The Body Keeps the Score

By Bessel Van Der Kolk,

Book cover of The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Book description

#1 New York Times bestseller

"Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding and treating traumatic stress and the scope of its impact on society." -Alexander McFarlane, Director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies

A pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing…

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Why read it?

14 authors picked The Body Keeps the Score as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I recommend this book because it is a deep dive into trauma and how it can impact all of our lives. This book helps the reader understand the consequences of trauma and how to ultimately heal from the trauma. In my personal and professional opinion, everyone should read this book to better learn about themselves.

The key to growing and becoming better daily is to have self-awareness. This book helped me develop self-awareness about others and my clients as well. I have learned how to be more empathetic towards others by reading this book.

I am a trauma therapist, and this is the best book written about how trauma not only affects our minds but also affects our bodies.

The author has transformed my understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust.

This book is my somatic therapy bible.

From Nadine's list on trauma bonds.

This is an amazing book and, after many years, continues to make its rounds among my colleagues and other social workers who are working with youth. They appreciate having read it, and it really helps workers think deeply about what trauma-informed ways of working actually mean.

The book helps clarify how people cope with trauma and how such behaviours are more to do with fear, coping, and trying to make sense of an unsafe world. This book is full of powerful comments and quotes that will stick with you. People with trauma do not act out due to being morally…

Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

Book cover of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

Antonieta Contreras Author Of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

As a trauma therapist and dedicated researcher, I love uncovering valuable insights within lesser-known books. There are hidden gems, free from the pressure of commercial success, crafted by authors deeply committed to research, understanding, and the art of writing itself. Their dedication resonates with me, as I believe in the profound value of information and the power of critical thinking. Through my own book, Traumatization and Its Aftermath, I aim to emphasize that psychological concepts often lose their depth in translation and my mission is spreading awareness and fostering a deeper understanding of trauma and its intricate facets. With that idea in mind, I chose these five titles. 

Antonieta's book list on uncovering the human experience and exploring the depths of trauma

What is my book about?

A fresh take on the difference between trauma and hardship in order to help accurately spot the difference and avoid over-generalizations.

The book integrates the latest findings in brain science, child development, psycho-social context, theory, and clinical experiences to make the case that trauma is much more than a cluster of symptoms to be tamed, but instead best understood as development gone off course, away from growth and towards (only) survival.

This book prompts a profound shift in perception, inviting to view trauma as an intricate and diverse experience, a point of view that ultimately leads to sharper treatment and, hopefully, more healing. It encourages a transition from asking, "What happened to you?" to the deeper question, "What is your relationship with what happened to you?"

Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

What is this book about?

The book is comprehensive, bold, and practical-a much-needed resource for the assessment and treatment of trauma. Instead of the traditional focus on the overall importance of healing, Traumatization and its Aftermath decodes why some people don't heal as easily as others, analyzes the various failures of diagnosis, and explains how to make therapeutic interventions truly effective.

This book offers a systemic deep dive into traumatization that clarifies myths and misinformation about the entire spectrum of trauma and provides both clinicians and non-clinicians with the right level of validation, preventive measures, conceptualization methodology, assessment tools, and healing facts that have not…


This book helped me understand why I could never talk myself out of my self-sabotage, especially the inability to stand up for myself and set boundaries.

I learned that my trauma responses are stored in my body (the nervous system) and that’s why logic and reason don’t heal them. Positive self-talk and behavior modification are nothing in the face of an unhealed nervous system.

I absolutely love books that combine intellectual rigor, genuine compassion, and an engaging writing style—and van der Kolk’s book ticks all three boxes.

Not only is it a helpful guide for understanding how trauma works and how it can be healed, it also helped me understand the significance of having a body.

Many of us tend to take this for granted, but our flesh and blood is what makes us uniquely human. Once we embrace this reality, it can benefit us in so many ways.

From Nick's list on leaders in uncertain times.

In The Body Keeps the Score, van der Kolk explains the lifelong impact of trauma on the mind and body, then introduces various therapeutic approaches to help survivors carry the crushing weight of their past. This book is a lifeline for survivors, validating their fragmented memories and reassuring them that their trauma responses are biological necessities rather than personal failures. As a writer, I love that many of the therapeutic approaches described in the book harness the power of imagination to reprocess traumatic memories—a transformative process of healing that’s nothing short of magical.

This widely popular book is paving the way for a revolution in awareness of how emotional energy manifests in the physical body. Finally, a medical doctor with traditional authority presents research that analytically substantiates this connection that we all have personal experience with.  I am grateful that this message is reaching so many people and helping them ask questions about how they can make connections in their own bodies to get their own healing answers. The next step is to do the work directly. ;-)

The Body Keeps the Score is well worth reading. I like how the book presented many cases to show how the brain processes information in traumas, or how it sometimes fails to process traumatic experiences. The author details in an easy-to-understand explanation how this failure can lead to PTSD. The book isn’t only about soldiers suffering from PTSD, but goes deeper into many real cases to show different reasons someone may have PTSD. I used the book for my research and learned about PTSD resulting from assault, adverse childhood traumas, and adult ordeals.

As someone who has been interested in the skin-brain connection, and the mind-body connection, and has written about how placebos can improve health, I found this book interesting. Bessel suggests that medications cannot 'cure' trauma; they can at best mediate the disruptive behavior of those affected. One of the foremost experts on post-traumatic stress disorders, Bessel has treated many military men. He shows how trauma and the associated stress literally rearrange a person’s brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust—and offers us innovative new treatments to reactivate these neurons. This book is less about drugs, and more…

There isn’t a human who lives in this life without accruing some trauma. Small t trauma or Big T Trauma, it doesn’t really matter. The body, like a container, does not distinguish or have a preference for what is being held inside. This book is a wildly important read for everyone. It teaches what those who have been made aware of their trauma already know—emotional pain is inside the body, and in order to process what’s trapped there, we need to go inside. Trauma occurs when the past remains present; the memory of the trauma doesn’t get absorbed or processed,…

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