Bessel van der Kolk

‘What we tend to leave out of most of our discussions about human functioning is to what degree we are primates. We have brains in order to get along with each other, to be with other people, to connect with other people. That’s really what we are fundamentally all about. And so, much of trauma is about a rupture of the safety of the people who are supposed to protect you and the people who are supposed to come to your help.

So basically, the way that we are wired is that we are wired to not be able to do everything by ourselves, but to be able to look for help and for other people to take over when we can no longer do the job ourselves. And that’s perfectly normal. But if, at that point, the people you can count on most are not there for you, let you down, have been killed, or whatever, then it’s entirely up to you. It’s a much harder thing to deal with terrible situations…

We are synchronous human beings. The source of pleasure in our lives is to be in sync with each other.’ (from the New York Times)

I hope this week of posts about the mind was as interesting for you as it was for me to think about. You may have noticed that three of the six posts came from Ezra Klein’s podcast in the New York Times, which I have been finding consistently illuminating.

One thought on “Bessel van der Kolk

  1. Wonderful post Shundo. For the last year I have been working on a new book about the earliest days of the space program. We launched chimpanzees into space not knowing if human beings could survive.

    The dedicated separation of humans and simians fell apart within that work as the human trainers developed relationships with their chimpanzees they were to prepare for flight. They had been warned not to become close. For some, they did do that and the hazards were evident. But for others, it didn’t work and the trainer and chimpanzee fell in love with each other. “I felt closer to Chang than any pet I have ever owned—- and many people.” Chang would later be named Ham after he survived his flight. For the public, he was officially without a name because the project directors did not want the public to feel any affinity in case Chang died in the 20 minute flight.

    I have been touched, both by the cruelty possible with dedicated separation (“they are not us…”) along with the realization of the closest trainers (“they may be better than us…”)

    Anyway, you post brings this back to me. Thank you.

    I can’t show you a picture of Chang here, but he was a sweet and very smart chimpanzee.


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