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Review of Waking the Tiger, by Peter Levine

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Forest, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have read a lot of posts lately about Somatic Experiencing and the work of Peter Levine. I think his approach is really interesting and something that can really help people recovering from TMS. PPD Psychologist, Bob Evans PhD, actually wrote a review for the wiki about Levine's book Waking the Tiger. It is a greally great review so I wanted to post here as well. You can also find it on the wiki page for the book.

    Dr. Evans spent many years working alongside Dr. Sarno and was actually one of the contributors in Sarno's book, The Divided Mind, where we wrote about several of his cases treating individuals with TMS.

     
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  2. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    This reminds me so much of the situation I encountered at home with my tyrannical, belittling father:

    "He talks about how thwarted 'fight' or 'flight' responses in humans cause the energy to become trapped in the body thus leading to symptoms. If, for example, a child, is yelled at by a parent, the child may be too little to 'fight back' even if the impulse is there. The child may also not 'flee' for fear of getting caught. So the 'energy' from the 'fight' and/or 'flight' response must be thwarted in order to protect the individual from possible retaliation if the child were to hit back or run."

    I see now how for many years when I sat next to my dad in the living room while he raged at me and told me I was stupid and worthless (like my mother!), I was doing everything in my power to suppress my natural flight/flight instincts. Instead I lapsed into what Levine would call the "freeze" response to trauma and became withdrawn and stoic as if suffering was my birthright. I can still remember how I would flee to different areas of the house trying to avoid a confrontation with my late dad. And then he would follow me up into my room, even if I closed and locked the door, until he had told me one of his "Great Truths" that always boiled down to the fact that I was worthless and stupid. This was also the situation if I took a trip in the car with him into San Francisco where he would invariably rage at me all day as I was riding shotgun next to him. I can see that these situations caused me to repress so much anger in my unconscious that it turned into unacted rage. The only way out was to be perfect and good so that I could earn love and respect from my dad; in other words, I became a chronic over-achiever in an effort to gain approval and respect. This kind of family situation, as Schubiner observes in Unlearning Your Pain, is the classic breeding ground for TMS later in life.
     
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  3. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    *hug* That sounds terrible. And I totally get the over-achieving to gain acceptance, it's one of my issues too.
     
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  4. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think one important point that Dr. Sarno makes in his VHS/DVD lecture series "Healing Back Pain" is that the emotional and psychological problems that lead to TMS are characteristic of our whole civilization, with it's narcissistic emphasis on the self-made man who loves to stand apart and shout, "I did it myself. I didn't need anyone!" Sarno's point is that what drives someone to make that assertion is an underlying inferiority complex that gets passed on generation-to-generation. Much akin to what Levine has to say about traumatic re-enactment within individual lives, across generations, and even between countries (the French and the Germans for example!) Ironic if Western civilization, for all its materialistic achievements, is actually built on an inferiority complex passed on from one generation to the next, father to son? That's what Aristotle would have called a 'Tragic Flaw' at the heart of the character of our civilization.
     
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  5. HilaryN

    HilaryN New Member

    One thing I think is really important about this is that "trauma" with a small 't' also causes TMS.

    People sometimes belittle their childhood experiences because they compare it to major abuse and think that what they went through isn't significant because it's not as severe as major abuse. This can also lead to people rejecting the TMS diagnosis because they don't consider themselves to have been abused as children.

    But I believe that little children don't have the capacity to compare their experiences or rationalise them. They don't say to themselves, "I shouldn't get upset over mummy shouting at me for being 'naughty', because there are children in a much worse situation than me who are being sexually or physically abused. My situation is minor compared to theirs, so it's really not reasonable to be distressed."

    I think little children just max out on their distress irrespective of how "serious" their situation is compared to that of others.
     
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  6. HilaryN

    HilaryN New Member

    I believe that to be the case.
     
  7. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    So did Freud, HillaryN! But if you go way back you'll notice that Sophocles also examined the theme in Oedipus Rex over two thousand years ago. The sphinx, half women and half beast (sort of like the neocortex and the reptilian brain?) asks Oedipus on the road to Thebes to answer a riddle: "Who crawls on all fours at sunrise, walks on two feet at noon, and limps along on three legs at sunset?" The answer of course is simple: Man! But Oedipus because he doesn't yet have tragic self-knowledge continues on into Thebes, kills his dad, marries his mother, and as a result of that incestuous union produces a murderous daughter, Electra. The rest of the story gets worse, like in most Greek tragedies, but the point is that because Oedipus doesn't really know himself, he goes on to commit unspeakable taboo acts. No wonder Freud insisted that the Oedipal complex was the myth that underpinned Western civilization. At least, studying your TMS can lead to the kind of self-knowledge that eluded Oedipus (and for that matter, Hitler, Mussolini, LBJ and Nixon!) What's that Levine says about traumatic reenactments that go on from generation to generation?
     

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