The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease


Measure the neurophysiological changes associated with PTSD and whiplash!

Using the clinical model of the whiplash syndrome, this groundbreaking book describes the alterations in brain chemistry and function induced in individuals by what is known as traumatic stress or traumatization—experiencing a life-threatening event while in a state of helplessness. The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease presents evidence of the resulting and relatively permanent ...

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Measure the neurophysiological changes associated with PTSD and whiplash!

Using the clinical model of the whiplash syndrome, this groundbreaking book describes the alterations in brain chemistry and function induced in individuals by what is known as traumatic stress or traumatization—experiencing a life-threatening event while in a state of helplessness. The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease presents evidence of the resulting and relatively permanent alteration in neurophysiology, neurochemistry, and neuronal organization.

This book convincingly demonstrates that these changes create lasting effects on the emotional and physical well-being of the victim—changes correlated with many of the most common, yet poorly understood, physical complaints and diseases, including whiplash, migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other painful, difficult-to-treat conditions. Further, the causes and effects of retraumatization are explored, clarifying the reasons some patients suffer fresh trauma over relatively minor incidents while others handle major traumas more easily.

This groundbreaking volume backs up its new theory of PTSD neurophysiology with cogent theory and persuasive evidence, including:

  • case studies correlating clinical features of trauma and dissociation with compelling physiological rationales for the symptoms
  • solid documentation drawing from the medical and psychiatric literature of PTSD, whiplash, brain injury, epidemiology of trauma, and a variety of disease processes linked to trauma
  • in-depth discussions of medical traumatization of patients, including the results of pediatric procedures and ineffective anesthesia
  • demonstrations that somatization and conversion are not imagined symptoms but result from measurable autonomic physiological alteration of the affected organ
  • a well-documented exploration of the effect of prenatal and neonatal trauma on later emotional development, response to traumatic life events, and disease and mortality
This impressive empirical evidence that body, brain, and mind are a continuum offers a powerful new paradigm to medical and mental health professionals, as well as new hope to sufferers from trauma. With a foreword by Bessel van der Kolk and helpful figures, The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease is an essential resource for the in-the-trenches professionals who confront the effects of trauma and resulting somatic consequences. It will be of compelling interest and usefulness to family practice physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners, speech and physical therapists, counselors and psychotherapists, and any medical or mental health professional who treats physical or emotional trauma.
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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Nicholas Greco IV, MS, BCETS, CATSM (Columbia College of Missouri)
Description: This is one of the more purposeful and thought-provoking books on trauma available. The clinical model of the whiplash syndrome affecting both the body and the mind is explored in detail, and the reader is given a well rounded discussion of this fascinating perspective.
Purpose: The purpose is to give both professional and lay readers a new perspective on the complexities of trauma through the use of case vignettes, strong empirical evidence, and appropriate medical and psychological theory.
Audience: The author smartly revised this second edition to make it more accessible for lay readers. He still maintains the strong empirical foundation professional readers would expect, but he has reduced complexity, redundancy, and unneeded jargon. Professionals in the fields of rehabilitation, psychotherapy, patient care, and general medical practice will find this book of most benefit. The author is a highly skilled neurologist who brings 36 years of experience to this book.
Features: Among the highlights are the case vignettes that begin each chapter and are covered within the chapters as well. These vignettes pull the ideas of the chapter together and make for reading that makes the book difficult to put down. The discussion of the whiplash syndrome is broken down into two chapters, and those doubtful of the whiplash syndrome will be hard pressed not to become believers. Especially useful chapters are those on the diseases of traumatic stress and on the sources of trauma.
Assessment: This is a great addition to the field. Simply put, it is one of the finest books I have read in the area of trauma.

3 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789033345
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 11/29/2007
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 302
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert C. Scaer, MD, received his BA in Psychology, and his MD degree at the University of Rochester. He is Board Certified in Neurology, and has been in practice for 36 years, twenty of those as Medical Director of Rehabilitation Services at the Mapleton Center in Boulder, CO. His primary areas of interest and expertise have been in the fields of traumatic brain injury and chronic pain, and more recently in the study of traumatic stress and its role in physical and emotional symptoms, and in diseases. He has lectured extensively on these topics, and has published several articles on posttraumatic stress disorder, the whiplash syndrome, and other somatic syndromes of traumatic stress. His books include The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease, which presented a new theory of dissociation and its role in many diseases, and The Trauma Spectrum: Hidden Wounds and Human Resiliency, which addressed the broad and relatively unappreciated spectrum of cultural and societal trauma that shapes every aspect of our lives. He is currently retired from clinical medical practice, and continues to pursue a career in writing and lecturing in the field of traumatology.
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Table of Contents


  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. Concepts of Traumatization: The Role of Boundaries
  • The Concept of Boundaries
  • The Role of Boundaries in Trauma
  • Boundaries and Childhood
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 2. Trauma, Instinct, and the Brain: The Fight/Flight/Freeze Response
  • Brain Responses to Stress
  • Fighting, Fleeing, or Freezing
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 3. The Whiplash Syndrome I: Symptoms in Search of a Meaning
  • The History of Whiplash
  • The Clinical Syndrome
  • Physical Forces and Structural Injury
  • The Pathophysiology of Whiplash
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 4. The Whiplash Syndrome II: A Model for Traumatization
  • Memory Mechanisms in Trauma
  • Somatic Responses to Stress
  • The Meaning of Speed
  • The Physiology of Traumatization
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 5. Trauma and Brain Plasticity
  • The History of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Psychiatry
  • The Developing Brain
  • The Development of Character
  • Brain Plasticity in Trauma
  • Objective Measures of Brain Change in Trauma
  • The Permanence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 6. Diseases of Traumatic Stress
  • The Pathophysiology of Stress
  • Stress versus Trauma
  • The Hypothalamic/Pituitary/Adrenal Axis
  • Stress, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Immune Function
  • The Diseases of Trauma
  • Morbidity and Mortality
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 7. Trauma Reenactment
  • Introduction
  • The Roots of Reenactment
  • Clinical Features
  • Gender Differences
  • The Anniversary Syndrome
  • Reenactment Through Risk-Taking
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 8. Somatic Dissociation
  • Examples of Dissociation
  • Memory in Dissociation
  • Cognitive and Emotional Features
  • Dissociative Physical Symptoms
  • Conversion and Dissociation
  • The Autonomic Nervous System in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • The Concept of Boundaries
  • Somatic Dissociation and Disease
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 9. Sources of Trauma
  • The Definition of Traumatic Stress
  • Expose to Combat
  • Child Abuse
  • Societal Trauma
  • Medical Trauma
  • The Role of Past Trauma
  • Awareness During Anesthesia
  • Pediatric Medical Trauma
  • Childhood Medical Trauma
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 10. Trauma Therapy: Future Directions
  • Counseling and Verbal/Cognitive Therapy
  • Exposure and Desensitization Techniques
  • Somatically Based Therapies
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
  • Somatic Experiencing
  • The “Power Therapies”
  • Pharmacotherapy of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 11. Case Histories: The Somatic Spectrum of Trauma
  • A State of Vulnerability
  • Somatic Representations of Prior Trauma
  • Medical and Forensic Retraumatization
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
  • The Mysterious Piriformis
  • Disorders of Speech in Trauma
  • Spasmodic Torticollis: An Aberration of the Orienting Reflex
  • Dissociation and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Comments
  • Postscript
  • Notes
  • Index
  • Reference Notes Included
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2004

    Best PTSD resource available

    This book is the best, most current information available for understanding the very real problem of PTSD. So little is known about this disorder and so much information is generic and too basic. This book offers less well known but critical information about PTSD to help its victims reclaim their lives. This book helps to put a face to the faceless monster of PTSD that its victims face.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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