The body keeps the score 

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Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies. The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe. In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.

In my practice I begin the process by helping my patients to first notice and then describe the feelings in their bodies—not emotions such as anger or anxiety or fear but the physical sensations beneath the emotions: pressure, heat, muscular tension, tingling, caving in, feeling hollow, and so on. I also work on identifying the sensations associated with relaxation or pleasure. I help them become aware of their breath, their gestures and movements.

All too often, however, drugs such as Abilify, Zyprexa, and Seroquel, are prescribed instead of teaching people the skills to deal with such distressing physical reactions. Of course, medications only blunt sensations and do nothing to resolve them or transform them from toxic agents into allies. 

The mind needs to be reeducated to feel physical sensations, and the body needs to be helped to tolerate and enjoy the comforts of touch. Individuals who lack emotional awareness are able, with practice, to connect their physical sensations to psychological events. Then they can slowly reconnect with themselves.

4 thoughts on “The body keeps the score 

    Anthony Turi said:
    May 19, 2015 at 18:54

    This is such an excellent article. The recent articles about healing are so relevant and true. As a (trainee) (Gestalt) therapist, I find them so relevant. Thank you.

    Anthony Turi said:
    May 19, 2015 at 18:56

    … I mean the recent articles you have been posting about healing on your site are so helpful. This one and the previous one about mirroring too. I really agree with them. Thanks again. 🙂

    Darque said:
    May 23, 2015 at 18:53

    Reblogged this on Darque Thoughts.

    […] enjoyed myself with “the body keeps the score”, a brilliant book that I probably will reread many times since it`s packed with tips and […]

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