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Pertinent Posts from the On Being Blog

For service members returning home from combat, PTSD diagnoses are commonplace and extensive. But one VA psychologist argues that the complications of PTSD compound to create a moral injury — one that requires a community, not a clinic, in order to heal.

Can a yoga class really make a difference in the midst of a war zone? Emily O'Dell on finding our way home.

Folks continue to gift us with picturesque images of their physical sanctuaries and healing spaces. The common themes? Home and nature.

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From thousands of feet above the ground, a woman walks on a cliff-side plank path at Hua Shan sacred mountain in China.

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I loved this interview for many reasons.

Bessel only briefly touched on the effects of too-much-dreadful-news, and how to deal with it. Do any of you have thoughts on how to stay informed of what's happening in the world without getting stressed and guilty over every terrible suffering on the screen. I know taking action is important, but even if one takes action to help Hurricane Sandy victims, there's still Sandy Hook killings, cholera in Haiti, the BP oil spill. How do you respond (or help your clients respond) to content news of others' trauma?

Bessil described EMDR as a bizarre and wonderful therepy but better done with someone else, which limits its access to people like Roberta In northern MN. EFT is a technique that is also bizarre and wonderful, which Hannah mentioned previously, but is much more accessible. Gary Craig, who developed it, describes the process in clear, precise detail on his website . Just about anyone can learn to reduce the stress of all their traumas large and small through EFT all by themselves.
Krista, of all the topics you cover, this is right on top in importance for the sane functioning of our society.

I was excited to listen to your conversation with Dr. van der Kolk. Body integrated psychotherapies have been around for a long time but overall have lost favor with the mainstream treatment community. Alexander Lowen was a student of Wilhelm Reich and developed Bioenergetic Analysis -- -- as a method of integrating movement, body reconnection, and emotional healing. I have found his work remarkable and profound for me as both a client and as a clinician.

Additionally, David Bercelli has developed a treatment for PTSD called TRE (Trauma Releasing Exercises) - -- that also integrates body awareness and restoration of the body's natural trembling to promote trauma recovery. While Bioenergetic Analysis and EMDR require considerable training, anyone can learn TRE and use it immediately. There is even a YouTube video demonstrating TRE. Check it out! Even for a person without trauma, TRE is extremely relaxing!

Thanks for a great show!

I 've tried TRE and , you're exactly right, it absolutely promotes trauma recovery---quickly, dramatically, and easily. It changed my life.

I am very pleased to see the attention to Yoga, EMDR to treat PTSD. I've practiced Yoga for 37 years in settings all over the world (it's also a very portable way to exercise and meditate, even in war zones) and have also worked as a disaster, trauma mental health therapist for many years...also in various settings from NY after 9/11 to Cambodia, Egypt, and other places in the world experiencing trauma to their way of life. I've also experienced my own PTSD to the point of hallucinations and panic has been Yoga and meditation that has helped me to help myself and others to find safety and trust in the world again. The wounds are emotional, moral, and core to who we are.....hearts can physically hurt, sometimes like a spear through the soul.

Enjoyed listening to this program. Please put me on list for newsletter and future podcasts. Intrigued and curious about the links made between healing through movement, within community, and the reclaiming of one's integrity when there is deliberate and Imposed hurt. As a trauma therapist, I am enlivened continuously by the never ending connections that is 'the life force and its' potential to transform.'
Barbara A Martino
Thank you,

Thank you so much for exploring this topic. I personally spent almost 10 years in talk therapy for early childhood trauma with a very competent therapist. It accomplished almost nothing except to re-traumatize me over and over again.
I later found someone trained in EMDR and finally found some peace. Many triggers no longer send me into flashbacks. I am a fan.

Again, thank you for explaining more about the mind/body connection as it relates to trauma. Responses that feel hard-wired CAN be accessed and re-directed.

Thank you, once again, for getting the word out.

I listened to your interview with Dr. van der Kolk as I took my evening beach walk. In the beginning of the interview when Dr. van der Kolk talks about how the body must move to heal from trauma, I burst into tears and sobbed for several minutes. This came out of nowhere . . . somehow it resonated with my mind on a very deep level of consciousness and my body recognized it's truth. I have had a drive to move my body by walking, hiking, biking, kayaking and horseback riding for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a tumultuous household with an alcoholic father. When I was 18, I was a passenger on a motorcycle that was hit by a car. I spent a month in the hospital and nearly a year of recuperation. They saved a leg (two inches shorter) and that is why I thought I've had this fervor for movement ever since (40 years later). I've had other traumatic events in life and realize that I probably drew them to me because of my past experiences. I practice yoga but will do more since hearing this interview. Your interviews are such a gift Krista but this one in particular has changed my life and as I read other comments, the lives of many. Thank you and a huge thank you to Dr. Van der Kolk for his work. I will absolutely pass this interview on . . .

As a trauma survivor, I use yoga as a way to reconnect to the body, but last year I learned about sensorimotor therapy, which uses eye tracking and other methods to release trauma stored in the brain and the body. Since beginning this therapy, I have been able to release the pain stored in the brain, the old "scars" from trauma. For other trauma survivors, this might also be useful.

Thank you for another valuable show.

I listened to this podcast while on a break from my job as a wilderness therapy guide. We work with adolescents and young adults struggling with a variety of challenges, most of which are easily traced back to trauma of some sort. What a peacefully loving, inspiration-ally intelligent interview! We practice yoga in the field with our clients and with their families at home and this interview was so affirming. Thank you. You can learn more about us at

Enjoyed thoughtful dialogue on Trauma. I specialize in the effects of trauma on children. These children are victims of complex-relational abuse. Would like to have heard more on therapies with these children because their brains are so deeply impacted by abuse and neglect. Single trauma in adults is a whole other domain when it comes to understanding trauma. Thanks for the window on such an important topic.
gary reece, ph.d.

The "neuroscience" and "trauma" research camps need to talk! :)
FROM Alice Walton at FORBES:

How Yoga Could Help Keep Kids In School

OR "How yoga might save the US trillions of dollars and a lot of lives"

".. you have to go (BEYOND) the "neuroscience-of-meditation" field and look to the trauma research, which tells us that physical activity can help the brain deal with stress and trauma. “Trauma research tell us that we hold trauma in our bodies… The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex doesn’t even talk to the amygdala."

Neuroscience says MINDFULNESS; trauma research says MOVEMENT. All of the sudden you’ve got moving meditation or mindfulness in motion. Mindfulness alone isn’t going to cut it for these kids.” One theory is that because the executive areas of the brain can be affected by stress and trauma, “getting in” through another avenue is key."

Read it all here:

Thank you for this moving and informative interview. I personally found Trager bodywork to be transformative in overcoming my PTSD symptoms. I also found yoga, cranial sacral, acupuncture and meditation very helpful.

So many answers!! I kind of already knew that PTSD doesn't improve with just "talking it out" since I have done plenty of that. I have been telling friends, family and therapists that "something broke inside of me, a switch came off in my brain" but had not heard a good scientific explanation until I listened to this podcast. As I listened to Dr. van der Kolk, I realized that there is still hope for me to get better, to feel less disabled. Thank you! I am looking forward to an appointment with an EMDR practitioner in my area.

Please forward to Bessel van der Kolk:

As part of that effort, I'm also looking at the "individual" psychic immune system, and all I seem to be able to find is that individuals with positive affect have stronger physical immune systems, or that individuals with stronger family ties and support systems, have higher resistance to disease.

I'm less interested in physiological immunity than psychological immunity.

Your paper on repetition compulsion is excellent, but there we see individuals repeating traumatic experiences.

I'm looking for empirical evidence that individuals exposed to trauma tend to avoid those situations in the future, that is that they learn from traumatic exposures and their own mistakes and repeat these events less and less. The same way that you were once exposed to influenza, the second time around, your immune response is stronger and your infection weaker.

That a psychological immune response develops, or is conditioned, and that through learning and exposure, psychological defenses and immunities are conditioned and increase in strength.. . . that's what I'm looking for. We don't know the name of any of these psychological antibodies that develop. I'm eager to find them, identify them (or name them), and cite evidence for their existence.

Can you suggest any sources, articles, or directions I might follow?

Jerry Kroth, Ph.D.
Associate Professor Emeritus
Santa Clara University has soothing qualities...ho would have known!

Very helpful discussion. Thank you

I've been into yoga for the past few month and I would like to say that it really helps my body feel much better than ever. I've taken a yoga class before and the instructor was really helpful and keep motivating us.
Right now I changed my yoga style and tried stand up paddle boards yoga (SUP Yoga). Really really enjoy yoga on paddle boards. You guys should try it out. If you are interested in SUP yoga and want to find SUP boards that is best for you, check out my site I'd really happy if it's help you guys. :)


Voices on the Radio

is Medical Director of the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts. He’s also Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School. His books include Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on the Mind, Body and Society.

Production Credits

Host/Executive Producer: Krista Tippett

Senior Editor: Trent Gilliss

Senior Producer: David McGuire

Technical Director: Chris Heagle

Coordinating Producer: Stefni Bell