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Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score): A Revolutionary Treatment for Trauma

August 28, 2020

The best-selling author of The Body Keeps the Score discusses the revolutionary treatment of psychedelics for trauma.

Today I am speaking with trauma specialist Bessel van der Kolk, best-selling author of The Body Keeps the Score, a beloved book about healing our deepest wounds.

On the show we discuss Bessel’s work with MDMA therapy for trauma. We dispel the myth that PTSD is only something experienced by soldiers returning from war, and discuss how early attachment wounds can actually be more intractable to traditional treatment than acute trauma. We talk about why we get addicted to our own trauma and we review other psychedelic compounds like ketamine and ayahuasca.

At the end of the interview (after the outro music), Bessel generously addresses the unfortunate circumstances that lead to him being fired by the Justice Resource Institute, answering a question suggested by our Psychedelic Therapy Facebook group.

Bessel is an author, researcher, and sought after public speaker. In addition to founding Boston’s Trauma Center and his popular books, Bessel is also the Principle Investigator for MAPS’ MDMA trials at its East Coast hub in Boston.

Show notes



  • :04 - Bessel’s first experience with psychedelics
  • :09 - The iconic American image of the veteran with PTSD
  • :13 - Why psychedelics and trauma.
  • :18 - How psychedelic practitioners can work with trauma
  • :26 - Psychedelics and ancestral trauma
  • :31 - How we get addicted to our trauma
  • :35 - Attachment wounds vs acute trauma
  • :43 - MDMA therapy and psychodrama therapy
  • :55 - Ketamine as a trickster molecule
  • 1:07 - Bessel speaks directly to psychedelic therapists
  • 1:10 - Bessel addresses his termination from the Trauma Center he founded
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About Maya’s Podcast

A conversation series with leaders in the psychedelic community. Designed in service of therapists, healers, retreat leaders, and passionate enthusiasts

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