The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van der Kolk, MD

Those words are so true! My hyper-vigilance, night terrors, extreme food aversion were all driven my still being in the trauma, decades later! Amazingly as I got better, as I connected my story and the fragments came together, my symptoms lessened. I didn't get better until I worked on my body and mind. Learning to be in my body was key for me.
Congratulations! You did it! You are no longer that defenseless little boy. You are dealing with the past as a grown-ass man not as a terrified child.

I am really benefiting from this book. I look forwarding to reading what is in store for me today.
Dissociation and Reliving - page 66-67

Dissociation is the essence of trauma. The overwhelming experience is split off and fragmented, so that the emotions, sounds, images, thoughts, and physical sensations related to the trauma take on a life of their own. The sensory fragments of memory intrude into the present, where they are literally relived. As long as the trauma is not resolved, the stress hormones that the body secretes to protect itself keep circulating, and the defensive movements and emotional responses keep getting replayed.

Flashbacks and reliving are in some ways worse than the trauma itself. A traumatic event has a beginning and an end - at some point it is over. But for people with PTSD a flashback can occur at any time, whether they are awake or asleep. There is no way of knowing when it's going to occur again or how long it will last. People who suffer from flashbacks often organize their lives around trying to protect against them. They may compulsively go to the gym to pump iron (but finding that they are never strong enough), numb themselves with drugs, or try to cultivate an illusory sense of control in highly dangerous situations (like motorcycle racing, bungee jumping, or working as an ambulance driver).

Constantly fighting unseen dangers is exhausting and leaves them fatigued, depressed, and weary.

If elements of the trauma are replayed again and again, the accompanying stress hormones engrave those memories ever more deeply in the mind. Ordinary, day-to-day events becomes less and less compelling. Not being able to deeply take in what is going on around them makes it impossible to feel fully alive. It becomes harder to feel the joys and aggravations of ordinary life, harder to concentrate on the tasks at hand.

Not being fully alive in the present keeps them more firmly imprisoned in the past.
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Personal comment:
I am only a few pages into this book and have learned so much already. I am fascinated with his assertion that the brain, body, and mind are actually inseparable and that it is indeed possible to vastly improve a man's ability to recover from sexual abuse, in my case CSA age 4, by addressing them as a whole rather than as separate parts. I am not certain what Dr. Bessel van der Kolk believes about Chiropractic Care but I have scheduled an appointment for a chiropractic workup in two days. I want to see if it can improve my ability to process physical sensations more properly. My body has felt numb for a long time. It only registers pain. Pleasure? What's that? Do any of you have experience with chiropractic care you'd like to share?

tony passey

Larry you are a true inspiration and clearly guided. I’ve had the happiest day of my life as I’ve been gifted something extra special for me to look forward to after Corona,,,, so I didn’t expect any more smiles were possible . But you Sir made that unexpected smile happen. I would have bet my life that I couldn’t have been happier. It’s just getting better. Bless you Sir
Larry you are a true inspiration and clearly guided. I’ve had the happiest day of my life as I’ve been gifted something extra special for me to look forward to after Corona,,,, so I didn’t expect any more smiles were possible . But you Sir made that unexpected smile happen. I would have bet my life that I couldn’t have been happier. It’s just getting better. Bless you Sir
That's wonderful!
Learning To Live In The Present - page 73

The challenge of trauma treatment is not only dealing with the past but, even more, enhancing the quality of day-to-day experience. One reason that traumatic memories become dominant in PTSD is that it's so difficult to feel truly alive right now. When you can't be fully here, you go to the places where you did feel alive - even if those places are filled with horror and misery.

Many treatment approaches for traumatic stress focus on desensitizing patients to their past, with the expectation that re-exposure to their traumas will reduce emotional outbursts and flashbacks. I believe that this is based on a misunderstanding of what happens in traumatic stress. We must most of all help our patients to live fully and securely in the present. In order to do that, we need to help bring those brain structures that deserted them when they were overwhelmed by trauma back. Desensitization may make you less reactive, but if you cannot feel satisfaction in ordinary everyday things like taking a walk, cooking a meal, or playing with your kids,

life will pass you by.


" will pass you pass by...". At the age of 63, I remind myself I am a survivor and a hero in my life. Thank you for these posts. I aim to read this book. Healing is actively enjoying the pleasure of LIFE!
Safety and Reciprocity - page 81-82

Social support is not the same as merely being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, feeling that we are held in someone else's mind and heart. For our physiology to calm down, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety. No doctor can write a prescription for friendship and love: These are complex and hard-earned capacities. You don't need a history of trauma to feel self conscious and even panicked at a party with strangers - but trauma can turn the whole world into a gathering of aliens.

Many traumatized people find themselves chronically out of sync with the people around them. Some find comfort in groups where they can replay their combat experiences, rape, or torture with others who have similar backgrounds or experiences. Focusing on a shared history of trauma and victimization alleviates their searing sense of isolation, but usually at the price of having to deny their individual differences: Members can belong only if they conform to the common code.

Isolating oneself into a narrowly defined victim group promotes a view of others as irrelevant at best and dangerous at worst, which eventually only leads to further alienation. Gangs, extremist political parties, and religious cults may provide solace, but they rarely foster the mental flexibility needed to be fully open to what life has to offer and as such cannot liberate their members from their traumas.

Well functioning people are able to accept individual differences and acknowledge the humanity of others.

tony passey

Larry you talk sense mate and in English lol. I’m subconsciously rewarding my inner child every time I help( if I can) I’m finding that most consoling
Best regards Tony
You'll note in my signature line a link the thread I started a little over a year ago about this book. It really is a book anyone who is dealing with trauma will want to own and read. Sadly, none of the study or healing work I'd done over the last thirty plus years addressed this material. I say sadly, because Bessel began doing this research over thirty years ago. Of course, it took him this long to put it all together in a form that can be handled by other than professionals in the field. Since my first trauma was so early in life, this material coupled with reading I've done on the topic of attachment theory has been essential to attending to the trauma I experienced. It all led to my finding a therapist who works somatically and who is knowledgeable about attachment theory. What I've needed for my whole life is now available. Healing really is possible and the pieces are fitting in place at last.

This is a wonderful thread to have on the board. Hopefully, others will be inspired to buy this book and do a bit of reading. Trauma has profound impact on our bodies and hence our lives. Hopefully, in knowing that we'll be able to advocate for ourselves rather than blame ourselves for the things we needed to do to survive. Thanks for bringing this back to the board Larry.
Personal Comment:
As I slowly work my way through The Body Keeps The Score I am gaining a much better understanding of my personal challenges, not just the CSA age 4. So, what does it actually look like in my life as I find doctors who will treat my Brain, Mind, and Body as one entity rather than three separate entities?

Today, I underwent a Chiropractic examination. I have never had one before but because of this book I am expanding my knowledge and applying it. What did I glean from this evaluation?
- Brain - There is no indication that there is any neurological damage of the brain. The neurological connections within my body are healthy and functioning properly.
- Body - Traumatic damage has been inflicted on my neck (see explanation below) but it is treatable without pain medication. He stretched my neck to the point I became lightly concerned but after the 4th stretching I immediately received evidence based relief. It felt so good! I was also concerned that I might have flashbacks regarding the violence done to my neck but I didn't. According to this book it means I have dealt with the trauma properly and have moved on with my life. I am no longer in trauma prison. I live in the present. I'm free!
- Mind - I gained evidence based emotional relief during this evaluation that sent my emotional health skyrocketing. My thinking became more positive and optimistic that I really am making significant progress in my recovery and overall health.

By way of explanation:
In 2014, at 62, I worked as a prison guard. I witnessed an attempted murder of another guard, with whom I had become close friends. The inmate was trying to kill him (self admission). His face and head were gushing blood from the blows. He was staggering around trying to get his bearings. His eyes were swollen and full of blood. He could no longer defend himself. I immediately got in between him and the inmate. The inmate turned on me and took his violence out on me. He tried to kill me by breaking my neck (self admission). Long story short, I was put on medical leave and underwent a CT Scan which found my neck had been traumatized so extensively that I was forced to retire that month. Now that part of my neck has three disks that are fused by arthritis.
That must have been terrifying Larry. Amazing that you're unpacking all these experiences both as a child and an adult and finding some relief. We each have our stories to tell, how we carried the burden of trauma, what we did in our lives to survive... and now how we're putting the pieces together and finding relief at last. And we get to do this together... kindred spirits wishing only for peace and happiness... both of which have been in short supply for most of our lives. I wish us all well.
Befriending The Body - page 102-103

Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies.

Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies. The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe. In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them.

Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.

Noticing sensations for the first time can be quite distressing, and it may precipitate flashbacks in which people curl up or assume defensive postures. These are somatic reenactments of the undigested trauma and most likely represent the postures they assume when the trauma occurred.

The most natural way for human beings to calm themselves when they are upset is by clinging to another person. This means that patients who have been physically or sexually violated face a dilemma: They desperately crave touch while simultaneously being terrified of body contact. The mind needs to be reeducated to feel physical sensations, and the body needs to be helped to tolerate and enjoy the comforts of touch. Individuals who lack emotional awareness are able, with practice, to connect their physical sensations to psychological events. Then they can slowly reconnect with themselves.
The mind needs to be reeducated to feel physical sensations, and the body needs to be helped to tolerate and enjoy the comforts of touch
Personal note:
Tonight I will go to bed and lay quietly for awhile. I will breathe deeply until I am relaxed. Then I will touch my body - all of it. I will reeducate my Brain, Body, and Mind to:
- feel the touching
- acknowledge when and where I have an adverse reaction when I touch body parts which have been traumatized
- describe these sensations using words

I will acknowledge that I am no longer a terrified little boy who was CSA age 4. I am now a grown-ass man. I am no longer terrified.
Respect Larry... this is wonderful what you're doing for yourself. Whatever feelings arise you will be with them. Kindness and compassion are called for every step along the way.


They desperately crave touch while simultaneously being terrified of body contact.
I avoid intimacy. I am supposed to be working on it. But I let it slide for a year at a time. Is it fear or distain? Does it matter?
Because of social distancing I have become acutely aware how much I rely on hugging for this need. Being a control freak, I am the hugger, rarely the huggie .