Author: Bessel A. van der Kolk
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review By: Shana
âThis book managed to be both scientifically grounded and rich in the personal and anecdotal. Simultaneously harrowing and hopeful. My own personal preferences and personality are grounded much more in the hard sciences than the soft, and that preference means I found the first 60% of the book much more engaging and convincing as the author spends that first part explaining the neurological, physical, and psychological mechanics of trauma and its lasting effects. This part of the book is clear and detailed, and van der Kolkâs crisp prose cannot help but to open oneâs eyes to the reality of what trauma does to people. Even in this section he does not merely expound the nuts and bolts of how trauma works. Instead, he interweaves thumbnail sketches of patients he has encountered and though done in broad outlines, the stories can be horrendous.
The remainder of the book talks about treatment and is wide ranging. The author does not forsake the hard science of the beginning of the book, but reveals himself entirely open to giving many other therapies and approaches a chance if they demonstrate any promise in lessening the extenuating and long-standing pain of trauma victims. This part of the book required me to try to shelve my own skepticism and prejudices and evaluate the information van der Kolk relays afresh. While I don't know that I am utterly convinced, I am certainly far more open to the idea that a number of less traditional approaches can have wondrous impacts on patients.
The author is not shy about his politics and directly addresses those who wish he would keep his politics separate from the science. He points out poignantly that the very trauma he sees (from veterans, abused children, etc.) often have their roots in long-standing societal issues that are exacerbated by political disagreements. Even if a reader does not agree with his specific stance, van der Kolk makes a convincing case that the most cost effective and humane way to treat trauma is to do what we can to prevent its occurrence. Highly recommended.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...