Rhythms of Recovery: Trauma, Nature,
and the Body
Book/Film Review | July 28, 2014 | PTSD, Film And Book Reviews
By James Lake, MD
Reviewed by James Lake, MD
by Leslie E. Korn; New York: Routledge; 2014
336 pages • $39.95 (paperback)
Rhythms of Recovery: Trauma, Nature, and the Body is
the first scholarly work that attempts to fill the enormous gap in the conventional
armamentarium used to treat PTSD. Dr Korn’s clinical work in rural Mexico and
academic training at Harvard eminently qualify her to unite the complex threads of
conventional and alternative therapies into a compelling tapestry of therapies addressing
the complex social, psychological, cultural, biological, and energetic causes and
meanings of traumatic experience. Her book will be received with welcome relief by
trauma therapists and their patients who have grown weary of the limited narrative of
The first 3 chapters provide concise reviews of the historical progression of theories
about the causes and meanings of traumatic experiences, paradigms of disease and
diagnosis, and contemporary psychological and neurobiological models of trauma.
Chapter 4 is a masterful exegesis of the variety of human dissociative experiences,
including valuable insights into the assessment of dissociative symptoms in the context of
unique social and cultural circumstances that shape responses to trauma.
Dr Korn then explores the roles of touch, or somatic empathy. She describes polarity
therapy and other traditional therapies for which touch is regarded as a central component
of maintaining wellness, enhancing emotional resilience, and achieving healing.
Mainstream and alternative approaches used to evaluate the type and severity of
symptoms that may emerge following trauma in relationship to the many complex factors
that determine a person’s unique responses to trauma are discussed. Especially
compelling is Dr Korn’s discussion of culture and spiritual values and beliefs when
evaluating the subjective experiences and internalized meanings that result from trauma.
The following chapters provide a concise review of nonpharmacological therapies used to
treat the emotional and spiritual sequelae of trauma. Dr Korn introduces her concept of
“rhythms” of recovery, or a step-wise progression from stabilization to uncovering and
story-telling in the second stage, and finally to “reconnection” and recovery in the third
and final stage. The roles of nutrition in general and of specific natural products in
maintaining emotional resilience and treating the sequelae of trauma are examined.
In the final chapters, Dr Korn discusses the therapeutic benefits of detoxification. In its
broadest sense, detoxification is a concept that acknowledges the central importance of
culture in shaping “healing” responses to trauma, yet it is seldom, if ever, discussed in the
mainstream medical literature. Dr Korn outlines the physical, emotional, mental, and
spiritual levels that may require cleansing or spiritual purification following trauma.
Her discussion on spirit molecules is a refreshingly objective appraisal of the risks and
benefits associated with psychoactive plants. Dr Korn reviews pertinent findings on LSD,
MDMA, cannabis, salvia, and other psychoactive plant materials and concludes with an
open-minded yet neutral perspective about the potential risks and benefits of spirit
molecules in the treatment of traumatized individuals.
Dr Korn knows whereof she writes. Her book grew out of the personal wisdom that can
only come from years of dedicated work with trauma survivors. Challenging
circumstances constantly demand openness to new ways of seeing trauma and call for
innovative solutions when conventional therapies do not work or are not available.
This book broadens contemporary understandings of trauma beyond the current confines
of academic discourse to complex real-world issues of culture and spirit. I strongly
recommend this book as an essential resource and guide for clinicians and their patients
who have experienced trauma.
- See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/ptsd/rhythms-recovery-trauma-nature-and-