Does the Body Keep the Score?

Traumatic events can overwhelm the brain, hijack the body, and distort one’s sense of self. Psychologists often address these responses through techniques that aim to integrate memories, promote personal insight, and deepen one’s understanding of the event. However, recent stress and trauma research has shown us that there are genetic, epigenetic, neurological, and hormonal mechanisms at play, and that understanding may not be enough to treat the symptoms. To learn more, Pioneer Works’ own Janna Levin sat down with Bessel van der Kolk—author of the New York Times best-selling book —and Rachel Yehuda—a pioneer in the epigenetics of trauma. Together, they considered the impact of trauma on our brains and bodies, pondering: Are we permanently damaged by trauma? Or is there resilience inherent in our very biology? ♦

Scientific Controversies brings together two scientists in conversation to explore unsolved quandaries. The focus is on ideas and the unknown, the precipice between where we are now and where we imagine the future will bring us.