Stephen W. Porges, PhD: Q&A About Freezing, Fainting, and the ‘Safe’ Sounds of Music Therapy

Early humans stalked by brutal killers were built with a limited choice: Gird for fight or go to safety – as with “fight-or-flight.” A little further lower the transformative road, we added “tend and befriend” to the danger response repertoire, who have permitted specially the females in our midst to safeguard children and cultivate a social group for mutual defense and support.

Which was that – until Stephen Porges, PhD, the Distinguished College Researcher at Indiana College in Bloomington, introduced another option: freeze or faint.

His broadly-reported polyvagal theory contends that living creatures facing or sensing mortal danger will immobilize, even “play dead,” like a last measure. This tactic occurs instinctively – without conscious thought and also at the behest of the central nervous system rapidly deciding if the atmosphere is harmful or safe. It may be quite confusing to twenty-first century humans who end up triggered into immobility by, for instance, an awful boss, combative spouse, or alcoholic parent, as opposed to a raging tiger. Baffled by feelings of disengagement, dissociation, depression, and numbness, we might identify other causes – and adopt inappropriate solutions.

The only real cure, Dr. Porges states, would be to send signals of soothing safeness that bypass the conscious to achieve probably the most inaccessible area of the brain, reassuring it the atmosphere is, actually, safe. For Porges, the very best vehicle to achieve that destination is music. Music therapy supplies a key that may unlock the numbed, deeply embedded ancient brain, allowing a person to interact and communicate with people, experiencing results that may be breathtaking.

Porges shared his theory, his therapy, and the respect for that body’s longest nerve, with Everyday Health.

Everyday Health: How does one describe your and yourself work?

Stephen Porges: I’m a neuroscientist working in the intersection of behavior neuroscience, clinical issues, and bioengineering. Like a “deconstructor” of complex biobehavioral systems involved with human behavior and health, I attempt to decipher, explain, and disseminate understanding concerning the nervous system’s innate abilities to produce and keep feelings of protection, support, and social connectedness.

I developed the polyvagal theory in 1994 to describe how humans, in seeking safety and survival, monitor and mediate their reactions around the world. To explain the way the central nervous system – and that i concentrate on the vagus nerve – decides if the atmosphere is harmful or safe, I created a novel indisputable fact that I labeled “neuroception.”

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