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Somatic Experiencing for trauma: has anyone tried?

I've recently started reading the book

"Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma" By Peter Levine.


Peter works with a technique he calls "somatic experiencing", that I'm still slowly trying to understand but apparently it gets really good results, both for people who have been traumatised and in terms of promoting resilience in people who might be around potentially traumatising circumstances eg.


So I'm pretty excited about it. My current therapist is hoping to be able get funding to train for it too so we can do the therapy together.


It's been making me reflect a lot about tips for reducing our fear-based arousal and I've been noticing how much easier I can think and reflect when the fear subsides.


I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with somatic experiencing or with other trauma therapies that are aimed to reduce arousal and change arousal patterns (such as EMDR, neurofeedback, long term meditation etc) I'd love to hear how they worked.


I worked though and integrated a lot of metaphorical stuff instinctively and with the help of a psyhodynamic therapist in ways that ultimately ended up with me experiencing the metaphors and emotions again somatically but also experientially so I could integrate them (eg in my particular case, I needed to actually go into the experience of the unprocessed altered states of consciousness to feel the feelings trapped there to be able to understand and integrate them properly in that case for me personally, they weren't so much traumatic as metaphorical and it wasn't just body feelings but a kind of whole-of-experience so this somatic thing is a bit confusing for me!)


now I just get the run-of-the-mill textpook PTS responses, which is strangely encouraging - all my metaphors are back being accessble to my conscious mind so they don't sneak up on me anymore in bad ways, I'd actually forgotten that sense of wonder in the world was always a part of my life before and it's really nice to have it back as a regular part of me.


I'm not sure if healing from the fear response will be anything like this - but it's all a bit exciting to think that it might be integrated too - i just don't know what to expect or what life will be like once I've done that.


I'd love to hear any stories anyone has of experience with these techniques - whether they are positive or negative ones, it's always good to learn!


Thanks heaps!






Re: Somatic Experiencing for trauma: has anyone tried?

I just noticed in reading the first study in my last post - I would have been excluded from access to the study of this technique on the basis of being assessed as having a "history of psychosis", it's sad that we still have so little willingness to understand or even examine our own inherent assumptions in the allocation of labels like "psychosis" that are attached to inherent belief systems.


I wonder if I could have got around the study by answering 'no' in the initial interview because I technically never did have 'psychosis' - as the construct is simply meaningless to me, my experiences were metaphors, stories and feelings I hadn't let myself feel all packed up tight and needing to be felt, understood and processed. Important parts of myself separated and needing to be reconnected with. The idea of 'psychosis' is so far away from that it may as well be from a different planet.


One day, I hope very soon, the cognitive dissonance that stops people from recognising that their desire to categorise experience as 'psychosis' is a purely ideologial and socio-cultural one, not something 'factual', and at that point it stops being forced on other people.


I don't know how many people know this but one of the reasons why it's been so hard to get clinical trials for psychosocial approaches and understandings of altered states of consciousness is that they have been actively blocked over the years. It's also important to recognise that clinical trials are statistical - they don't actually indicate that particular therapies or processes have been helpful for individual people at all.


It would be nice if there is to be an accusation that certain people are less resilient than others that it should be accompanied by an objective stress-test that anyone can participate in.  And that anyone can re-sit as many times as they need to. These prejudicial rules of thumb that assume past experience leads to increased vulnerability when there is every reason to recognise it might be processed and integrated and actually then lead to greater resilience are no less of a false and cruel discrimination and denial of opportunity than beliefs that women were less smart or competent at making decisions - which was also once 'common knowledge' that led to public policy - for peoples own good.If there is going to be a society that claims 'resilience' is a good reason to gatekeep opportunity, let it be competitive and merit based so that everyone has a shot. And everyone is gate-kept equally by a merit based exam, not a prejudice that falsely claims they have lower ability because of past experience. But I think the reality is that while such blanket stress tests might be of benefit when people are going to extremely remote locations or extreme envioronments, they shouldn't be gatekeepers to basic rights, freedoms and opportunities - imagine what life would be like if they were? What a horrible dystopia. It's not better when gatekeeping to freedom or opportunity is done on the basis of socio-cultural predjudices and beliefs and not objective exams that directly test resilience, it's worse. Of course, one does have to beg the question: how exactly do we test reslience anyway? that's a whole other question.


I think that's a really important thing to focus on. I don't regret any aspect of my experience save for those decisions I have made which lead to irreparable harm to others. In reality the biggest decision I made which did that were not the ones that follow the prejudices of our society - quite the opposite, the most harmful thing I ever did to another person involved putting them in services that traumatised and harmed someone who was also processing an altered state of consciousness. It breaks my heart to recognise this, but I feel it's something I must do, that we all must do.


It makes me wonder if prejudice and trauma are not physiolocially related - as both involve fear and both involve a suspension of logically stepping through our beliefs - when we do that putting it all on the page - we can see that there is of course risk in all decisions and there is nothing 'safe' about locking someone up because we don't understand their mental state and thus assume that it is so dangerous the person needs to be confined.


I remember the fear I felt when I couldn't predict my sister's actions, and with a heavy heart I realise it was my fear of the unknown that led me to hurt her.



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