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Peter Levine on releasing the physiological effects of trauma 03/01/2011

Posted by ALT in Treatments.
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From Peter Levine’s book Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma

“Trauamtic symptoms are not caused by the “triggering” event itself.  They stem from the frozen residue of energy that has not been resolved and discharged; this residue remains trapped in our nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and spirits.  The long-term, alarming, debilitating, and often bizarre symptoms of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] develop when we cannot complete the process of moving in , through, and out of the “immobility” and “freezing” state…

[See the immobility state as a potentially life-saving response to trauma in this video of a lion hunting a gazelle.  The gazelle freezes completely as the lion carries her off.  SHE IS NOT DEAD.  Her body's natural response is to freeze a. so that she may attempt an escape after lulling the lion into a false sense of security or b. she can protect herself from further trauma - in this state she experiences no pain.]

A threatened human must discharge all the energy mobilized to negotiate that threat or it will become a victim of trauma.  This residual energy does not simply go away.  It persists in the body, and often forces the formation of a wide variety of symptoms e.g., anxiety, depression, and psychosomatic and behavioral problems.  Thesee symtoms are the organism’s way of containing (or corralling) the undischarged residual energy.

Animals in the wild instinctively discharge all their compressed energy and seldom develop adverse symptoms.  We humans are not as adept in this arena.  When we are unable to liberate these powerful forces, we become victims of trauma.  In our often unsuccessful attempts to discharge these energies, we may become fixated on them.  Like a moth drawn to a flame, we may unknowingly and repeatedly create situations in which the possibility to release ourselves from the trauma trap exists, but without the proper tools and resources most of us fail…

Fortunately, the same immense energies that create the symptoms of trauma, when properly engaged and mobilized, can transform the trauma and propel us into new heights of healing, mastery, and even wisdom.  Trauma resolved is a great gift, returning us to the natural world of ebb and flow, harmony, love, and compassion… I believe that we humans have the innate capacity to heal not only ourselves, but our world, from the debilitating effects of trauma.”

- Peter Levine

You can also hear more from Peter Levine in this 45 minute interview about the premise of his “Somatic Experiencing” therapeutic response to trauma.

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Comments»

1. Cady Sims - 04/30/2011

Regarding Trauma and Post Trauma:
Unexpected trauma causes the entire being to be affected meaning spiritually, psychologically and physically which includes how brain chemistry has been altered and therefore how thoughts are altered which affects emotions, etc. It is very complicated.
Post trauma symptoms can come from anything whether associated with the original trauma or not.
Quite often a new environment as well as self help, medication and support/therapy is needed for as long as needed.
So, the entire human being is affected.
I recommend researching on physiological trauma as well.

2. Cady Sims - 04/30/2011

Let me add I’m probably speaking more on trauma/post trauma that doesn’t get resolved due to the individual(s) who caused the trauma. Knowing the person or persons who committed a crime or crimes against an innocent person and may still be committing the crimes against others plays a role in continual trauma. Some must be brought to Justice in the court rooms and punnished to the fullest extent of the law. Often, this does not happen. In this case, the heavy burden is upon the innocent person victimized to become strong again; even stronger and be ready if it becomes necessary to literally fight for ones very life.
Those who perpetrate any crimes against the innocent are cowards; remember that; it helps a bit :)
Learning the words of God, believing in God and practicing the words of God are of great help as well as Praying.

altmentalities - 05/02/2011

Hi Cady,

Thanks for sharing your knowledge on this very important subject! It seems like you’ve put a lot of thought into all of this…


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