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About a Book: The Body Keeps the Score

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

Hardcover, 443 pages

Published September 25th 2014 by Viking (first published June 12th 2014)

This book is a masterpiece. A culmination of van der Kolk’s life’s work, it is a comprehensive overview of the effects of trauma of every kind, and a survey of treatments over the years. It is my favorite book read in 2017.

Trauma, even slight trauma, lingers in the survivor’s body in ways unimaginable. The author begins with an in-depth investigation on PTSD caused by combat. Originally referred to as "shellshock" and "battle fatigue," van der Kolk’s extensive work with returning soldiers lays the groundwork for his later study and discussion on trauma. Among other things, the author documents how sexual abuse in young girls affects their later development, affecting their hormones and even causing their bodies to undergo puberty at a younger age.

In the latter part of the book, he delves into the various treatments for trauma, including electric shock therapy, talk therapy, antidepressants, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). He takes a surprising take on medication, and states strongly his opposition to the way it has been used in the medical field. He also shares strong opinions on other topics, something I greatly admire about his writing style.

I highly recommend the audio version, read by Sean Pratt, and reading along for highlighting purposes. I also recommend reading and discussing, as it has sparked many good conversations.

Have you read this book? What was your take-away? What part rubbed you the wrong way? Which parts resonated?

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