Book: Bessel A van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps The Score
What drew me to this book: A yoga chat group I am part of keeps mentioning trauma training for yoga teachers, particularly for yoga therapists. While I am not a yoga therapist, I have always been drawn to the practice’s ability to heal and transform people’s lives. Change, real profound change is among those difficult and miraculous human processes I know. I am well aware that yoga can relieve depression and anxiety. This book takes it beyond to dealing with trauma.
About a decade ago I binged on books about neuroscience, and this book is my first visit back to those concepts in years. Amazed I still know as much as I do about the brain (for an English major type).
The appeal so far: Reframes for me some of the way we think about symptoms of both mental illness and post traumatic stress. Explains why reason and talk alone cannot relieve trauma. Also explains the limitations of pharmaceutical treatments. Trauma exists at a deeper level in more primitive parts of the brain and body that react automatically when triggered. Offers new treatments, particularly non-pharmaceutical treatments, for releasing the buried effects of trauma and stress in the body’s nervous system and tissues. These include mindfulness training and body work, breathing, yoga, neurofeedback and theater games.
“One does not have to be a combat soldier, or visit a refugee camp in Syria or the Congo to encounter trauma. Trauma happens to us, our friends, our families and our neighbors. Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions has shown that one in five Americans was sexually molested as a child; one in four was beaten by a parent to the point of a mark being left on their body; and one in three couples engages in physical violence. A quarter of us grew up with alcoholic relatives, and one out of eight witnessed their mother being beaten or hit. “
A few disturbing statistics:
“Medicaid, the government health program for the poor, spends more on antipsychotics than on any other class of drugs. In 2008, the most recent year for which complete data are available, it funded 3.6 billion for antipsychotics, up from 1.65 billion in 1999. The number of people under the age of twenty receiving Medicaid-funded prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs tripled between 1999 and 2008.” P37.
My reaction: YIKES!