Sarah's Reviews > The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel A. van der Kolk
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it was amazing

For anyone interested in mental health (and it often strikes me as weird how anyone could *not* be, given we all have minds), The Body Keeps The Score is well worth getting to grips with. Whilst it’s focus is psychological trauma, and case histories focus on the victims of child abuse and war veterans with PTSD, it is not a work which is only relevant to those seeking treatment or therapists treating trauma sufferers.

The book explores how trauma fragments the mind AND body - showing how psychological trauma breaks connections not just within the brain (as Freud etc posited) but also between mind and body, and then examines a myriad of different ways of how these reconnections can be reforged.

It can at moments be triggering - when it touched on experiences close to my own I could feel myself reel a bit, and others may find it too hard for that reason, but that would be my only caveat. For most readers it’ll be worth the risk as the nuggets of wisdom it contains are invaluable.

It talks extensively about our fight or flight response (which I wrote about in my Making Friends with Anxiety book, as understanding that better helped me better manage my own anxious disposition) and also goes methodically but captivatingly through a vast amount of treatment options, so looks at CBT, mindfulness, EMDR, yoga, dance, drama, family role play, and so much more. It’s scientifically based, so not whimsical or hocus-pocus-y, featuring lots of studies and number crunching. Yet it’s also incredibly moving, empathetic and even packs a political punch in its summary too.

I was drawn to because the novel I’m writing explores PTSD (as well as lighter themes), but as I listened I kept thinking of people it would resonate with and be so useful for - teachers dealing with kids with ADHD, foster carers, rape counsellors, those who’ve had near-death experiences health-wise - I have friends to whom these apply.

Yet then I thought ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ is relevant to *all* of us because Covid-19 has been the most collectively traumatic experience we’ve been through worldwide since WW2. Certainly I’ve felt my own mind fragment somewhat at various points over the last few months as I try to process what’s going on and manage the increasing needs of my elderly mum. My sleep is all over the shop for a start, hence writing and sharing this review at 2am!

Lastly, I’ve always loved Matisse’s cut outs and the dancing figure seems to capture the sense physical and mental freedom which is ultimately what healing offers. In other words, this is an optimistic book, in spite of the weightiness of its subject. Anyway, there’s no need to just take my word for it; look at other reviews on line and there are thousands from readers and listeners (it’s beautifully read on audio) who feel similarly. Inevitably there’s the odd detractor but they’re few and far between.

What an incredible life’s work. What a compassionate, comprehensive resource. If you read it or listen, let me know. I’d love your thoughts.
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Reading Progress

June 19, 2020 – Started Reading
June 26, 2020 – Finished Reading
June 29, 2020 – Shelved

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