JANUARY 28, 2021
Exploring the effects of Childhood Trauma
Are you a writer?
Do you have a character who lived through a traumatic experience?
Is that character now afraid to trust or engage with other people?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, I have a terrific book recommendation for you for this first Research Thursday post.
I first found THE BODY KEEPS THE STORY by Bessel van der Kolk while working on my recent master’s degree in criminology (with a special focus in human behavior). As someone who also works with at-risk high school students who have experienced a wide array of traumas in their lifetimes, this was both an educational necessity and a human being necessity. You see, to understand the current battle someone else might be facing, even remotely, you first need to know what the brain, mind, and body might remember. This includes the kind of stress triggers that may arise from something as simple as someone else’s tone of voice, or as complicated as the heavy fall of footsteps or the creak of an old oak door.
The details, various aftereffects, and manifestations of traumatic stress that van der Kolk relays in this book can be used in fiction as well as in real life. It can help you create a believable, realistic backstory for a lot of different character types. A teenager going through a parental divorce or suffering from the emotional stress of parental alcohol or drug addiction, or the death of a friend or loved one. It can just as easily help you create an adult character who is still coping with the ravages of domestic abuse or any number of other childhood traumatic experiences.
A pioneering researcher and one of the world’s foremost experts on traumatic stress offers a bold new paradigm for healing
Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Such experiences inevitably leave traces on minds, emotions, and even on biology. Sadly, trauma sufferers frequently pass on their stress to their partners and children.
Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically, areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga, and other therapies. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score offers proven alternatives to drugs and talk therapy—and a way to reclaim lives.