Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma - The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma - The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences


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Nature's Lessons in Healing Trauma...

Waking the Tiger offers a new and hopeful vision of trauma. It views the human animal as a unique being, endowed with an instinctual capacity. It asks and answers an intriguing question: why are animals in the wild, though threatened routinely, rarely traumatized? By understanding the dynamics that make wild animals virtually immune to traumatic symptoms, the mystery of human trauma is revealed.

Waking the Tiger normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them. People are often traumatized by seemingly ordinary experiences. The reader is taken on a guided tour of the subtle, yet powerful impulses that govern our responses to overwhelming life events. To do this, it employs a series of exercises that help us focus on bodily sensations. Through heightened awareness of these sensations trauma can be healed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556432330
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication date: 07/28/1997
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 25,335
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.83(d)

About the Author

Peter Levine, Ph.D. is the originator and developer of Somatic Experiencing® and the Director of the Foundation for Human Enrichment. He holds doctorate degrees in both Medical Biophysics and Psychology. During his thirty year study of stress and trauma, Dr. Levine has contributed to a variety of scientific, medical, and popular publications. His book, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma is in its fifth printing and receiving wide international attention. Peter was a consultant for NASA during the development of the Space Shuttle, and has taught at hospitals and pain clinics in both Europe and the U.S., as well as at the Hopi Guidance Center in Arizona. He lives near Lyons, Colorado, on the banks of the St. Vrain River.

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 3: Wounds That Can Heal

When a young tree is injured it grows around that injury. As the tree continues to develop, the wound becomes relatively small in proportion to the size of the tree. Gnarly burls and misshapen limbs speak of injuries and obstacles encountered through time and overcome. The way a tree grows around its past contributes to its exquisite individuality, character, and beauty. I certainly don’t advocate traumatization to build character, but since trauma is almost a given at some point in our lives, the image of the tree can be a valuable mirror.

Although human beings have been experiencing trauma for thousands of years, it is only in the last ten years that it has begun to receive widespread professional and public attention...

Table of Contents

Giving the Body Its Due
Finding a Method • Body and Mind • The Body As Healer • How To Use This
Section I: The Body As Healer
1. Shadows from a Forgotten Past
Nature’s Plan • Why Look to the Wild? • Trauma is Physiological • It’s About Energy
2. The Mystery of Trauma
What is Trauma? • Chowchilla, California • Waking the Tiger: A First Glimmering
3. Wounds That Can Heal
Trauma Is Not a Disease But a Dis-Ease
4. A Strange New Land
Trauma is Not a Life Sentence • The Strange New Land • Trauma! • What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us • A Traumatized Person’s Reality • Get On with Your Life • Who Is Traumatized? • Causes of Trauma
5. Healing and Community
Shamanic Approaches to Healing • Somatic Experiencing® • Acknowledging the Need to Heal • Let Us Begin—Calling the Spirit Back to the Body
6. In Trauma’s Reflection
Medusa • The Felt Sense • Let the Body Speak Its Mind • Using The Felt Sense to Listen to the Organism • How the Organism Communicates • Sensation and the Felt Sense • Rhythm: All God’s Children Got It
7. The Animal Experience
The Animals Do It Too • When the Reptilian Brain Speaks, Listen! • One with Nature • Attunement • The Orienting Response • Flee, Fight...or Freeze • The Return to Normal Activity • Animals as Teachers
8. How Biology Becomes Pathology: Freezing
The Stage is Set • Blame It on the Neo-cortex • Fear and Immobility • “As They Go In, So They Come Out” • Like Death Itself • It’s a Cumulative Effect • How Biology Becomes Pathology
9. How Pathology Becomes Biology: Thawing
Nancy Re-examined: A First Step • It’s All Energy • Marius: A Next Step • Renegotiation • Somatic Experiencing—Gradated Renegotiation • Elements of Renegotiation
Section II: Symptoms of Trauma
10. The Core of the Traumatic Reaction
Arousal—What Goes Up Must Come Down • Trauma is Trauma, No Matter What Caused It/ Exercises • The Core of the Traumatic Reaction • Hyperarousal • Constriction • Dissociation/ Exercises • Helplessness • And Then There Was Trauma
11. Symptoms of Trauma
Symptoms of Trauma • And Around and Around We Go • Out of the Loop
12. A Traumatized Person’s Reality
The Threat That Can’t Be Found • Mrs. Thayer • Can’t Synthesize New Information/Can’t Learn • Chronic Helplessness • Traumatic Coupling • Traumatic Anxiety • Psychosomatic Symptoms • Denial • Gladys • What Trauma Survivors Expect • The Last Turn
Section III: Transformation and Renegotiation
13. Blueprint for Repetition
Re-enactment • July 5th, 6:30 in the Morning • The Vital Role of Awareness • Jack • Patterns of Shock • Without Awareness We Have No Choice • Re-enactment Versus Renegotiation • In the Theater of the body • Post Script: How Far in Time and Space?
14. Transformation
Two Faces of Trauma • Heaven, Hell and Healing: A Middle Ground • Let it Flow—Renegotiation • Margaret • What Really Happened? • Renegotiation and Re-enactment • What is Memory? • Brain and Memory • But It Seems So Real! • But I’m Proud to Be a Survivor • The Courage to Feel • Desire and Healing • With a Little Help from Our Friends
15. The Eleventh Hour: Transforming Societal Trauma
The Animal Approach to Aggression • Human Aggression • Why Do Humans Kill, Maim and Torture One Another? • Circle of Trauma, Circle of Grace, Transforming Cultural Trauma • Epilogue or Epitaph? • Nature Is No Fool
Section IV: First Aid for Trauma
16. Administering (Emotional) First Aid After an Accident
Following an Automobile Accident • Scenario of Healing
17. First Aid for Children
Delayed Traumatic Reactions • First Aid for Accidents and Falls • Resolving a Traumatic Reaction • How Can I Tell If My Child Has Been Traumatized? • Sammy—A Case History • Traumatic Play, Re-enactment, and Renegotiation • Key Principles for Renegotiating Trauma with Children
Epilogue: Three Brains, One Mind

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Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma - The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about a new type of 'therapy' unlike traditional talk therapies that has the potential to completely transform one's life. It not only gives a wonderful synopsis of how our brains work, from the animal brain to the human brain, but it shows beautifully how the natural pathway to resolving stress and trauma is short circuited in coordinating these two brains. The outcome is post traumatic stress in many areas of life that most of us are unaware that we have. This book explains how this therapy works and why. Since reading this book, along with a book about EMDR (self titled), I experienced this therapy and have found relief in areas of stress that have haunted me for decades. More importantly, my adopted daughter, now 13 years old and born drug exposed with multiple emotional problems, is finding herself now able to move forward in her ability to think, handle problems she encounters, and deal with everyday issues that were difficult with a new found peace that none of us knew was even possible for her. I recommend this book to everyone, not just those who have experienced trauma, because we all interpret trauma differently and what is minor for one person may make a major difference for another. If someone who has experienced PTSD from rape or war can benefit from this book, there are multiple examples of these in the book, imagine how this might work for more ordinary trauma that takes place for all of us constantly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a psychiatrist and author of ¿Lost in the Mirror: an Inside Look at Borderline Personality Disorder,¿ I have dealt with many kinds of trauma and am always interested in new approaches to this difficult area. I found ¿Waking the Tiger¿ an engrossing approach to the problem of how trauma creates damaging and often enduring symptoms. Dr. Levine¿s concept of the ¿freeze response¿ in the face of overwhelming threat provides a missing link to symptoms such as dissociation that our old ideas of ¿fight or flight¿ fail to explain. Even more important to trauma survivors and their therapists is the redeeming message that immobilization in the face of threat is an automatic biological response that is not voluntarily chosen by the victim. This was vividly portrayed in an episode of the TV series ¿Cagney and Lacey¿ in which Cagney, a tough and well-trained police officer, becomes the victim of a rape and later struggles with the helplessness she experienced while it was occurring. The January 2003 issue of Clinical Psychiatry News reported that an overwhelming majority of victims of sexual assault describe a moderate or high level of paralysis occurring during the assault, consistent with Dr. Levine¿s observations. The ¿freeze response¿ is also addressed in an article on fear in the March 2003 issue of Discover magazine. Dr. Levine also provides an astute portrayal of the nature of memory by acknowledging that memories are not literal recordings of events but a complex of images that are influenced by arousal, emotional context, and prior experience. Like a painting, memories may even transform over time as new experiences add layers of meaning to the images. While remembering the past can be an important aspect of therapy, appreciating the subjective quality of memories is crucial to integrating them appropriately into the healing process.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A practical guide to understanding how trauma reactions occur on a physiological as well as psychological level and how human beings tend to get 'stuck' in them. This book not only offers extremely simple yet profound insights into the dynamic of trauma, but also provides practical methods for dealing with trauma through the physical release of trapped energy. I would highly recommed this book to anyone, whether you feel that you have suffered trauma or not. Even if you haven't, chances are you know someone who has. This book also offers a deeper understanding of this issue to the loved ones of trauma survivors. I thought that the remnants of trauma would control my life forever...thanks to this book, I now know that I can break free. GREAT BOOK!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrific layman's book to understand the workings of trauma in the human body and brain.
suesbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I probably would have gotten more out of this book if I had read it more like a textbook. I thought his ideas were interesting and glad they work for some people. I felt he claimed they more have worked for more people than I felt was true. In some ways, he's idealistic, and I like that, but doubt his suggestions will be instituted.
Jozzer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Waking the Tiger is Peter Levine's book on healing traumas. Although I am not a psychologist or therapist, its powerful and natural method is intensely appealing. Everybody in his or her life is bound to obtain traumas. This need not be due to serious accidents or maltreatment, even supposedly harmless events suffice to shock our system. Not only people are subject to trauma, the animal world is full of it.And it is this world Levine put his attention to. He observed the ways in which an animal 'shakes off' the intense energies after the traumatising event subsided. A human on the other hand has a tendency to thwart these instinctive reaction. Our reasoning neo-cortex comes in the way. As a result the intense energies have no way to discharge and the body has to find other ways to stay in balance. Symptoms arise that can seriously and structurally impede a person's healthy and joyful experience of life. Levine's method to heal does not involve longterm therapy in which the traumatising event is relived again and again. It involves sensing your body and tracking the trauma energies. Once these are discovered you are encouraged to make the instinctive and natural body movements needed to discharge the energies. Levine's method is as simple as it is effective because it knows how to harness our instinctive and natural capacity to heal.
Katherine33 More than 1 year ago
Concise overview of the theory behind somatization therapy (working with the body to overcome or live with trauma). Recommend following this book with Healing Trauma, also by Peter Levine, that gives exercises for healing trauma.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An incredibly clear explanation of what trauma is, how it affects people and what can be done about it. Highly recommended for anyone dealing with the effects of trauma or if someone you know is.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
'Waking the Tiger-Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences' is interesting and offers real stories about people. After reading this book I felt it was written for people with 'dark secrets' like rape, abuse, or a terrible accident, but not for athletic injuries. It was excellent but not really benefical for me. It could be for you!