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Bessel van der Kolk

Bessel van der Kolk (born 1943, Netherlands) is a Boston-based psychiatrist noted for his research in the area of post-traumatic stress since the 1970s. His work focuses on the interaction of attachment, neurobiology, and developmental aspects of trauma’s effects on people. His major publication, the New York Times bestseller The Body Keeps the Score, talks about how the role of trauma in psychiatric illness has changed over the past 20 years, what we have learned about the ways the brain is shaped by traumatic experiences, how traumatic stress is a response of the entire organism, and how that knowledge needs to be integrated into healing practices.

Bessel van der Kolk
The Hague [1]
Known forPosttraumatic stress disorder research
Scientific career
InstitutionsTrauma Center at Justice Resource Institute



Van der Kolk has published extensively on the effect trauma can have on development of mind, brain and body. He has found connections to dissociative problems, borderline personality disorder, self-mutilation, and a wide range of other issues.[2]

He was a co-principal investigator in the PTSD field trials for the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).[2]

Currently, he is researching how trauma can affect memory using brain imaging studies of PTSD patients. He is also researching how yoga and neurofeedback can be used as effective treatments for trauma.[3]

Professional activityEdit

A former Harvard Medical School professor of psychiatry, Bessel van der Kolk has served as president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, medical director of the Trauma Center at JRI in Brookline, Massachusetts, director of the Complex trauma Network within the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, and professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.[2] He also serves as a Senior Fellow at The Meadows.

In March of 2018 he was fired from the JRI trauma center based upon allegations of employee abuse, as reported by the Boston Globe[4]. He denied participation in abuse.


  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Viking Press, 2014.
  • Courtois, C. A., and Ford, J. D., eds. Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders: An Evidence-Based Guide. Foreword by J. L. Herman. Afterward by B. A. van der Kolk. New York: Guilford Press, 2009.
  • Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body
  • Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy
  • Van der Kolk, B.A., McFarlane AC, Weisaeth L (editors): Traumatic Stress: the effects of overwhelming experience on mind, body and society. New York, Guilford Press, 1996
  • Van der Kolk, B.A., Psychological Trauma. Washington DC, American Psychiatric Press, 1987.
  • Van der Kolk, B.A., ed. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Psychological and Biological Sequelae. Washington DC :American Psychiatric Press, 1984.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c "About Dr. Bessel van der Kolk". Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute. Retrieved 2011-02-12.
  3. ^ "Bessel van der Kolk". The Meadows. Retrieved 2011-02-12.
  4. ^ "Allegations of employee mistreatment roil renowned Brookline trauma center". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2018-06-13.

External linksEdit