Krista interviewed the psychiatrist and trauma specialist Bessel van der Kolk for the first time in 2013, as his book The Body Keeps the Score was about to be published. He is an innovator in treating the effects of overwhelming experiences. We call this “trauma” when we encounter it in life and news, and we tend to leap to address it by talking. But Bessel van der Kolk knows how some experiences imprint themselves beyond where language can reach. He explores state-of-the-art therapeutic treatments — including body work like yoga and eye movement therapy — and shares what he and others are learning on this edge of humanity about the complexity of memory, our need for others, and how our brains take care of our bodies.
Bessel van der Kolk is the founder and medical director of the Trauma Research Foundation in Brookline, Massachusetts. He’s also a professor of psychiatry at Boston University Medical School. His books include Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on the Mind, Body, and Society and The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.
This interview is edited and produced with music and other features in the On Being episode "Bessel van der Kolk – Trauma, the Body, and 2021." Find the transcript for that show at onbeing.org.
This show originally aired in July 2013.