When a person experiences traumatic events, the aftermath can be extremely debilitating. Trauma not only affects the mind, but can have lifelong effects on the body.
Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is a psychiatrist who has been treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other types of trauma for more than 40 years. He founded the Trauma Center in Brookline, Mass., and is author of the new book “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” (read an excerpt below).
He tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson about new ways to treat trauma, focusing on ways to making the body feel safe.
What is trauma?
“Trauma is an experience that overwhelms your capacity to cope. People feel helpless, overwhelmed, scared, horrified; at the core of trauma is horror.”
On how yoga heals trauma
“Yoga was more effective than any medication… medication can be quite nice to sort of dampen some of the symptoms. But in the end, people need to own their bodies, they need to own their physical experiences. And, in order to overcome your trauma, it needs to be safe to go inside and to experience yourself.”
“What there is too much emphasis on is the capacity of the cognitive rational brain to conquer our irrational survival brain. Neuroscience has really helped us understand that you can’t talk yourself out of being in love, or being angry, or hating particular people because these are not rational processes, and reason has only very limited capacities to override these more primitive survival issues. And so, you need to not rely on reason, you need rely on mastery of your body, safety of your body, finding peace in your body.”
Dr. Bessel van der Kolk’s take away message
“It’s not one size fits all. You need to find some way where your body once again feels like ‘I am in control of myself.’” Continue reading >>