“The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk presents the takeaways from the author’s three decades of research in the field of trauma studies. Kolk is a clinician, researcher, and teacher best known for his work with posttraumatic stress.
His research entails that no matter how much insight and understanding we develop, the rational brain is basically unable to talk the emotional brain out of its own reality. The author explains how people who are very upset sometimes say they are “losing their minds.” In technical terms they are experiencing the loss of executive functioning.
According to the author, trauma by nature drives us to the edge of comprehension, cutting us off from language based on common experience or an imaginable past. Trauma survivors, come up with what many of them call their “cover story” that offers some explanation for their symptoms and behavior for public consumption.
The writer mentions natural ways to help people deal with their post-traumatic responses. He suggests ways to actually change one's own physiology and inner equilibrium:
(1) our capacity to destroy one another is matched by our capacity to heal one another. Restoring relationships and community is central to restoring well-being;
(2) language gives us the power to change ourselves and others by communicating our experiences, helping us to define what we know, and finding a common sense of meaning;
(3) we have the ability to regulate our own physiology, including some of the so-called involuntary functions of the body and brain, through such basic activities as breathing, moving, and touching; and
(4) we can change social conditions to create environments in which children and adults can feel safe and where they can thrive.
A lecturer and lifestyle consultant by the day; an avid reader and writer by the night, I am a student of life.