This book helped put the pieces of my (developmental) trauma puzzle together, so that I could understand the underlying issues. In essence, my ability to regulate arousal was impaired and without a ‘parent figure’ to co-regulate with, I found it difficult to accommodate stress.

‘Fears’ ruled my life and shame (deep feelings of not being good enough) plunged me into a primitive response system which shut down my cognitive processes. This shame response kept the content of my secrets, from me. An overuse of dorsal physiology could lead me into periods of numbness and lethargy. ‘The possibility of re-enactment’ was high.

The authors suggested one antidote to resolve any long-standing pattern can be ‘to explore sensations from a perspective of curiosity and experimentation’. They confront the reader with pertinent questions. ‘What kind of challenge is most challenging?’ ‘How would you know it, if you felt it?’ ‘How would you know someone wishes you well?’ ‘How would you recognise a difficult experience is in the past?’

When everything is unique and unconnected, a person might have difficulty ‘learning to identify themes’, ‘transfer knowledge from one situation to another similar situation’ or ‘understand how one thing is actually connected to another’. Many operate within a faux window of tolerance – physiological and somatic systems. In other words, until life presents them with overwhelming experiences and untenable stressors, they appear relatively normal.

We learn in this book the higher functions of the brain are not online at the time of traumatic experiences and that ‘fragments of behaviour can integrate through complex psychophysiological mechanisms to result in what appears to be a coherent whole.’ A survival energy management process keeps a person stable and away from distressing memories. Often, any meaning has been reduced to very basic survival needs and without accurate interoception it is difficult to update the somatic narrative. The ability to remember a cohesive or positive narrative is diminished.

We learn that a change to our somatic narrative away from ‘a lens of potential danger’ and building ‘healthier and more accurate interoception’ are important. That working with completions or deactivating the threat physiology and integrating those responses ‘back into normal resting physiology’ is what’s needed.

The authors say a person needs support to separate a (traumatic) experience from feelings of anxiety. To orient for new sensations and experiences they need to refer back to an old trauma map. We all need access to a felt sense of safety and ‘support in order to gain a sense of agency regarding our own regulatory capacity’. Then, our perception that only threat and response to threat merits attention can be replaced with a perception of pleasure.

A big thank you. This book was a brilliant resource and full of quotable quotes. My favourites being, ‘I see you; I hear you; I believe you’ and ‘it is not an exaggeration to say that helping a client recover from developmental trauma is life-changing – not only in this generation, but for future generations as well.’

Subscribe To My Newsletter!