What is trauma? | Bessel van der Kolk

What is trauma? | Bessel van der Kolk

What is trauma? | Bessel van der Kolk 640 359 TALK Hong Kong

The author of The Body Keeps the Score explains that trauma isn’t what happened to you but how you respond to it.  This is a very general discussion of trauma and the author isn’t trying to minimize abuse, but explain how trauma and the body works.


Contrary to popular belief, trauma is extremely common. We all have jobs, life events, and unpleasant situations causing us daily stress. But when your body continues to re-live that stress for days, weeks, months, or even years, that stress changes your brain, creating trauma inside your mind, and that trauma can eventually manifest in your physical body.

As you can see, trauma isn’t what happens to you, but how you respond to the traumatic situation. Something that is traumatic to one person may be no big deal to the next. Whether something becomes traumatic or not has a great deal to do with who’s around you while you experience this event. Were you alone and scared, were you comforted by friends and family?

The problem with trauma is that it starts when something happens to us, but that’s not where it stops – it changes your brain. Once your brain changes and you’re in constant fight or flight mode, it can be hard to stay focused, feel joy, or experience pleasure until this trauma is healed. Luckily, modern psychological practices are developing innovative ways to heal from trauma that actually work.

Read the video transcript

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