Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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****Secrets, Lies, Betrayals

The Body/Mind Connection

How the Body Holds the Secrets of a Life, and How to Unlock Them

by Maggie Scarf

Reviewed June 23, 2004.
Random House, New York, 2004.  344 pages.

The main premise of this book is that sometimes the body holds onto things that the mind would like to let go.  I found that view plausible.  I was in a car accident when I was in college.  Still, when, out of the corner of my eye, I see a car pulling up on my right, my body flinches before my mind has a chance to process it.  There are many more, less harmless reactions that ones body may have as a result of things that happened in childhood.

Maggie Scarf doesn’t only work at establishing that there is a connection between the body and the mind.  She also explores new therapies that are being developed to deal with those body memories.    The first one, EMDR, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, uses flashing lights to cause rapid eye movement, as in REM sleep.  How it works isn’t completely clear, but it seems to signal to the brain that certain memories can be reprocessed.  This isn’t about uncovering hidden memories, but about taking old, hurtful memories, and desensitizing you so that they no longer have such a hold on your body.

Another therapy is the Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor therapy.  In this method, you work with a therapist and a group to act out painful memories and recreate new ones.

Both techniques have been shown to be far more effective in most cases than the traditional “talking cure.”  I was intrigued by her stories.

The book was a little heavy on the background of the people she interviewed who used the therapies.  One whole section was about a woman who didn’t end up trying either of these therapies.  I think that section was to establish that our body helps us recreate old hurtful patterns.  I would have liked more information about the therapies.  They sound intriguing, and the results that Maggie Scarf witnessed were impressive.

Still, I have to admit that the long case histories she gave were very interesting, and the book as a whole made fascinating reading.  I’d like to learn more about these therapies.  She gave websites for both: and

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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