A compassionate, intelligent, and transformative book about trauma. As an aspiring clinical psychologist and writer, I look up to Bessel van der Kolk a lot. In The Body Keeps the Score, he infuses empirical, innovative research with hands-on clinical experience to explain trauma in a clear, authentic way. I loved his emphasis on incorporating both biology and social relationships into our understanding of trauma, as awful events affect both the body as well as the actual life of a struggling individual. He clarifies many misconceptions by stressing how many victims of child abuse often go ignored when compared to war veterans, and he argues with much logic that we cannot just use drugs to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses. We must treat the whole person.
Dr. van der Kolk steers this book in a hopeful direction by discussing many treatment strategies for PTSD. He includes descriptions and research studies to support a gamut of methodologies, ranging from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to Eye Movement Desensitization Therapy (EMDR) to Neurofeedback, and more. In particular I enjoyed reading about the Internal Family System approach (IFS), a mode of psychotherapy I had never heard of, which I found enlightening and holistic. Dr. van der Kolk emphasizes the importance of getting back in touch with our emotions and our bodies after trauma, and he gives many practical ways to do so, like talk therapy and yoga, just to name a few.
Dr. van der Kolk's genuine heart elevates this book above others. His vulnerability with his own story models a message for all of us to live by: only by confronting and accepting the past can we learn to live in the present. He writes about the importance of de-stigmatizing PTSD and mental illness, and he relates the issue of trauma to several societal factors, like the prolific amount of gun violence in the United States and the lack of socioemotional education given to our kids. Dr. van der Kolk, with great humility and insight, details his admiration for each of his clients - because they have overcome such devastating hardship, and they have had the courage to share their stories with him, and in some cases, others as well.
A stellar book I would recommend to anyone interested in trauma, mental health, or science in general. I noted so many well-written passages and cannot wait to reference this book in the future. I hope more people read The Body Keeps the Score - it would improve our society a lot.