Review: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

A friend posted this book in her Instagram story, and then in the same week, it caught my attention at my therapist’s office. I can safely say it’s one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in a long time. Bessel van der Kolk has spent the last 30 years working with patients severely affected by trauma, mostly veterans or victims of sexual abuse in this book he outlines what he’s learned and how its informed and developed his practice.

“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” – Bessel van der Kolk

“As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself…The critical issue is allowing yourself to know what you know. That takes an enormous amount of courage.” – Bessel van der Kolk

After noting the way certain traumas were held in the body and finding traditional therapy had its limits he began trialling different methods in which to shift it, using more physical practices including theatre. The book is packed with enthralling anecdotes, brilliant facts, and techniques for you to try at home, and is backed with just the right amount of science to not leave the average reader feeling bogged down or out of their depth.
That being said, considering its size, it did take me a month or so to get through as I was frequently left reflecting on what was being said.

I think one thing I found most fascinating was that “economists calculated that every dollar invested in high-quality home visitation, daycare, and preschool programs results in seven dollars of savings on welfare payments, health-care costs, substance abuse treatment, and incarceration, plus higher tax revenues due to better-paying jobs.”

“The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.” – Bessel van der Kolk

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