47 pages • 1 hour readBessel van der Kolk
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Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. is one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma. He is the founder and medical director of the Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts. He teaches psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and directs the National Complex Trauma Treatment Network.
Growing up in Holland shortly after the end of World War II, van der Kolk saw evidence of trauma around him from a young age, including in his own home, as his father had survived internment by the Nazis and his mother had experienced difficulties in her own upbringing. Van der Kolk’s interest in trauma sparked during his time “as a staff psychiatrist at the Boston Veterans Administration Clinic” (7) at the beginning of his career. At the clinic, he met a Vietnam veteran suffering from what would eventually be called posttraumatic stress disorder, an encounter that inspired van der Kolk both to reexamine his understanding of his own past and to want to help others suffering from the same difficulties.
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Van der Kolk has spent the rest of his career to the present day trying to understand trauma, what causes it, what effects it has on the mind, brain, and body, and how to treat it effectively.