PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) hinges on the interrelation of mind and body.  However, exclusive emphasis on chemistry or psychology misses the point.

The point is the relationship between memory, sensation, and action (or movement).

Every traumatic event triggers some sort of impulse to action (or movement).  If the event is intense enough or repetitive enough, that impulse to action becomes ingrained and habituated (memorized) as a chronic tension pattern, i.e., muscular involvement.

Every muscular tension pattern or action has a corresponding sensation.  The habituated sensations of patterns formed during a traumatic event are the sensations of the event, itself, the sensations of the tension pattern formed in that event.  However, the vary nature of habituation is its unconscious automaticity, so those sensations remain semi-conscious or unconscious impulses that get triggered and activated by similar, even remotely similar, events.

Bodywork, by contacting habituated muscular tension patterns, awakens corresponding habituated (and so, faded or semi-conscious) sensations.  That’s why bodywork triggers memories.  However, it may or may not be sufficient to release the grip of those memories.

Somatic education, by awakening internal awareness of ones habituated states and by awakening from them into new patterns, supports a person’s recovery from and growth past habituated trauma patterns.  This principle and process is the basis of Peter Levine’s work (although his work intervenes at the autonomic level and not the voluntary level).

In my view, both psychological and sensory-motor approaches to memory are needed.

somatic exercise for Startle Reflex

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5 Responses to PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  1. Hi Lawrence, I followed from NICABM Comment Board to your blog. Thanks for your comment. However, the link on your blog post to "somatic exercise for Startle Reflex" landed on a blank page. If there's a way to find that I would appreciate it. I am an art therapist (trained in Santa Fe at Southwestern College back in the 90's). I work with people dealing with Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD and I am always looking for ways to incorporate sensory-motor approaches. I appreciate your comments and your blog. My blog can be found here:

  2. LawrenceGold says:

    Hi, Susan.

    I'm mystified.

    I just clicked on the link in my blog (leading to the YouTube page of my videos) — and went right there!

    On that page, look for "Startle Reflex Somatic Exercise". This exercise is best used by alternating it with the exercise, "Arch & Curl". However, that exercise isn't on YouTube, so another option is "Free Your Psoas – The Center of Breathing":

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. LawrenceGold says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Jhon mac says:

    Thanks for your great and helpful presentation I like your good service.I always appreciate your post. Excellent information on your blog,thank you for taking the time to share with us.
    therapy ptsd

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