Survivor Book of the Month – February 21

Survivor Book of the Month

A good self-help book can be an excellent way to kick start, continue or bolster a Survivor’s healing journey.  Every month I will bring to you a book that has helped my own recovery.

The second book I offer up receives a great many accolades from the survivors in our community.  It also has over 23000 five star ratings on Amazon, so it needs little introduction!  What does it for me is the way the author, Bessel van der Kolk, lays out the information and takes the survivor through each chapter, sensitively and with passion.  It is hard work in places but the challenge isn’t insurmountable. In fact, the book challenges the survivor in a gentle, thoughtful way.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma
by Bessel van der Kolk


buy at amzon

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

Paperback – 24 Sept. 2015
by Bessel van der Kolk

21,300 ratings

‘Dr. van der Kolk’s masterpiece combines the boundless curiosity of the scientist, the erudition of the scholar, and the passion of the truth teller’ Judith Herman, author of Trauma and Recovery

The effects of trauma can be devastating for sufferers, their families and future generations. Here one of the world’s experts on traumatic stress offers a bold new paradigm for treatment, moving away from standard talking and drug therapies and towards an alternative approach that heals mind, brain and body.

‘Van der Kolk draws on thirty years of experience to argue powerfully that trauma is one of the West’s most urgent public health issues … Packed with science and human stories’ New Scientist

‘Breathtaking in its scope and breadth, a seminal work by one of the preeminent pioneers in trauma research and treatment’ Peter A. Levine, author of In An Unspoken Voice


An incredible book on trauma (William Leith, ‘Books of the Year’ Evening Standard) Van der Kolk draws on 30 years of experience to argue powerfully that trauma is one of the West’s most urgent public health issues… Packed with science and human stories … van der Kolk has a lot to say, and the struggle and resilience of his patients is very moving (New Scientist) The Body Keeps the Score is clear, fascinating, hard to put down, and filled with powerful case histories. Van der Kolk, the eminent impresario of trauma treatment, who has spent a career bringing together diverse trauma scientists and clinicians and their ideas, while making his own pivotal contributions, describes what is arguably the most important series of breakthroughs in mental health in the last thirty years. We’ve known that psychological trauma fragments the mind. Here we see not only how psychological trauma also breaks connections within the brain, but also between mind and body, and learn about the exciting new approaches that allow people with the severest forms of trauma to put all the parts back together again (Norman Doidge, author of The Brain That Changes Itself)

This is masterpiece of powerful understanding and brave heartedness, one of the most intelligent and helpful works on trauma I have ever read. Dr. Van der Kolk offer a brilliant synthesis of clinical cases, neuroscience, powerful tools and caring humanity, offering a whole new level of healing for the traumas carried by so many (Jack Kornfied, author of A Path With Heart)

Dr. van der Kolk’s masterpiece combines the boundless curiosity of the scientist, the erudition of the scholar, and the passion of the truth teller (Judith Herman, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; author of Trauma and Recovery)

About the Author

Dr Bessel van der Kolk is one of the world’s foremost experts on traumatic stress. He is the founder and medical director of the Trauma Center in Boston, USA, and the director of the Complex Trauma Treatment Network. A past professor of psychiatry at Boston University Medical School, Dr van der Kolk is the author of several scholarly books and over a hundred scientific articles.

Survivor Reviews

This is the greatest book I have ever read.
It is a lifetime of knowledge (and it is clear that it had taken a very long time to write) from a practising clinician who, as far as I can tell, is THE most well-informed person on the subject, all in one book.
It can be applied to you. Therapy like this would cost thousands, and that is even if you have the good fortune to find a therapist who knows anything about it.
It is perfectly written and laid out, starting with explanations about the problem and ending with explanations of how to recover.
At first it was hard to read because I was only just coming to terms with having childhood trauma, and was still feeling very upset about it. However the great thing about a book is that you can take as long as you like to finish it. As I read more I understood more and more and began to feel more and more free, understood, and positive. There is SO MUCH information in here, and it is all extremely useful and interesting. I often read one sentence several times because it made such an impact on me, and after some pages (most of them!) I would think for ten minutes until I read more.
This is the most helpful book I have read on the subject, and I have read a lot. It has taken me a long time to read, but recovery takes a long time. I think that if you have not been traumatised and are just reading it for interest that you would read it quickly, as it is such a great book. I feel like it has transformed me.

What fascinates me about trauma is what it does to you. It helps you survive whatever has tried to hurt you. It’s a survival instinct.

When you experience trauma your brain protects you, it literally creates a new personality on top of the one you were born with and transforms you. It increases your senses, it makes you more intelligent, but it changes your brain chemistry and that’s the big problem. If your chemistry changes then you’re not going to benefit in normal everyday situations because your flight, fight and freeze part of your brain is now on over drive, your hypothalamus is now stuck in hyper drive and your prefrontal cortex becomes neglected and undeveloped and in a contradicting to making you more intelligent now makes you less able to learn by constantly injecting stress hormones into your blood stream.

A lot is crammed into this book, over 30 years of research into trauma and I agree with the author, trauma is so important and so relevant in our society. Most people experience some form of trauma throughout their lives, but it seems the younger and more undeveloped you are the more profound the effect is later on in life. It literally passes down from generation to generation and we still don’t discuss or treat trauma as a norm. If everyone was more knowledgeable about trauma and how it affects us then I think our medical advice and how we treat people would be far different from what it is today.

I find it easy to notice when someone has experienced trauma. It affects their persona, but there are visual and acoustic clues as well. It helps to know if someone has trauma because you have to adapt to their reasoning and thinking which can often be off kilter.

This book is brilliant for psychologists and people who want to learn more about themselves and trauma. It has a diverse knowledge or different applications which are proven to work. Obviously CBT is the most common, but two more I find very interesting and fascinating for trauma treatment is EMDR and Yoga. Both I think are brilliant and I was aware of before the book, but this book shows just what impact it has on masses.

I genuinely feel like when it comes to psychology and nutritional sciences, the USA is years ahead of everyone else especially the UK. I really hope a lot of this work makes it over here sooner rather than later.

Knowing more about trauma means we can help heal our society, prevent abuse and even enrich ourselves.

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

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