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Trauma and Memory: Brain and Body in a Search for the Living Past

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  440 ratings  ·  42 reviews
In Trauma and Memory, bestselling author Dr. Peter Levine (creator of the Somatic Experiencing approach) tackles one of the most difficult and controversial questions of PTSD/trauma therapy: Can we trust our memories? While some argue that traumatic memories are unreliable and not useful, others insist that we absolutely must rely on memory to make sense of past experience ...more
ebook, 206 pages
Published October 27th 2015 by North Atlantic Books (first published October 20th 2015)
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Peter Levine is really a revolutionary in the field of psychology dealing with trauma recovery and I'm so grateful I came across his work a few years back.

"Trauma and Memory" isn't a self-help, how-to book but an overview explanation of how trauma works, gets processed, and released, what part memory plays in perpetuating and triggering trauma and the different types of memory we have.

For those not yet familiar with Levine's work, this is a must read and 5 star material. For those who are famil
Claudia Putnam
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Great book, a classic, but now that The Body Keeps the Score is out... well if you had to choose, you should probably read the latter. However, you'd be well served reading both.
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Preface: I believe that the author is an incredible leader in this field and has been doing very important, groundbreaking work in trauma research and treatment. He's invaluable in the literature, and so I feel guilty for nitpicking below. So I'll start off by saying, it's pretty impossible to make a perfect book, and so the entirety of my criticism really doesn't amount to much! Overall well done, and a book I would recommend regarding the science of trauma.

I was torn between a 3 and a 5 on thi
Rayel Long Soul System
Brief but interesting. Three case studies of trauma.
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it
The strength of this book is Levine’s defining and categorizing types of implicit and explicit memories and his offering various case studies. Still, even as a trauma therapist (EMDR is my primary modality) wanting to learn how to apply some of this knowledge and some SE tools in practice, I struggled with concrete takeaways in terms of practical applications. I got lost as some others have shared in their reviews in some of the details. I’d love more concrete tools for clinicians.
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading for laypeople and clinicians interested in the subject. Levine presents historical and new clinical observations in an accessible, thoroughly readable manner.
Bridgey Widge
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Knowing that many people have benefited from somatic experiencing, it was helpful to read (on my case hear) explanations to how it works and some of the neuroscience.

The narrator sounded like the moviefone guy, which may have given some of the content a more ominous and sensational edge than Levine intended.

With that being said - I take issue when any therapeutic approach attempts to demonize another to assert that it’s on top. The whole discussion of prolonged exposure in this book makes it ou
Michael D
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great primer of Levine's work that has left me wanting more. I am immediately reading 'In an Unspoken Voice' because of this...
Jean-Paul Eberle
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, trauma
A commendable contribution to the field of trauma therapy. Peter Levine, awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the United States Association of Body Psychotherapy Conference in 2010, truly has a gift for explaining potentially dense material in a palatable and digestible manner.

Levine reminds me of my philosophy professor from college, Jacques Taminiaux; I firmly believed Taminiaux could have taught the phenomenology of Jacques Derrida (who is extremely dense to read) to a classroom of 5th
Stephanie Goldsmith
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book gives a comprehensive yet digestible explanation for how trauma memories uniquely code in our brains and bodies. It's heavy on the neuroscience, but if you're like me and into that, you'll love this book. He includes several personal and clinical examples to illustrate the denser concepts and that makes it a very enjoyable read. I just love Peter Levine's work and incorporate many of his techniques and concepts into my own professional practice. I recommend this to mental health practi ...more
suzy face
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this book in a day. I’m a pretty hardcore believer in applied behavior analysis which is pretty scientific and data driven. I am also very interested in better understanding trauma. This book was written in a way that would certainly helpful for individuals who are less scientific get a better understanding of both trauma and memory. Throughout the book some credence was given to observable behaviors and traits of trauma. Overall a pretty mentalist approach. Which is totally okay if that’ ...more
Natalia Agovic
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the best book I have read this year on psychological insights. Trauma and its influence are marvellously explained, presenting various insights on how it affects other people as well as the ones suffering. It presents us with an in-depth understanding of Trauma and PTSD by showing us scientific facts that are very well explained and explored. This book is accessible to any reader: an informed one as well as an uninformed one. Excellent read that I would certainly recommend.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Anything by Peter Levine is a must for understanding how trauma impacts our brains & bodies. This book explains the various manifestations of memory and what must occur in many cases to bring someone through trauma rather then relegating them to an infinite pattern of reliving it. What this book lacked that I hoped it wouldn't were the practical steps and tools for Somatic Experiencing. In other words, therapist readers will be made smarter by this work, but not necessarily more skilled. ...more
Aletheia Murphree
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Educational. I recommend this book to anyone that wants to heal from PTSD.
I believe I can get a grip on my PTSD and face it head on now after reading this. Peter goes into great detail from stage one, when the trauma happened to the end stage, offering insight and guidance on mental and physical exercises that allow you to work through your past trauma distress that plagues your present time. You no longer have to relive the anguish.
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good summary and clarification of what trauma is, though a lot of the stories I've seen in his other writing. I found the memory lens used for this discussion helpful, and I'm still glad I read it, though I could probably have skipped the futuristic discussion on drugs that may someday erase memories.
Dave McCarthy
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Provided thorough understanding of inter generational trauma backed my fascinating studies. Was quite thick in language and concepts for the neophyte therapist. I listened to this on audible but am definitely keen to get the book an re read. I have a deeper understanding of trauma and memory having reading this book.
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book. Hard to conceptualize this groundbreaking information, but definitely intriguing. I especially enjoyed one of the last chapters titled "The Future of Memory Erasure---A Fool's Folly?"
Derek Thue
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting perspectives treatment ideas on dealing with trauma in a
nonstressful nonthreatening way. Wish there would've been more sections on how to better use this in treatment or where to get trained in this philosophy .
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
At last I get it. This book gives a clear and easily understood explanation about the different types of memory stored in the body and just how each plays their part in the memory of trauma and the remodeling of that memory to enable healing.
Quinn Arruda
Clear, but probably far more useful to therapists than to the layperson. I didn't get as much out of this as I got out of Bessel Van der Kolk's The Body Keeps the Score, though admittedly part of that was because the focus was much narrower here.

Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Definitely had some interesting parts and good research. I would have rated it higher but I can't get over how he describes prolonged exposure therapy. His description is way off the mark and clearly lacks a true understanding of what this therapy is.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
What can you expect from someone who:
- Puts their PhD on the book cover
- Quotes Buddhists and other raging irationalists, even worse: Freud
- Believes that moral judgement depends on emotions. Is a whim worshiper
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On target, very elucidating, but difficult to implement the processes presented.
Marianne el wahsh
May 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
nothing new. All the case study that he puts is very shallow .

his book :" in an unspoken voice" is more stronger, although i am still in chapter 5 in it.
Erwin Christensen
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting perspective on how our body-mind relation works
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health
preferred 'in an unspoken voice'
Joy Kaplan
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every PTSD survivor should read this book
Michael Oaster
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting case studies of traumatic memory. Evaluates both physical trauma (injuries, TBIs) and emotional trauma (PTSD)
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Scientific Research included
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that helped me to understand what memory really was, and how our bodies store trauma. The end chapter on generational trauma was an eye-opener as well.
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Peter A.Levine, Ph.D. is the originator and developer of Somatic Experiencing® and the Director of The Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute. He holds doctorate degrees in Medical Biophysics and in Psychology. During his thirty five-year study of stress and trauma, Dr. Levine has contributed to a variety of scientific and popular publications.

Dr. Levine was a stress consultant for NASA during the

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