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Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve: Self-Help Exercises for Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and Autism Paperback – Illustrated, December 5, 2017
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This practical guide to understanding the cranial nerves as the key to our psychological and physical well-being builds on Stephen Porges’s Polyvagal Theory—one of the most important recent developments in human neurobiology. Drawing on more than thirty years of experience as a craniosacral therapist and Rolfer, Stanley Rosenberg explores the crucial role that the vagus nerve plays in determining our psychological and emotional states and explains that a myriad of common psychological and physical symptoms—from anxiety and depression to migraines and back pain—indicates a lack of proper functioning in the vagus nerve.
Through a series of easy self-help exercises, the book illustrates the simple ways we can regulate the vagus nerve in order to initiate deep relaxation, improve sleep, and recover from injury and trauma. Additionally, by exploring the link between a well-regulated vagus nerve and social functioning, Rosenberg’s findings and methods offer new hope that by improving social behavior it is possible to alleviate some of the symptoms at the core of many cases of autism spectrum disorders. Useful for psychotherapists, doctors, bodyworkers, and caregivers, as well as anyone who experiences the symptoms of chronic stress and depression, this book shows how we can optimize autonomic functioning in ourselves and others, and bring the body into the state of safety that activates its innate capacity to heal.
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“Stanley Rosenberg has put his encyclopedic clinical knowledge to work through the lens of the Polyvagal Theory, illuminating the path away from the underlying cause of so much of today’s disease: anxiety. A tour de force.”—Tom Myers, author of Anatomy Trains
“Stanley Rosenberg is one of the world’s most skilled and creative hands-on therapists. His diagnostic and treatment techniques have immediate application for everyone. Read and enjoy this book, and apply the techniques in your life or in your practice.”—James L. Oschman, PhD, author of Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis
“An excellent and most valuable resource, written by one of the true masters in the field.”— Dr. Robert Schleip, director of the Fascia Research Group
About the Author
Rolfer since 1983 and a practicing craniosacral therapist since 1987, he
studied biomechanical craniosacral therapy for many years under Alain
Gehin, trained in craniosacral therapy at the Upledger Institute and in
biodynamic craniosacral courses with Giorgia Milne, studied applications
for treating children with Benjamin Shield, and took courses in
osteopathy with Jean-Pierre Barral.
For many years he led a school in Denmark, teaching structural
integration, myofascial release, release of scar tissue, biomechanical
craniosacral therapy, visceral massage, and biotensegrity. He is the
author of four books, published in Denmark: Nevermore Pain in the
Back, Nevermore Stiff Neck, Pain Relief with Osteomassage, and Hwa
Yu Tai Chi. In addition to his work as a body therapist, he has worked
in theater— training actors in yoga, acrobatics, and voice—at various
institutions, including Yale University, Brandeis University, Swarthmore
College, and the National Theatre Schools of Denmark and Iceland.
More information about the techniques presented in this book can be
found on his website: www.stanleyrosenberg.com.
- Publisher : North Atlantic Books; Illustrated edition (December 5, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 296 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1623170249
- ISBN-13 : 978-1623170240
- Item Weight : 15.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.71 x 8.98 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #6,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on June 5, 2022
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I came across this book title while searching for info on Dr. Porges and the Polyvagal Theory. I am a doctor of physical therapy and own a physical therapy practice called Muscle IQ. I have been in practice for over twenty years and use manual therapy techniques during every patient visit. So, I was able to quickly implement his recommended techniques. The Basic Exercise is one he thought up one night before addressing a group that was not licensed to touch clients. It is similar to the muscle energy technique I use for relocating the Atlas, so he does have good insight regarding manual therapy.
The author Mr. Rosenberg is a highly skilled and experienced massage therapist that started a "school" to teach other massage therapists in Denmark some osteopathic techniques. I did love his focus on using manual therapy to make changes in a person’s physiological state as using an anatomical perspective is obviously a perfect match for me as a manual therapist.
In the book he introduced me to the potential of the esophagus tightening up being a cause of the sensation of tightening in the chest that we might call anxiety. Using the technique he described in the book for this condition helped a patient of mine with COPD reduce some of his symptoms. But it was not a cure like the case he mentions in the book.
I have been trying his method to turn the Vagus Nerve on with most all of my patients (and with my son). After following his precise instructions to perform the Basic Exercise (over the last 4 weeks) I have to say that I am disappointed in the results. I have not seen a big change in the uvula lift in most all of my patients (maybe I didn’t get them to yawn enough times).
I am skeptical regarding the validity Mr. Rosenberg's assumptions. In physical therapy school we learned that some tests are what my professor called subjectively objective. This means that even though the test seems to qualify as objective, there is a good probability of the introduction of experimenter bias.
I have to admit that this is one of the difficulties inherent to manual therapy. Especially in craniosacral therapy where ESP (yes, extra-sensory perception) is professed to be the way many practitioners determine whether a patient has positive results. So, I applaud Mr. Rosenberg’s attempt to use different measurements of palpating asymmetry, observation of the uvula lift, and palpation of tension in soft tissues. But again, experimenter bias is easily introduced in these subjectively objective measures.
What’s more, how do we know that being able to lift the uvula demonstrates validity (of being in a social engagement state)? Validity in data collection means that your findings truly represent the phenomenon you are claiming to measure.
Validity in what the author suggests in the book would be the following: If an individual passes the uvula test, then he/she should not have any of the chronic problems the author lists (e.g., my son’s autism is therefore cured) because the ventral vagus is active.
Furthermore, how do we know what Stanley Rosenberg means when he repeatedly states that the client improved after performing the Basic Exercise? He does not quantify the improvement beyond his observation of change. Can the vagus nerve test be quantified? Can the uvula lift be graded like other muscle tests: 0 to 5 out of 5)?
Another issue that should be addressed is yawning (one of the steps in the Basic Exercise that is repeated). Yawning causes the uvula to lift and retract until it almost disappears. So, is that just a warm up exercise that makes it easier to perform the uvula lift during the retest?
He also claims to be able to tell whether someone has low or high heart rate variability by palpating a pulse while observing breathing and breath out. This may be true (or not) but how does he quantify the change. He has a training school so why has he not employed proper equipment to do data collection and publish it.
I am on a quest to find help for my son with autism. The book title includes the word “Autism” but then he transitions to telling about a case study of an autistic client who received more than what is offered in the book. He has an example on YouTube of a student of his (in his two year program) who used craniosacral therapy (taught in the book) on his autistic brother. In a video on YouTube the bother states (contrary to what is in the book) that the main benefits and the cure came after multiple treatments by Mr. Rosenberg.
So, there may be a conflict of interest with his claims of cures.
I am highly skeptical regarding the validity Mr. Rosenberg's assumptions. It is well know that there are experimenter biases in regards to comparing the before and after measurements with observation and palpation. Because of this practitioners and massage therapists are convinced that they always get positive results.
I have found that it is common for manual therapy gurus who teach their methods to over-state the effects of their techniques. "All will be cured with my technique in one visit." It is sometimes called "cherry picking" as one guru recommended that we charge a lot for two or three visits with the marketing ploy that the novel method we were using was better than any other.
My conclusion is that much more is needed (than what the author describes in this book, specifically the Basic Exercise) to "pump up" vagal tone. And, the autism spectrum is more complicated than just poor blood flow to the brain stem. I have found other methods that are helping to down regulate my sons "mobilize with fear" state. I think a combination of a variety of stimuli for the vagus nerve (Rezzimax tuning device for example provided greater observable changes in uvula lift), self-talk therapy (especially with guided imagery), manual therapy in the cranial field, diet changes (keto is helpful, search "keto Dr. Berg" in YouTube or avoiding toxic food and MSG, search Katherine Reid unblindmymind.com), yoga breathing (specifically Breathwalk--which is synchronizing steps with segmented breaths of 4 sniffs and 4 puffs), kundalini breath of fire, therapist or parent using a prosodic voice, creating safe environments, EFT meridian tapping, and smile rehab exercises. In other words, more work than most people will be willing to do on their own (especially those who are trapped in a defense states of fear).
I hope this review helps those who are also on a similar quest to help those we love to live a happy, peaceful, untroubled life.
However, the design of the book is not great. All illustrations are in the back of the book in an appendix which makes viewing them as you read about them a cumbersome process. Why not just insert them in near the descriptive text?? Also, and this is a big problem for anyone who does not have knowledge of anatomy (and frustrating for me, who does) - the descriptions of many anatomical structures mention that they are specific colors in the illustrations, HOWEVER, the illustrations are black and white! What the heck?! One last thing- the copy I received is in very large print, like for a visually impaired person, though I did not request this. No big deal, just strange. Otherwise, highly recommended.
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I'm an autistic adult who is a parent to a wonderful autistic child and this book is downright insulting and completely out of date. The quote "people on the autism spectrum are a challenge in many ways to parents, teachers and other caregivers" was especially cruel.
Heaven forbid thinking about what autistic people go through themselves, let's worry about everyone else. You would never find this sort of talk around any other disability, let alone talk on how to make them appear and act "more normal" to make things easier for everyone else in their lives.
This sort of talk is hurtful, hateful and perpertuates the stigma and down right lies around autism.
I'm so disappointed in this book and so fed up of reading total nonsense about autism.
The book gives us a thorough understanding the role of our high mammalian autonomic nervous system and why our bodies crave real physical social interaction. The biggest irony of our modern information world is that the so called social media in fact deprives people from actively engaging with others face to face and therefore it reduces the ventral nerve activation. It's a form self-induced autism.
In conclusion, my take from the book is that we have evolved to survive in groups and for that reason no man is an island!