VIDEO: Dr. Peter Levine on Historical Biasis Somatic Experiencing Approach

Watch an excerpt from PsychAlive’s exclusive interview with Dr. Peter Levine.

Dr. Peter Levine talks about the historical basis of the Somatic Experiencing Approach.

Dr. Peter A. Levine: Our model for therapy has come, from Freud on, from the idea of the “talking cure,” that somehow, if we talk about these things, we’ll be freed from them. And that applies to certain things, but it really doesn’t apply to trauma.  But of course, Freud gave up his idea of trauma and then kind of shifted to the idea of inner conflict about the child’s wanting to have sex with their parent of the opposite gender, and so he gave up on the idea of it being caused by real events where the person is overwhelmed.

I can imagine the pressure, you know, the idea of bankers and doctors doing these things with their children. I don’t think people wanted to bring that kind of murk up and so he was under tremendous pressure to go in another direction. Who knows what all the reasons are? In fact, it’s an interesting thing to think about.

So there was either talk or the reliving of the trauma. And there was also — and this kind of came out in some of the World War II therapy, where they would give the “shell shocked” soldiers  pentathol – sodium pentathol, “truth serum.”   And they would get them to abreact their terrors and it seemed to have some benefit for these single event kind of things.

But at the same time, they just wanted to get them back into the battle field.  So they did something that kind of reduced the shock for a while, enough for them to get back. And so I think that this kind of evolved, it culminated in things like primal scream therapy and then implosion therapies, prolonged exposure therapies and so on. And critical incident de-briefing.

About the Author

Peter A. Levine, Ph.D. Peter A. Levine, Ph.D. is the developer of Somatic Experiencing®, a body-awareness approach to healing trauma, and the Director of The Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute. Dr. Levine holds doctorate degrees in both Medical Biophysics and in Psychology. He spent 35 years studying stress and trauma and has contributed to numerous scientific and popular publications. Dr. Levine was a stress consultant for NASA on the development of the space shuttle project, as well as a member of the Institute of World Affairs Task Force of Psychologists for Social Responsibility in developing responses to large-scale disasters and ethno-political warfare. He has authored several books, including international best seller, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma and his most recent book, In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness. In 2010, Dr. Levine received the Life Time Achievement award from the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy (USABP).

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