bessel van der Kolk discusses how people from all walks of life suffer from trauma.

People suffering from these kinds of afflictions believe they're the only ones. They try to numb the pain with drugs or alcohol and are easily triggered which brings back the pain of the traumatic events again and again.

This affec
Laura Tremaine
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. Don’t let the word “trauma” keep you away from this one, we’ve all had emotional and physical pain that has affected our bodies more than we realize, and I took so much from reading about how these things could manifest over time.
Nov 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
Some parts of this book were very triggering. I do not recommend it as a first choice for someone who has Complex PTSD.
Oct 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Very interesting, I skipped some of the information that got too technical for me. I'm just interested, not a professional. ...more
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
I finished this book and am writing this review 3 weeks after an article appeared in the Boston Globe reporting that Bessel van der Kolk has been fired from his own Trauma Center allegedly for "bullying" staff. This book was recommended to me a while ago, and there was such a long waiting list at the library that I had forgotten about it. I only heard about these allegations a few days ago and can only speculate about whether or not this affects his credibility as a practitioner, scientist, or a ...more
Apr 26, 2020 rated it liked it
I thought this book was interesting (though sometimes repetitive) and was fascinated to learn about bodily manifestations of trauma. Though some things I am less convinced of (some of the methods seemed questionable/pseudoscientific/new agey), other methods seemed to be paths worth exploring. Hopefully trauma research will head in a positive direction.

However, I have to give my political theorist's critique which is that sometimes, van der Kolk rightly notes the political connotations what he is
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
I'm a master's level counselor who works with people who have been traumatized. About half of the stuff in this book I liked, but the other half was rather problematic with the author's embrace of fads and poor science. Unfortunately the weaknesses of this book tainted the strengths.

I agree that child abuse and domestic violence are major problems. I also agree that we can't expect children to be mentally healthy when they live in abusive environments. I did a practicum at a children's hospital
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What the hell is this cover? 1 26 Jul 22, 2022 07:48AM  
Approaching Treating Trauma 1 11 Nov 08, 2021 06:02PM  
Approaching Treating Trauma 1 3 Nov 08, 2021 06:02PM  
Approaching Treating Trauma 1 1 Nov 08, 2021 06:00PM  
How does this translate to improving sexual experiences 1 11 Aug 03, 2021 08:15AM  
By Survivors For ...: Survivor Talk: The Body Keeps the Score 2 22 Mar 14, 2021 10:04AM  

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​Bessel van der Kolk MD spends his career studying how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences, and has translated emerging findings from neuroscience and attachment research to develop and study a range of treatments for traumatic stress in children and adults.

In 1984, he set up one of the first clinical/research centers in the US dedicated to study and treatment of traumatic stress in

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“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.” (p.97)” 375 likes
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