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Healing Trauma by Peter Levine- Resolving the Trapped Fight, Flight, Freeze Response

January 15, 2019

 

 

 

 

So today I’m going to do a super short book summary of one of my favorite and most recommended books “Healing Trauma” By Peter Levine. 

 

Now I love this book for many reasons, but one of the big ones is the size-it’s a super concise book, 104 pages including all the exercises. It probably takes an hour to read.  Now when you compare that to some of my other trauma books that I also love- The Body Keeps the Score: 440 pages, Getting Past your Past-343 pages, and Peter Levine’s other book: Waking the Tiger- 274 pages- the short and efficient nature of this book makes it more likely that someone will read it when I recommend it to them. 

 

The other thing I really like about this book is how it explains trauma- how stress and fear get trapped in the body in such a clear and simple way- that it opens up the way to healing in a powerful and body-based approach to recovery. 

 

What is Trauma: 

Peter Levine defines Trauma as something that happens to us faster than we can process it.  “We become traumatized when our ability to respond to a perceived threat is in some way overwhelmed” , it’s not the severity of the event that causes a traumatic response- two people in the same car crash may have completely different responses to that incident, one being shaken but fine, and the other getting trapped in cycles of anxiety- and one reason for this is our ability to process or move through the stages of our body’s reactions to a dangerous event. 

 

Resolving the Trapped Fight, Flight, Freeze Response

So Peter Levine is the pioneer of Somatic Experiencing- an approach to treating trauma through the body-  this is a research backed approach that can be very effective at helping people release the trauma that is impacting them in the present. He describes how our brain has these ancient survival responses that are very effective at keeping us alive, Fight, Flight, Freeze- and then how our Body has the inherent ability to naturally resolve those reactions when the danger is passed by discharging that stored energy. He shares an example of a Polar Bear who is tranquilized, is helpless to stop the researchers who examine it, tag it, etc and while the bear has experienced a traumatic event, after the researchers leave he begins to shake violently-his body’s natural response to burn off the excess adrenaline that surged through his body when he was trapped, and the bear walks off with no residual effects from the experience. 

 

Why Humans get in the way of their inherent ability to heal: 

We humans on the other hand often interfere with our body’s wisdom to move through and process traumatic events by avoiding them, trying to not think about them, in essence stifling that recovery response when we lack the resources to work through the intensity of emotions that come with a traumatic event. Dr. Levine’s approach, Somatic Experiencing, gives readers basic steps to resolve that trauma response through body based exercises. 

From this body-based approach Dr. Levine describes the common symptoms of trapped trauma, and a straightforward approach to resolving them. 
Because the trauma response is very much a physiological reaction, an important approach to healing trauma is to work through the body to create that healing. 

 

How to Practice: 

So the other thing I absolutely love about this book is how it includes 12 simple, body based exercises to reconnect to your body’s inherent healing wisdom. The exercises are written down, but it comes with a CD so you can listen to the exercises as well.  An example of one of these exercises is getting back in connection with your ownership of your body. So you start by looking at your hand, saying “This is my hand” tapping it with the other hand, getting in touch with it, until you feel and remember that it is part of your body, and then you move through your body doing that with each part. “This is my arm” “This is my foot”, etc. And while these exercises may seem simple, research and experience shows that they can have a powerful effect at resolving trapped trauma. 

 

To Buy "Healing Trauma" by Peter Levine : https://amzn.to/2SyPZtR
This Book Summary on my YouTube Account: https://youtu.be/twMSB8yuZbw
The Polar Bear video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eT4060GeodI&oref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DeT4060GeodI&has_verified=1

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