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


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A world expert presents a sympathetic exploration of the causes of trauma and the new treatments making it possible for sufferers to reclaim their lives

What causes people to continually relive what they most want to forget, and what treatments could help restore them to a life with purpose and joy? Here, Dr Bessel van der Kolk offers a new paradigm for effectively treating traumatic stress.

Neither talking nor drug therapies have proven entirely satisfactory. With stories of his own work and those of specialists around the globe, The Body Keeps the Score sheds new light on the routes away from trauma – which lie in the regulation and syncing of body and mind, using sport, drama, yoga, mindfulness, meditation and other routes to equilibrium.


  • Prologue: Facing trauma
  • Part I: The rediscovery of trauma
  • 1. Lessons from Vietnam veterans
  • 2. Revolutions in understanding mind and brain
  • 3. Looking into the brain: The neuroscience revolution
  • Part II: This is your brain on trauma
  • 4. Running for your life: The anatomy of survival
  • 5. Body-brain connections
  • 6. Losing your body, losing your self
  • Part III: The minds of children
  • 7. Getting on the same wavelength: Attachment and attunement
  • 8. Trapped in relationships: The cost of abuse and neglect
  • 9. What’s love got to do with it?
  • 10. Developmental trauma: The hidden epidemic
  • Part IV: The imprint of trauma
  • 11. Uncovering secrets: The problem of traumatic memory
  • 12. 12: The unbearable heaviness of remembering
  • Part V: Paths of recovery
  • 13. Healing from trauma: Owning your self
  • 14. Language: Miracle and tyranny
  • 15. Letting go of the past: EMDR
  • 16. Learning to inhabit your body: Yoga
  • 17. Putting the pieces together: Self-leadership
  • 18. Filling in the holes: Creating structure
  • 19. Rewiring the brain: Neurofeedback
  • 20. Finding your voice: Communal rhythms and theatre
  • Epilogue: Choices to be made
  • Appendix: Consensus proposed criteria for developmental trauma disorder
  • Resources
  • Further reading
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgements
  • Follow Penguin

Author Bio:

Bessel van der Kolk is a psychiatrist, author, researcher and educator based in Boston, USA. Since the 1970s his research has been in the area of post-traumatic stress. He has served as a past president for the International Society for Traumatic stress Studies and former co-director of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. He is a professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and president of the Trauma Research Foundation in Brookline, Massachusetts.