Dutch-born and US-trained psychiatrist, Bessel van der Kolk, has for many years investigated the long-term consequences of trauma and its effect on the mind, brain and body. Trauma keeps people stuck in the past, his research shows, causing changes in the brain, and in the body's hormonal, immunological and perceptual systems. He and his colleagues have focused on how profoundly trauma, abuse and neglect affect the formation of mind and self, confining people in a condition of terror, self-loathing, collapse and rage. Van der Kolk's efforts to redefine what trauma is, and establish appropriate recovery therapy for both its acute and chronic manifestations, is outlined in his latest book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. It has been on the New York Times Science bestseller list for more than a year. Van der Kolk will talk about his path-breaking work at the South End library on Tuesday, October 27 at 6:30 PM. A decades-long resident of the South End, van der Kolk is founder and director of the Trauma Center in Brookline, MA, part of a larger social-justice non-profit called the Justice Resource Institute. According to a 2014 New York Times interview with Jeneen Interlandi, van der Kolk had concluded broadly that "the mind follows the body" and that successful trauma treatment would have to be through the body, not the mind. "In so many cases, it was patients’ bodies that had been grossly violated, and it was their bodies that had failed them — legs had not run quickly enough, arms had not pushed powerfully enough, voices had not screamed loudly enough to evade disaster," Interlandi wrote. Van der Kolk told her that, in his opinion, “the single most important issue for traumatized people is to find a sense of safety in their own bodies," but that "unfortunately, most psychiatrists pay no attention whatsoever to sensate experiences. They simply do not agree that it matters.”
Bessel van der Kolk will be introduced by his colleague and South End neighbor, Ed Tronick, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at UMass, Boston, director of its Child Development Center, and a lecturer at Harvard.
The event is free. Books will be available for sale, signing and, yes, borrowing. The South End library is fully handicapped accessible. Seating is limited. We serve refreshments.