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

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

by Bessel van der Kolk

Read an excerpt from the highly acclaimed new book by world renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk, MD.
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The following is an excerpt from The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, MD. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Bessel van der Kolk, MD, 2014.

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Marilyn was a tall, athletic-looking woman in her mid-thirties who worked as an operating-room nurse in a nearby town. She told me that a few months earlier she’d started to play tennis at her sports club with a Boston fireman named Michael. She usually steered clear of men, she said, but she had gradually become comfortable enough with Michael to accept his invitations to go out for pizza after their matches. They’d talk about tennis, movies, their nephews and nieces—nothing too personal. Michael clearly enjoyed her company, but she told herself he didn’t really know her.

One Saturday evening in August, after tennis and pizza, she invited him to stay over at her apartment. She described feeling “uptight and unreal” as soon as they were alone together. She remembered asking him to go slow but had very little sense of what had happened after that. After a few glasses of wine and a rerun of "Law & Order," they apparently fell asleep together on top of her bed. At around two in the morning, Michael turned over in his sleep. When Marilyn felt his body touch hers, she exploded—pounding him with her fists, scratching and biting, screaming, “You bastard, you bastard!” Michael, startled awake, grabbed his belongings and fled. After he left, Marilyn sat on her bed for hours, stunned by what had happened. She felt deeply humiliated and hated herself for what she had done, and now she’d come to me for help in dealing with her terror of men and her inexplicable rage attacks.
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Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Bessel van der Kolk, MD, 2014.
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Bessel van der KolkBessel A. van der Kolk, M.D., has been active as a clinician, researcher and teacher in the area of posttraumatic stress and related phenomena since the 1970s. His work integrates developmental, biological, psychodynamic and interpersonal aspects of the impact of trauma and its treatment. His book Psychological Trauma was the first integrative text on the subject, painting the far ranging impact of trauma on the entire person and the range of therapeutic issues which need to be addressed for recovery.

Dr. van der Kolk and his various collaborators have published extensively on the impact of trauma on development, such as dissociative problems, borderline personality and self-mutilation, cognitive development in traumatized children and adults, and the psychobiology of trauma. He was co-principal investigator of the DSM IV Field Trials for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. His current research is on how trauma affects memory processes and brain imaging studies of PTSD.

Dr. van der Kolk is past President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School, Medical Director of the Trauma Center, and Director of the National Complex Trauma Treatment Network at Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts. He has taught at universities and hospitals across the United States and around the world, including Europe, Africa, Russia, Australia, Israel, and China. His latest book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma was published in September 2014.

He is currently teaching though an intensive online Certificate Program in Traumatic Stress Studies.  Click here for information.
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