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The Polyvagal Theory
Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation
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"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 "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 "[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 "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 "[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
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Stephen W. Porges, PhD, is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, where he directs the Trauma Research Center within the Kinsey Institute. He holds the position of Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He served as president of both the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences and is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers across several disciplines including anaesthesiology, biomedical engineering, critical care medicine, ergonomics, exercise physiology, gerontology, neurology, neuroscience, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, psychometrics, space medicine, and substance abuse. In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders. In 2018, Dr. Porges received the Pioneer Award from the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy.