Friday, July 3, 2020

Book Review: The Body Keeps the Score

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M. D.

Did you ever wonder why someone flies off the handle at the slightest provocation? There may be good reason. In this book Dr. Van Der Kolk clearly explains the imprint of trauma on our lives and offers ways to combat negative forces that shaped us in ways that disrupt relationships.

Our experiences affect our minds and our bodies. Our thinking and emotions are shaped by our past, according to Van Der Kolk.

This book was more detailed than I expected, but using case studies, the author clearly made his points in every chapter. The book delves deeply into the misbehavior of children and the post-traumatic-stress symptoms of veterans. But the analysis and case studies make it helpful to anyone seeking to understand their own reactions or the reactions of others. It was very understandable and enjoyable reading.

Van Der Kolk’s insight makes sense: “If trauma is encoded in heartbreaking and gut-wrenching sensations, then our first priority is to help people . . . manage relationships. Where traumatized children are concerned, the last things we should be cutting the from school schedules are the activities that can do precisely that: chorus, physical education, recess and anything else that involves movement, play, and other forms of joyful engagement.”

Broken into five parts, the book looks at what constitutes trauma and its effect on the brain. Part 5 offers “Paths to Recovery” with chapters on various approaches including the benefits of participating in theater. In a day that promotes quick fixes through medications, this man makes a strong case for alternate routes to healing.

Published by Penguin Books, the book includes an appendix, extensive notes and an index, which I found helpful. I especially recommend this book for school teachers, Sunday school teachers and veterans’ family members, but it will be very helpful to anyone seeking to better understand others and themselves.

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