- Series: Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology
- Hardcover: 347 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 25, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393707008
- ISBN-13: 978-0393707007
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) 1st Edition
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“[C]hallenges professionals who interact therapeutically, educationally, clinically or even socially with vulnerable populations to share knowledge and work across our specific disciplines, to prevent, identify and treat mental illness.” (Journal of Unified Psychotherapy and Clinical Science)
“Stephen Porges has been at the forefront of the investigation of the interplay between neurophysiological processes and developmental status.... It is with The Polyvagal Theory that Porges now presents, in a well-delineated and articulated volume, a highly testable set of hypotheses regarding how the human (and more broadly, mammalian) nervous system has evolved to promote affective regulation and social interaction.... I commend Porges on this effort. Substantial research across a significant career has been well considered and integrated into a quite engaging and stimulating model regarding the relationship between the heart and the brain.” (PsycCritiques)
“[O]ne of the most important books written on the nervous system in the last fifty years. Porges’s ambitious, meticulous, synthetic theory provides a missing link between mind and the nervous system. It also helps explain, in fine detail, how our individual nervous systems influence, and are influenced by, our interactions with others. Suddenly we understand things novelists have described for centuries: how it is that a facial expression, a gesture, a certain tone of voice, can trigger a radical mental reorganization, and lead to engagment, and how our mental and nervous system states shift. Porges’s studies and his theory of the social vagus represents a major advance in human knowledge, and is already improving the practice psychotherapy and mind-body medicine.” (Norman Doidge, MD, author, The Brain That Changes Itself)
“A truly revolutionary perspective on human nature, Porges challenges current theory, illuminates old findings so that we see them differently, and raises dozens of questions for new scientific research. The reach is broad, the depth astounding.” (Paul Ekman, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of California at San Francisco, and President & Founder, Paul Ekman Group, LLC)
“The Polyvagal Theory is at the leading edge of psychosomatic medicine and body-mind therapies. It is a vital contribution to scientifically-informed clinical practice. Psychologists, analysts, physicians, bodyworkers, and educators are provided with an essential map to help guide them in tracking the psychophysiological states of their clients, discern where they are ‘stuck,’ and help them to heal and move forward in life. Dr. Porges’s great contribution is now compiled in this one astounding comprehensive volume. It is a must-read for clinicians and psychobiological researchers.” (Peter A. Levine, PhD, author of In Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness)
About the Author
Stephen W. Porges, PhD, teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is author of the 2011 Norton book The Polyvagal Theory.
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Top Customer Reviews
The focal point of Porges' book is that the development of the myelinated vagus, originating in nuclei called the nucleus ambiguus, is crucial to inhibiting the fight/flight/freeze responses in response to environmental stimuli. The assessing of risk in the environment, which he calls neuroception, is regulated unconsciously and the myelinated vagus helps to resist primal behavioral responses. The strength of the myelinated vagus can be measured using respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), which is an indication of beat-to-beat heart rate variability. When RSA is high, vagal "tone" is high, indicating a strong myelinated vagus. When the RSA is lower, it indicates less vagal "tone" and therefore a weaker myelinated vagus. Humans with low vagal tone are less likely to engage in prosocial behavior because they have less ability to prevent themselves from plunging into fight/flight/freeze behavior when posed with environmental challenges. Porges adds a fourth behavioral adaptation which is "social engagement" (to go along with fight, flight, and freeze responses). In mammals, prosocial engagement is facilitated by high vagal influences on the heart which prevent the individual from entering fight/flight mode. As Porges explains, these vagal influences are strong predictors of positive attachment, healthy social behavior, self-regulation, and even attention span.
The implications of this theory are vast, and it opens up a plethora of research topics for the coming generation of psychophysiologists. Hopefully this book can be as enlightening for other readers as it was for me. I just wanted to give a terse overview of the theory, but nothing can replace actually purchasing the book and delving deep into the subject matter. Enjoy.
Therapists and other clinicians working with movement, body-based, and experiential therapies have long understood that chronic human emotional suffering involved some type of chronic shift of the balance of the autonomic nervous system toward the sympathetic. However, using the old two-part oppositional model of the autonomic nervous system (sympathetic versus parasympathetic) was not satisfying. This was in part because some physical manifestations of distress were parasympathetically mediated: asthma, ulcers, enuresis, irritable bowel disease, freezing reactions, etc.. This seemed to overturn the simplistic idea "parasympathetic good, sympathetic bad". But actually the manifestations listed above stem from a 'dorsal vagal' reaction. Now as Porges shows, "ventral vagal good, sympathetic worse, dorsal vagal worst" Now intuition and physiological models are back in line. The intuition of clinicians was always correct, the 'science' had to catch up.
The polyvagal theory is practically begging for implications to be drawn about the practical areas of lifestyle, physical exercises, interpersonal relations, social relations, psychotherapy, childrearing, family life etc... Porges manages to resist the temptation, perhaps because he feels a scientist should not go there. As another reviewer writes he does mention listening therapy, but if I am not mistaken, that was developed by Alfred Tomatis The Conscious Ear: My Life of Transformation Through Listening who Porges does not cite or credit, but that is a quibble.
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