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The 1 minute book review of the Polyvagal Theory, explaining its neurophysiological foundations and its impact on understanding emotions.

The Polyvagal Theory – by Dr. Stephen Porges

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Do you ever find that your feelings (or occasionally: lack thereof) sometimes can seem mismatched with the observed facts of your situation? This book unravels that mystery—or rather, that stack of mysteries.

Dr. Porges’ work on this topic is, by the way, the culmination of 40 years of research. While he’s not exactly a household name to the layperson, he’s very respected in his field, and this book is his magnum opus.

Here he explains the disparate roles of the two branches of the vagus nerve (hence: polyvagal theory). At least, the two branches that we mammals have; non-mammalian vertebrates have only one. This makes a big difference, because of the cascade of inhibitions that this allows.

The answer to the very general question “What stops you from…?” is usually found somewhere down this line of cascade of inhibitions.

These range from “what stops you from quitting your job/relationship/etc” to “what stops you from freaking out” to “what stops you from relaxing” to “what stops you from reacting quickly” to “what stop you from giving up” to “what stops you from gnawing your arm off” and many many more.

And because sometimes we wish we could do something that we can’t, or wish we wouldn’t do something that we do, understanding this process can be something of a cheat code to life.

A quick note on style: the book is quite dense and can be quite technical, but should be comprehensible to any layperson who is content to take their time, because everything is explained as we go along.

Bottom line: if you’d like to better understand the mysteries of how you feel vs how you actually are, and what that means for what you can or cannot wilfully do, this is a top-tier book

Click here to check out Polyvagal Theory, and take control of your responses!

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