Brilliant primer on psychological trauma and its treatment: “The Body Keeps the Score”

In my continuing efforts to learn about psychological trauma wrought by workplace bullying, mobbing, and harassment, I’m diving into Dr. Bessel van der Kolk‘s The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (2014). It is the most lucid, accessible, and hopeful book about psychological trauma and possibilities for successful treatment that I’ve encountered, authored by one of the pioneering experts in the field.

Dr. van der Kolk is the founder and medical director of the Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts. Here’s a blurb about his book from his webpage:

. . . (H)e transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga, and other therapies. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score offers proven alternatives to drugs and talk therapy—and a way to reclaim lives.

The Body Keeps the Score does not specifically discuss bullying behaviors as triggers for psychological trauma. But that absence should not chase away anyone who recognizes the trauma-inducing qualities of work abuse and wants to understand the dynamics of PTSD and its expanding array of promising treatment options.

A decade ago, when I began studying PTSD in connection with my work on workplace bullying, I despaired to find erudite analyses of this condition, concluding with pessimistic assessments on the likelihood of successful treatments. This book sounds a much more hopeful tone, grounded in leading edge research and practice.

I’m going to be saying more about The Body Keeps the Score in future posts, but for now I’m pleased to report that this is a potential difference maker for many who are experiencing the ravages of abusive work environments.

2 responses

  1. The title is perfect. As a victim, I am still just “noticing” how my mind, emotions, spirit, and body is different and reacts differently to situations. For example, post trauma, I especially have a difficult time with numbers, dates, and chronological order. ” (H)e transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust.” Within these categories, I am not the person I was before. I would volunteer to be a part of his research, as I am inspired that he has techniques that can restore the self, especially sans medication.

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