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The Body Keeps the Score

Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Narrated by: Sean Pratt
Length: 16 hrs and 17 mins
5 out of 5 stars (295 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A pioneering researcher and one of the world’s foremost experts on traumatic stress offers a bold new paradigm for healing Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Such experiences inevitably leave traces on minds, emotions, and even on biology. Sadly, trauma sufferers frequently pass on their stress to their partners and children. Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he 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 neuro feedback, 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.

©2014 Bessel van der Kolk, MD (P)2014 Gildan Media LLC

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    4 out of 5 stars

A book of hope

This book tells you about the evolving domain of trauma. This is in my opinion not a self help book. Rather it is explaining the cutting edge methods that can help people. You still need a specialist to help you. But at least you will know about some of the scientifically proven method you can seek if you need help.
Oh yeah and the traumatic patient stories that are conveyed may affect you too. It sure added stress to my life and if you have a full plate, hearing those stories may negatively affect you, especially if you are moderately high in agreeableness and openness.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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"Being able to feel safe with other people..."

"...is probably the single most important aspect of mental health."

The Body Keeps Score by Bessel Van der Kolk MD., is a thoroughly researched, tragic, and fascinating view into research trauma in the United States. While it can be an egregiously hard read at times, Van der Kolk, through decades of study puts together a convincing argument that child abuse is the biggest factor in today's climbing numbers of people who suffer from PTSD and depression. The book contains detailed accounts of how trauma manifests, is confronted, and treated.

Sean Pratt is a compelling, soft-spoken narrator and does the book justice.

As someone who works in the field of entertainment and often leverages trauma for story-telling purposes, I would consider this a must-read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Indispensable for those with PTSD

While the narrator tends to be a tiny bit stodgy while still quite warm, this book is absolutely indispensable and necessary for anyone who has suffered any kind of serious trauma that has left a lasting mark. The research and effort that this fellow has done for those who suffer from PTSD isis incredibly intuitive, gentle, and comes from a place of genuine care, as opposed to many people in the psychiatric industry these days.
For those with PTSD, I caution you that this book can be a little intense to listen to. Make sure you're in a safe place and head space when you listen to it. Most importantly, make sure to share with somebody you care about and/or a therapist that you're seeing all the things that you've learned from the book so that they can help you remember and gently reinforce these wonderfully helpful practices and treatments.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Must read for every human being

There is not much to say besides the fact that everyone should read this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Understanding Trauma, made accessible

The Body Keeps the Score makes sense of the complexities of trauma. It helps professionals and the public understand the impacts, the causes and, most importantly, the strategies for managing this pervasive problem. Thank you vdk for your no nonsense and empathetic work!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profound and astonishing

I've never experienced trauma but this book was still worth listening to. I highly recommend.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Profound

Due to my own personal life experiences and past trauma this was a tough listen but so cathartic. It gives one the language to have a genuine and in-depth dialogue with others and most importantly one's self.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Really brings light to the mechanics behind Trauma

This book provides incredibly powerful insights into our brains and how they are affected by adverse experiences and gives a variety of alternative therapies that can help. It also faces the reader with their own possible story if trauma. Highly recommend it!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Very enlightening!

If you have someone in your life that’s been through trauma I highly recommend this book. You’ll understand them in a a whole new way., and likely have more empathy for their behaviour. If only they had easy access to the types of therapies discussed, if only it were that easy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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really enjoyed reading this book.

looking forward to using some of the strategies I've learned in this book. I found the narrator was very expressive and didn't make it boring.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul F.
  • 2015-03-17

There's a Reason for the High Ratings

What an excellent book. Those with PTSD will benefit the most, but anyone who has experienced trauma or knows someone who has will also benefit. Teachers, counselors, therapists and others will gain a better understanding on how and why the body experiences and hides the trauma.

122 of 125 people found this review helpful

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  • colleen geis
  • 2015-05-06

Unbelievably clear and Life Changing

I am tremendously grateful to have stumbled upon this book after the suggestion from my therapist to try EMDR. Facts laid out clearly and succinctly. I now understand that the symptoms of the trauma I've endured in my life are a result of brain and chemical patterning in order to survive - not that I can't just get my shit together and move forward. I wish it had not taken me so long, medication and lots of self doubt to get here. I am excited and scared to take real steps forward in the reconstruction of my brain/mind and memories, and start moving toward true joy. With so much gratitude. If you struggle from a past that inhibits you from enjoying the now. Please read/listen to this book. Bessel Van der Kolk is a hero of the human spirit, and an advocate of all those suffering from the deep tracks that early trauma dig for the soul. He's giving us a ladder with this book. There is hope. Xoxo

304 of 313 people found this review helpful

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  • Amy W.
  • 2015-06-05

Terrific book!

Book is just great. It alternates between childhood trauma and adulthood trauma, so it's applicable to both areas.

71 of 73 people found this review helpful

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  • Penny K
  • 2015-02-23

An intense, transforming journey, inner and outer!

If you could sum up The Body Keeps the Score in three words, what would they be?

revealing essential effective

What did you like best about this story?

I deeply appreciate the opportunity to learn about all the caring, devoted, persevering and generous people who care about traumatized children and adults and carry out their effective methods of treatment without fanfare or adequate funding. They deserve greater recognition by psychological and psychiatric professionals, by the National Institute of Mental Health and by congress.

Which scene was your favorite?

N/A

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Sometimes I was distressed to hear about the traumatic events of some lives, yet I was inspired by the capacity of the methods outlined by Dr van der Kolk to transform the minds and lives of traumatized individuals.

Any additional comments?

I want to congratulate Sean Pratt, the narrator, whose tone conveyed empathy as well as outrage, always mildly and within bounds, but nonetheless vividly.

89 of 93 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan Damour
  • 2015-01-31

The must read for individuals and loved ones

the narration was excellent and the content blew me away. The best work on trauma.

50 of 52 people found this review helpful

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  • KrsinD
  • 2015-02-12

Profound

Just finished this book. Heading right back in to listen again

I'm a voracious reader. Read many different topics. Usually read about 250-300 books per year. 99 percent are nonfiction.

This book is hands down the best book I've ever come across. Admittedly, I'm diagnosed with C-PTSD. So the topic is of personal interest to me, and psychology is a topic I am very well read in.

139 of 147 people found this review helpful

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  • Esther
  • 2017-01-15

First ray of hope to heal body trauma

Any additional comments?

I’m always looking for new information on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), having been diagnosed with it many years ago. I’ve been working with therapists ever since. When I read the work of Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D., I believe he is an awesome font of information on the subject. Having been a sufferer himself apparently, PTSD was quite a motivator for his choice of academic studies! What I especially appreciated in this book is learning of the new treatments he has been developing that are more “somatic” in nature than talk therapy and drugs.

As I understand it, PTSD is a shock which the body has somehow endured and which requires special attention because the “injury” can be reactive. Somehow sufferers must work to release the shock, which gets embedded in the brain, the emotional response, and even the biology of the body. His book gave me several ideas of what somatic kinds of treatments with which I can get engaged, besides talk therapy, which is incomplete by itself. Some of his current projects include yoga for PTSD, theater to build confidence and self-esteem, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and other treatment combinations. He has done much drug testing as well, and his studies indicate it is usually preferable to work with the body directly without the use of drugs.

Sadly, trauma sufferers frequently pass on their stress to their partners and children. His studies now show that he has had success with patients who have been able to work through the issues and the sufferers have been able to reclaim their lives. Where PTSD once sucked the pleasure out of the lives of sufferers, his patients have had success in overcoming their blockages to personal happiness. This book offers proven solutions way beyond drugs and talk therapy in helping his clients salvage their lives.

By actually “re-arranging” the brain’s wiring, his treatments offer hope to Veterans and their families, adult children of alcoholics, as well as people who were abused sexually, physically, or mentally. Such experiences inevitably leave their scars, all which require healing. People from all over the world now visit his clinic for solutions to their suffering.

He shows how the areas of the brain controlling pleasure, engagement, control, and trust which have been shut down by trauma can be reactivated through the innovative treatments discussed in his book. Trauma “sufferers” have literally been transformed into “survivors” as a result of the doctor’s work in the field of healing trauma. I recommend this book to professionals and lay people alike who are interested in learning about overcoming the ravages of personal trauma. I listened to the audible version and can testify that this book is easily understood whether or not one has academic designations after their name.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Aceaussie
  • 2015-02-28

Destined to be a classic

A very comprehensive book exploring PTSD and the effects upon the brain. The author explains the latest technology and methods available to reserve the effects. Very well done, an excellent read.

69 of 73 people found this review helpful

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  • Stacy E
  • 2016-10-01

This WILL change the world

Where does The Body Keeps the Score rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I have been on an audio book journey to healing my own trauma. This book feels like the Capstone. For those who have not experienced trauma, you may be surprised and shocked by some of the content of the book. For those of us who have lived through trauma, not much is shocking anymore. It is a rude awakening to the world around us, but an awakening is better than living unconsciously and unaware of the pain that exists around us and within ourselves. This is the bedrock for compassion (towards ourselves and others).

What other book might you compare The Body Keeps the Score to and why?

For 3 years I have been struggling with traumatic stress. At first I was relieved to know I had generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. (At least I wasn't so called crazy.) However, these diagnoses made it seem like my experience was something to get rid of. After a long journey and many wrong turns, I learned this is simply not possible or the path to personal "freedom." However, EVERY book I have read points in the same direction. The Body Keeps the Score is different because it takes the gritty content of trauma and HUMANIZES it. Your view of the world and yourself may seem ugly at first through the eyes of trauma, but you have to get through your fear to see the beauty on the other side.

Which scene was your favorite?

I first saw a you tube video of Bessel van der Kolk over Memorial Weekend 2016. That day I remember I took the first full breath that filled my body in almost 2 and a half years. There was something about his words that just resonated with my experience and I realized that I am okay and I will be okay. This is a human experience, albeit a shake you up and spit you out on the other side experience.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

If we REALLY want to heal the world...

Any additional comments?

I cried the other day and it felt so good. It wasn't a fear cry, but tears that felt so refreshing. I still have a long journey ahead, but The Body Keeps the Score is a victory in my book. XO

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Yates
  • 2016-08-11

Thought-provoking and detailed

What made the experience of listening to The Body Keeps the Score the most enjoyable?

The author's recognition of the humanity of his patients.

Any additional comments?

This book managed to be both scientifically grounded and personal/anecdotal, simultaneously harrowing and hopeful. My own personal preferences and personality are grounded much more in the hard sciences than the soft, and that preference means I found the first 60% of the book much more engaging and convincing as the author spends that first part of the book explaining the neurological, physical, and psychological mechanics of trauma and its lasting effects. This part of the book is clear and detailed, and cannot help but to open one's eyes to the reality of what trauma does to people. Even in this section, he interweaves thumbnail sketches of patient's he has encountered and even in such broad outlines, the stories can be horrendous. The remainder of the book talks about treatment and is wide ranging. The author does not forsake the hard science of the beginning of the book, but reveals himself entirely open to giving many other therapies and approaches a chance if they demonstrate any promise in lessening the extenuating and long-standing pain of trauma victims. This part of the book required me to try to shelve my own skepticism, and while I don't know if I am utterly convinced, I am certainly far more open to the idea that a number of less traditional approaches can have wondrous impacts on patients. The author also is not shy about his politics and directly addresses those who wish he would keep his politics separate from the science. He points out poignantly that the very trauma he sees (from veterans, abused children, etc.) often have their roots in long-standing societal issues that are exacerbated by political disagreements. Even if a reader does not agree with his specific stance, the author makes a convincing case that the most cost effective and humane way to treat trauma is to do what we can to prevent its occurrence. Highly recommended.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful