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[Book] The Body Keeps the Score

Updated: Jun 30, 2021

Hello everyone, Clarissa here! I wish everyone have a nice week, and would love to suggest a reading for the weekend!


Since I was little, I have often heard a saying that sounds like this; “within a healthy body is a strong soul”. I believe, everyone agrees that physical health is closely related to mental. However, as I got older, in a lot of time I tend to forget the sayings. In this modern life, we are obliged to move fast, and for my case, to stay still in front of my computer.



A few days ago, I was reminded by the sayings as I stumble upon an interesting book by Bessel van Der Kolk, a dutch psychiatrist, titled The Body Keeps the Score. The major points of the book were to discuss the relation between the body and the mental trauma. Each stage of our life defines what we are today and how our body reacts to situations. The author suggests seeing the body as a score sheet of mental traumas. Our trauma will affect how we perceive ourselves and the world, and this perception would define on what we would do by and to our body.


Take an example of the childhood neglect trauma. The neglect trauma would result in children who does not know what it feels like to be loved or cherished, and they would perceive this as their inability to charm their parents who has to be the first person who loves them most. They will wire the low self-worth to their mind, and this mental note would be learned by the children as their mean of survival in the adult world. They would grow to be an adult who have a hard time to handle criticism, as they would see criticism as an attack. Their body too will respond to this; when in real life it does not possess an actual threat.


The neglected children who turn into the adult who has a hard time to live under their own skin tend to distance their mind off of their body, for example, they would think of sport as a way to have a more fit body shape so the people would adore them, or they will hate their acnes and scars because it would make them look disgusting for other people. They would have easier time to hate their own body because in their mind, that was the reason they were not adorned in their childhood. How they view their body would be skewed, as their mind had been too.


In trying to treat the mental trauma, the author recommends physical therapy on top of the traditional verbal therapy. He suggests having the body to experience what contradicts what the trauma has resulted to our body. For example, for people who have been hating their own self, to take part in sport with the goal of “having a healthier body for their own” rather than to please other people would help. One can start to overcome the trauma by accepting the fact of their mental scar, and further to be more aware of how our body reacts to a situation. Will it go under an alert mode when there is no actual risk around? Or has it been needing too much strong stimulus for the body to feel something?


In the end, treating traumas are possible, and to tell our body that we are living on today and not in our past will help the mind and the body to heal easier.

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