bessel van der kolk: the impacts of trauma lodging in the body18 Apr 2017
i’m catching up on on being and, as usual, it’s blowing my mind. the interviewee, bessel van der kolk, studies trauma. i’ll probably write on this a few times, but right now i’m thinking about some points he made regarding trauma, narrative, and the body.
there’s a ton that i’m leaving out, but here’s the thought trajectory that’s most interesting to me right now.
people are narrative machines. we turn everything into narrative. sleep (probably among other things) helps us turn our everyday activities and memories into stories, which is how we store them long term. this process is why we remember things differently over time. it’s also what allows memories to be less “feelingful.” we can go to bed angry and wake up calmer because we’ve processed it. (my words now: it’s not perfect, but i presume it’s what allows us to remember so much while still being open to the new).
traumatic moments are an exception. for a reason i don’t yet understand, traumatic moments are prevented from being turned into story. the moments aren’t processed. they, therefore, replay themselves over and over in our mind. psychosomatic disorders are right in this lane. post traumatic stress disorder is an extreme example.
because of non-processing of trauma, when we are stuck reliving the trauma moment, our bodies feel the same things they did the first time. often, this is extremely painful.
as a result, a common self-defense mechanism is to (intentionally or not) severe the connection between the brain and the body. people who have experienced trauma report (and i’ve seen this in my own limited observations as well) not being able to feel many things.
fucking crazy. this is making so many other things make sense…
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