I just got this book in the mail, The Body Keeps the Score. I’m excited about reading it. I’m going to do lots of posts on it because I think it’s likely to be one of the most important books published to help understand our societies mental health landscape.
Here is an excerpt from a review from New Scientist:
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. The list of its effects is long: on mental and physical health, employment, education, crime, relationships, domestic or family abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction. “We all want to live in a world that is safe, manageable… predictable, and victims remind us that this is not always the case,” says Bessel van der Kolk. When no one wants to hear about a person’s trauma, it finds a way to manifest in their body.
And it is not only extreme experiences that linger. Family disturbance or generalised neglect can wire children to be on high alert, their stressed bodies tuned to fight or flight. Or they may be so “numbed out” by keeping demons at bay they can’t engage with life’s pleasures or protect themselves from future trauma. Even parents who don’t attune with their children can do untold damage, van der Kolk argues.
He makes it clear why it’s so important: help parents with their problems, deprivation or social isolation, and you help their kids. “If your parents’ faces never lit up when they looked at you, it’s hard to know what it feels like to be loved and cherished,” he says. Neglect creates mental maps used by children, and their adult selves, to survive. These maps skew their view of themselves and the world. …
…In terms of treatments, van der Kolk argues that “integrating” trauma by turning it into a bad memory, rather than reliving it, in therapy, may be key to recovering from trauma. And he criticises dealing with symptoms rather than causes. He has scary stats: half a million US children and teens take antipsychotic drugs, while privately insured 2 to 5-year-olds on antipsychotics have doubled between 2000 and 2007. (read more)
More about Bessel van der Kolk’s work on Beyond Meds: