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

Category: Medicine
Author: Bessel Van Der Kolk
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by cardmagic   2022-08-24
Relevant related book: The Body Keeps the Score
by [deleted]   2021-12-10

Okay. So good news is Trauma is getting a ton of attention and is highly recognized if you read more about it, as well as possible see someone who specializes in treating it. A wonderful book that gives a stellar overview of trauma, as well as ways to start feeling better, is The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk.

If you want more foundational theory and some history on the understanding of trauma and how to treat it, I recommend Trauma & Recovery by Judith Herman. I will warn you though, it’s hard to read because of the examples she provides.

Those two books are amazingly important for understanding trauma, how to treat it and give amazing overviews of the symptoms. They are wildly different from person to person. Things like chronic nausea, chronic localized or diffuse pain, intractable depression, panic, anxiety, nightmares, autoimmune disorders, mood symptoms that are triggered and self limiting, headaches, confusion, lack of understanding of the body, dissociation in its myriad forms, flashbacks, sensitivity to smells, touch, sounds, tastes, hyper vigilance, hyperarousal, anhedonia, avolition, random and disproportionate bouts with dissociated emotions (anger that comes out of nowhere, sadness that hits like a ton of bricks and then is gone minutes later, etc) muted emotions, a flat affect, avoiding certain places even if they don’t fully understand why, phobias, weird personal relationships with sex and food, gaps in their memory, hard time following instructions, and many more. But there is most definitely hope. I recommend both books highly, as well as having a serious, honest and open heart to heart with your girlfriend.

You might be surprised what you learn, and your love and compassion towards her will most definitely help.

by Orimwrongidontknow   2021-12-10

Don't worry, I get that too. Intrusive thoughts cause physiological reactions because it triggers your nervous system which has a kind of memory. This book gives a really good explanation of all this and might help you normalize your feelings:

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

by Ghrave   2021-12-10

Yeah, /u/Electr0freak is correct. I have both CPTSD and ADHD. The ADHD presents as my inability to focus on tasks, auditory processing issues, inability to schedule, think or plan for the future, frequent forgetfulness, and inability to manage time. The CPTSD, on the other hand presents as my inability to be in close proximity to people for very long (minutes at a time, tops), due to an instinctive protective mode from blows from others, an acute inability to self-regulate emotions such that if I am having an attack, I hit/punch/elbow, choke, scratch, bite and pull my own hair. I tell people curious about it that the sensation is a hot "cold sweat" and the internal sensation of being held down against my will, and to escape I will do anything, and my body interprets that as "Skin yourself alive. Cut your own throat. Choke yourself to death." That's not ADHD. My brother, also diagnosed with ADHD did not have these symptoms growing up either. I am now taking Lamictal to counter these symptoms, which is an anti-convulsive med used often to treat people with BPD. This is all very recent, the new med is about 3 weeks in and I have never felt better, I never get the body sensations that I was getting causing me to react like that. I'm 29, and have been doing these things since I was 6 or 7, and my father left when I was 5, which I attribute the majority of my emotional self-blame to, followed closely by corporal punishment as a child. Read the book The Body Keeps The Score. If someone thinks CPTSD is not a thing, they're wrong.

by M0T0K0   2020-08-03
The article is wrong, then, IMO. And so is the author's main reference for the article, Ana Holub:


by queer_artsy_kid   2019-11-17

Possibly, although I'm not exactly sure what my mom has considering she refuses to get any kind of psychological help, and I'm kinda reluctant to try and self diagnose anyone because there's a tendency for people to self diagnose anyone who's abusive as having BPD, which is frustrating. But going off of my own experience with having BPD, my best guess is that my mom has sever untreated BPD symptoms, this could apply to your mom too considering you mentioned that she shares the same symptoms as my mom. I seriously recommend doing trauma based DBT therapy if you're able to and reading The Body Keeps The Score, it's a really great book that helped me better understand my trauma.

by kmc_v3   2019-11-17

Exactly. A key component of trauma is helplessness. When something bad happens, and you have a way to respond, it greatly reduces the chance of long-term post-traumatic stress. This was one of the big takeaways from reading The Body Keeps The Score, which is a great look at causes and treatments of PTSD.

Even pre-disaster, prepping has been a great way for me to combat anxiety. Instead of worrying, I prepare, and I can better accept the things I can't prepare for.

by [deleted]   2019-11-17

I find that youtube can be a reliable source, but there's a ton of misinformation on there. I'll share some reliable links and my personal library with you. I'll include amazon links if you would like to support any of the Authors.


Video Primer on Dissociation and Schizophrenia by Colin Ross.


This article is a meta analysis of research on Dissociation and Emotional Regulation in severe dissociative disorders, complex trauma, and Borderline Personality Disorder.



My personal library or most of it.


For the Pdf books grab the kindle app or a kindle. Amazon assigns you a special email that can be used to convert those to The Azw3 format. Use this link to figure it out.


Lastly for the ePub/mobi files you can use iBooks or an android book reader to retain the format. If you have money I’d suggest supporting the authors. You also get a little nicer formatting. However healing shouldn’t be restricted by lack of funds.


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

Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood Trauma

The Haunted Self: Structural Dissociation and the Treatment of Chronic Traumatization (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)

The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)

Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)

The Stranger In The Mirror

Dissociation and the Dissociative Disorders: DSM-V and Beyond

Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders (Adults): Scientific Foundations and Therapeutic Models

Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders in Children and Adolescents: Scientific Foundations and Therapeutic Models

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma

Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors

Understanding and Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder (Relational Perspectives Book Series)

The Dissociative Mind in Psychoanalysis: Understanding and Working With Trauma (Relational Perspectives Book Series)

Feeling Unreal: Depersonalization Disorder and the Loss of the Self

Shelter from the Storm: Processing the Traumatic Memories of DID/DDNOS Patients with The Fractionated Abreaction Technique (A Vademecum for the Treatment of DID/DDNOS) (Volume 1)

Neurobiology and Treatment of Traumatic Dissociation

by [deleted]   2019-11-17

This is mentioned in the book about trauma called The Body Keeps the Score. The author points out that even though memories can be fabricated, the visceral terror that goes along with true trauma cannot be faked. Find the book here.

by napjerks   2019-11-17

How did it go yesterday? Is it your startup or someone you work for? Startups are viewed favorably and constantly in the news. But they are also notoriously grueling and exhausting experiences. They get gobbled up by companies who absorb their tech and talent as a way to destroy them as competition which usually results in a huge payday for the top brass but the little guys just keep plodding along. There's no set plan for regular employees. That's why most people admire it from afar, rather oblivious to the startup experience. I was on the low end of the totem pole once and it was a wild ride but long ago and I wouldn't say I would do it again easily.

One of the best things you can do when you're already angry is just pick up and go for a walk. Just leave the building and start walking. No phone or music, hands free. Anger is aggravating because it spurs us to do something. It has a lot of energy that comes with it so walking helps us cool down. Doesn't matter if you go for two minutes or two hours, just walk it off.

I don't know if you're a gamer but online news, chat, discord, all that stuff that draws us in emotionally can be a huge recurring trigger for anger and hard to escape. Try to trade it off with exercise and protect your sleep. Try to stop all digital entanglements an hour before going to sleep. Read an actual book for a few minutes to let your eyes adjust away from blue light. If you lay down and thoughts prevent you from sleeping, grab a notebook and write them down. Getting them out of your head reduces that feeling that we need to be vigilant and hold on to all those things. But you won't forget them because they're still right there. It's like creating a task list for tomorrow so you can get some good rest now. You deserve to sleep and rest. We all face tomorrow better well-rested.

Make a clear decision on the dog. Negative treatment is never ok. Any touching should always be positive. I'm not trying to beat you up, just help clarify what needs to happen in your mind for it to work. Your mind goes to the dog when you get mad. (Shit rolls downhill, as they say. And it's a horrible thing to say because it only happens and is accepted in toxic environments.) So you have to take a few minutes to write down on paper a new plan for what to do when you get angry. It helps to just make a list and run down the list the second you start to feel frustrated or agitated. That way you start reinforcing the memory of the ideal response you want to have and not fall back on previous bad habits. What we visualize regularly is what we end up doing, even if it's bad and we don't want to. The technique is to start swapping out what you visualize. Just like creating a vision board for a company or project, you are creating a vision board for your response to strong negative emotions, in this case anger.

So what are you going to do? When you're angry and can't do anything else about it, going for a walk helps. Other methods can help as long as we know why we're doing them. But they need to be done earlier in the process. Practice recognizing your feelings and emotions before you are whack-a-doodle angry. When you feel something strong and negative, put a word on it. Say to yourself, "This is what overwhelmed (or frustrated, inadequate, resentment, etc.) feels like." To help recognize when you can intervene with yourself so you can have a different outcome before you get hopping mad. Slow things down. Take more 5 minute breaks throughout the day to stare out the window or walk around the office for a short break. Be extra kind to yourself while you are figuring it out. It doesn't help to get mad at yourself because you got mad. That only makes it last longer. So practice self-compassion and have patience for everyone around you.

I'm sorry to hear about you mentioning trauma. There are books like The Body Keeps the Score and Rage that you can apply as a tandem approach. Sharp, blow up anger can be remedied in three to six months with focused attention on it. Trauma and it's effects take longer.

Try not to write off therapy. If you haven't tried it yet I can't recommend it enough. But let yourself pick someone else if you don't like the first person you meet with. It's ok to shop around. You're the one paying after all. So even if you don't like even the sound of their voice - next! But if you find a good one, stick with them for six months and go in with clear goals. They usually want to see you once a week for the first month or so and then once a month depending on how you are doing. In the US you can find one for ~$100 per session and insurance usually covers at least a portion of it. On a monthly basis that's not a bad investment in your mental health. It's a long-term investment.

Keeping a diary helps keep it pertinent and real. You will have a log of things you are working on and concrete examples to dig into when you see them. Just writing things down helps us tremendously too because it's out of our head and we can evaluate it with a little bit broader perspective rather than feeling so close in with it. Hope this helps. Hang in there!

by napjerks   2019-11-17

> When someone is silent or withholding information

Try not to read into what is happening. If someone is silent they are often trying to figure out what to do or say that is beneficial and wouldn't make a situation worse. So don't let yourself get caught in the trap of thinking you can read their mind. And don't think they can read yours. The closer we get to someone the more this can be a problem. But it's usually temporary. It's a growing pain of intimate relationships.

> the uncertainty makes me panic and I become genuinely convinced that they are trying to hurt me.

The solution is to be explicit. Share more and earlier. Ask, "What are you thinking?" It might be awkward for the other person if you asked it ten times in a row but especially as soon as you notice your anxiety coming up, just ask a question instead of waiting in silence. That waiting in silence trying to anticipate what they are thinking is what causes the suffering. So you can either make the moment more explicit by asking questions. Or you can work on your tendency to try to guess what they are thinking. Both deserve attention.

To work on your tendency to assume you know what they are thinking and especially if what you imagine is bad, negative, horrible, keep a journal for a few weeks to identify where your mind goes in these moments. Write down things like, "there was a lull in the conversation" or "there was an awkward pause" and "my mind went to..." or "I wondered what s/he was thinking and I started to think about..."

You can also use active listening techniques to counter this tendency. Switch to it when you notice you are worrying about what they are thinking or if you feel they are judging you.

Do the thoughts your mind goes to match the situation? What triggered these thoughts? If you can identify similar recurring situations where your mind goes to these imaginings you can come up with a phrase you tell yourself to remind yourself that this is what you are working on, to take yourself out of the moment and not feel so intense. The difficulty is in remembering. That's what the journal is for. Not to hold these things in our active memory. But to recognize patterns.

We can't predict how we will react to every situation. But if we can at least regularly notice the situations we typically overreact to we can get a handle on our anxiety response most of the time. When unusual things occur that set us off, we just have to treat it as an incident or episode to review for how we can approach it better next time. That's why you don't want to get mad at yourself for getting angry or having an episode. Be especially kind to yourself when it happens and while you are working to figure it out.

> But when it happens, I am convinced that the person is trying to hurt me. It’s just the conclusion my brain comes to: if they cared about me then they would be honest with me and let me make my own decisions. When people are silent it feels like they are trying to control me and take my power away.

Especially for people who have been through trauma, the response is so fast it's physiological and we can't even get thoughts between our physical reaction and our mental processing of it so we can intervene properly. So books like The Body Keeps the Score and When the Body Says No may help. Hope some of this helps. Hang in there!

by HazyDreamLikeState   2019-08-24

It sounds like DiD to me, though it's possible there might be something in addition to that. If your therapist isn't a good fit for you then you should move on from them and find someone that specializes in trauma who has extensive experience dealing with it. I think in the end the labels aren't that important as your focus should be on dealing with the trauma itself. I'd recommend this book as it has a case of a person with DiD that ends up healing and becoming successful:

by napjerks   2019-08-24

First and foremost, you can't fix her. We don't like to hear it. You can suggest, encourage, pay for resources. But she has to do the work. She should be in therapy, she should be keeping a mental health journal daily, she should be using a mood tracker (see half way down the page to "1. Daily Mood Chart" a simple chart) or other means of monitoring her emotions and outbursts she is trying to control, she should be setting mental health goals for herself. There are all kinds of tools. But if she's not putting in any effort at all, it doesn't matter what you do.

I know this sounds harsh. But if she doesn't want to stop being violent or verbally belittling you she will never change. And these are things that are actually easier to change than even dealing with her own anger. She can stop these behaviors. But she's allowing herself to run amok all over you.

To put it simply, there are boundary issues between you guys right now. Granted, she probably has huge trust issues, rightly so - completely justified due to her trauma, and may be pushing you away as a form of self-sabotage. She has self-worth issues. She's obviously been in a difficult place for a long time.

But don't suppress yourself or change your entire being to make her happy. And her hurting you is a huge problem. It won't ultimately make her happy anyway. And you have to preserve who you are. There's no doubt you are a good person because you are trying to help. But you don't want to be a martyr for her symptoms she refuses to improve. Even if it's because she's so deep she can't see the problem. Ignorance and obliviousness are not excuses.

If she can't identify her anger, this is understandable given her history of trauma. So the work is to be able to reduce the anger while being able to read her own feelings and emotions again. There are books like The Body Keeps the Score. If she's been in therapy a while, she has already been doing a lot of what is in this book. But for some reason she's still not in touch with her inner feelings. And "inner feelings" doesn't mean anything particularly deep. Just that she has lost track of her internal voice, like most of us have on a daily basis. We know if we're hungry, thirsty, sad, moody, etc. She basically needs to slow things down and listen to herself. That's what a thought-journal is for. To write down what she is feeling. What makes her angry, frustrated, agitated. Write down her memories that come up that disturb her mood. She doesn't even have to write a lot. Just enough notes so she can identify what it was if she reviews it again with her therapist later while in a session. Throughout the day, she should make this journal her constant companion.

This is what can help her work on it between therapy sessions. Because that's where the real work happens. Not in the therapist's office. But between visits when she's trying to apply what the therapist recommends. So she should write down what the therapist suggests in her journal so she can reference it when she's home or at work as a reminder of what to focus on. It's a memory aid for what she learns during her visits. And then every day she should write today's date and what made her upset. It's a log for how things are going between the visits. If she keeps doing it she will eventually start writing more meaningful, persistent, recurring things she can bring back to the therapist to work on. That's what the therapist is for. To offer instruction on one visit. And on follow up visits to offer guidance on what hasn't worked. New techniques or modified techniques, or to help her understand how to apply them to her situation.

You can use a journal too if you are feeling stressed out. Keep a daily log of her outbursts, how she treats you, how you react, what you would like to change about the relationship. Write what you did that you feared might have made it worse. Or you tried something you thought would make it better and it didn't work at all. Things that surprise you or catch you off guard. You can also write what you see as good things that happen in order to balance it out. Moments where you connected in a positive way that was refreshing. But then you have something concrete you can reflect on to see if any improvement is happening over time, such as reduction in negative language, being talked down to, etc. How our partner behaves affects us and has an impact on the overall relationship. Journaling for yourself can help identify specific problems and focus on ways to improve communication and goal setting.

If she doesn't know how she feels, that is something she can work on. Putting a name on how she feels can help a lot. Just identifying a word and saying it out loud can help reduce anger over time because we start to diffuse the tangled knot we feel on a daily basis. Having a chart of emotions to reference can help remember the vocabulary of feelings.

There are articles with great information like When You Love An Angry Person. But it sounds like she may even be gaslighting you. Basically manipulating you to get what she wants but in an undermining kind of way. It can start subtle but become more overt over time.

If you even speak in the wrong way you're in trouble? So she's making you do this dance to please her. And she's constantly attacking your confidence and self-worth. And she's never pleased.

If you value non-violence you should stand up for yourself in regards to her bouts of violence. Even throwing things in a relationship where there has already bene violence is perceived by the battered partner as a threat. So hitting and breaking things needs to stop. It goes both ways. There's no mental health issue that condones getting beat up by your partner. Don't let excuses like you'r mentally stronger than her, physically bigger than her or you can "take it." You shouldn't have to take it. In a relationship we want to elevate each other. Not drag each other down to the lowest level. Books like Getting Together and Staying Together offer ways for couples to communicate together in a positive way to build a healthy relationship. But you're really in a bind so I think you'd benefit from talking to someone face to face yourself.

You have a psych degree but that doesn't mean automatically knowing how to deal with every situation. Don't put that burden on yourself. You are allowed to get help too. You are with someone who is receiving mental health assistance so don't feel like you have to stand alone and figure it out by yourself. There are things like secondary traumatic stress that nurses and doctors have to deal with too from prolonged situations trying to help patients in need. Even professional helpers can be negatively affected and need support. So please consider seeing a licensed clinical therapist to talk about your relationship. It sounds like it's become quite toxic over time. You're the one who does the giving and she is doing the taking right now. Your self care is at risk. I hope you can set some boundaries around her behavior to protect yourself. Remember you need to be resilient too. I hope this doesn't sound too critical. I'm trying to give you some pep so you can figure out what to do that is right for you. Sorry for writing so much but I kept thinking of your situation today. This is my take after being a patient of therapy for 10+ years. Hang in there!

by earth__girl   2019-08-24

This helped me a lot with my childhood trauma. Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, breathwork, therapy and EMDR as well.

by HazyDreamLikeState   2019-07-21

You are likely researching the wrong thing. Rather than looking up depersonalization or derealization you should be looking up dissociative disorders or dissociation.


The Body Keeps the Score is easy to understand and has a lot of good information including treatments.


Neurobiology and Treatment of Traumatic Dissociation is very jargon heavy but has a massive amount of information. The problem is that it is expensive and I've only read some of it from google previews. I spent several hours trying to pirate it and couldn't find it anywhere unfortunately.


by napjerks   2019-07-21

From what you describe he doesn't just sound like a person with anger issues. He has no introspection or compassion for you.

> He tries to avoid having arguments in person. He waits until I leave for work or to go to my place to call me and discuss a problem he has. It can very quickly escalate to yelling, cussing, and being nasty (name calling, etc.).

This isn't just passive-aggressive. This is gaslighting. This doesn't allow you to manage your emotions at work. This is a sneak attack that undermines your ability to be calm and confident at your job. It's extremely abusive behavior because it's sabotage for your self confidence.

Bottom line, don't pick up the phone while you're a work. Don't listen to his voicemails. If he asks you why you don't answer, tell him if he wants to talk to you he can do it face to face.

Because you come from an abusive home you may have some PTSD or trauma that you could benefit from a therapist's help. Any psychologist will tell you this makes you vulnerable to people who act this way. Along with the other commenters here I would also advise you to break up with him. And see a therapist for a few months to help with identifying potentially abusive, manipulative partners and how you can heal. You've only been together three months. Breaking up hurts. But can you imagine what will happen to your self confidence after three years. Protect yourself. You deserve better.

by oilisfoodforcars   2019-07-21

You should check out this book it’s great.

by ohgeeztt   2019-07-21

Good books to look at is the body keeps the score by bessel van der kolk (I would start there), Tribe by Sebastian Junger and the Body Never Lies by Alice Miller - This isnt about PTSD specifically but more broadly about mental health. Very powerful and informative watch. (the documentary in utero is also good) - good resource for healing from narcissistic abuse Gabor Mate is a great person to look into. He has several talks and books that on trauma that have really helped things click for me.

​ is a website that has a lot of great resources. It can seem "out there" but it offers unique lens to understand trauma and mental health.

MAPS might be running a study near you

Holotropic breathwork can be a low cost and effective healing modality.

by ohgeeztt   2019-07-21

Good books to look at is the body keeps the score by bessel van der kolk (I would start there), Tribe by Sebastian Junger and the Body Never Lies by Alice Miller - This isnt about PTSD specifically but more broadly about mental health. Very powerful and informative watch. - good resource for healing from narcissistic abuse Gabor Mate is a great person to look into. He has several talks and books that on trauma that have really helped things click for me. is a website that has a lot of great resources. It can seem "out there" but it offers unique lens to understand trauma and mental health.

MAPS might be running a trial near you.

Holotropic breathwork can be a low cost and effective healing modality.

by ohgeeztt   2019-07-21

Good books to look at is the body keeps the score by bessel van der kolk (I would start there), Tribe by Sebastian Junger and the Body Never Lies by Alice Miller - This isnt about PTSD specifically but more broadly about mental health. Very powerful and informative watch. (the documentary in utero is also good) - good resource for healing from narcissistic abuse Gabor Mate is a great person to look into. He has several talks and books that on trauma that have really helped things click for me. is a website that has a lot of great resources. It can seem "out there" but it offers unique lens to understand trauma and mental health.

​ - Brandy talks with Dr. Daniel Foor and discuss Ancestral work and his new book, "Ancestral Medicine: Rituals for Personal and Family Healing."

MAPS might be running a study near you

Holotropic breathwork can be a low cost and effective healing modality.