“Trauma is an internal straitjacket created when a devastating moment is frozen in time. It stifles the unfolding of being, and strangles our attempts to move forward with our lives. It disconnects us from ourselves, others, nature and spirit. When overwhelmed by threat, we are frozen in fear, as though our instinctive survival energies were ‘all dressed up with no place to go.’
Somatic Experiencing offers a new and hopeful perspective on trauma. It views the human animal as a unique being, endowed with an instinctual capacity to heal, as well as the intellectual spirit to harness that innate capacity. It asks and answers an intriguing question: Why are animals in the wild, though routinely threatened, rarely traumatized? By understanding the dynamics that make wild animals virtually “immune” to traumatic symptoms, the mystery of human trauma is unveiled.
Somatic Experiencing is a short-term naturalistic approach to the resolution of post-traumatic stress reactions. It is based upon the ethological observation that animals in the wild utilize innate mechanisms which regulate and neutralize the high levels of arousal associated with defensive survival behaviors.
Somatic Experiencing normalizes the symptoms of trauma, which bind this arousal, and offers the steps needed to resolve activation and heal trauma.
Although humans possess regulatory mechanisms virtually identical to those in animals, these systems are often overridden by neo-cortical inhibition (through the rational mind). This restraint leads to the formation of a constellation of symptoms, including pain, patterns of bracing and collapse, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety, and a sense of intrusion. Through the focal awareness of bodily sensation, individuals are able to access these restorative physiological action patterns. This allows the highly aroused survival energies to be safely and gradually neutralized. Unregulated arousal previously “locked in” the neuromuscular and central nervous systems can be discharged and completed, thus preventing and resolving traumatic symptoms.”