Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma” as Want to Read:
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  4,204 ratings  ·  327 reviews
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 hu ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 7th 1997 by North Atlantic Books (first published 1993)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Waking the Tiger, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Jessica Levine defines traumatization as a debilitating state of distress, lasting weeks to years which interferes with normal physical functioning. The evide…moreLevine defines traumatization as a debilitating state of distress, lasting weeks to years which interferes with normal physical functioning. The evidence for his observation that animals do not remain in such states would be in their observable return to normal activities moments after a life threatening event. I suppose his evidence is available to anyone who would like to observe wild animals.

Levine is not suggesting that he knows what is going on in the minds of wild animals. He is saying that it is clearly observable that they return to normal functions and activities within minutes of near death experiences. How they feel once restored to their physical faculties is not being discussed. Trauma is what happens when a person is unable to function due to prolonged mental/emotional anguish. Animals return to functioning and so are natural teachers in how to do that.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,204 ratings  ·  327 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma
Totally idiotic, condescending, and insulting. Levine's central premises - that the body plays an important role in trauma, and that common events such as medical procedures and accidents can have psychological effects similar to those of severe trauma - are both true and important, but he reaches them by denying the lived experiences of trauma survivors at every turn. I finished this book shaking with anger.

Assorted rebuttals and points of disagreement:

- Actually, contrary to what Mr. Levine sa
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Okay, consider my mind blown. And that's not easy to do.

It's especially difficult when starting off with such an unfortunate title (which evokes nothing quite so much as the beleaguered Ralph Macchio's dojo). Add to this the author's trademark of his treatment method - meaning every time he mentions the name it comes up in the text with a registration symbol. (Cue jazz hands and a laser spot.) Top it off with the sad truth that metaphors are not his friends. Be it myth, the environment or the an
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
I have rather mixed feelings about this book. Being an asshole, I'll start with the negative ones.

On the downside, this book is not well written. Sometimes the tone is downright condescending.

Then there's the issue of credibility. The author bases his views on his practice as therapist. He really does that to the max: there are almost no references to psychological science. No footnotes or endnotes. Typically, when another book is quoted, that book is a work of fiction. I take no issue in takin
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: trauma, psychology
I love the hero's tale. A quick glance of my other reviews will confirm as much. But I also believe those wonderful tales perform a valuable purpose. They can provide guidance for difficult transitions through the use of symbols and metaphor. Levine's book was a useful discussion on healing trauma. Don't expect a lot of "inspiring" stories or case examples like psychology books often contain.

Clash of the Titans

Peter Levine made an explicit connection between trauma, and in this case, the tale of the hero Perseus a
Jan 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
“Waking the Tiger” advances Peter Levine’s hopeful theory that trauma has been badly misunderstood and mistreated in Western Culture. He uses numerous examples from the animal kingdom along with case studies of his own patients to argue that people can make a complete and healthy recovery from trauma by somatically renegotiating their traumatic experience. He emphasizes that “somatic experiencing” is not re-enactment—an approach that he is skeptical about, at best. His contention is that the tre ...more
Steve Woods
This is an outstanding piece of work. It was published in 1997 and I added it to my reading list in 2011 and it has sat on my shelf for over two years. Just the luck of the draw I suppose, but in reading it my one disappointment is that I didn't do so years ago. I have struggled my way through the effects of a severely abusive childhood and combat related ptsd derived from service in two wars, and no doubt I have made great progress at relieving some of the more radical symptoms from which I hav ...more
Kate Collins
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you or anyone you care about has suffered a severe shock or been under enormous stress, there are many ways their traumas will come out if not dealt with adequately. This book helped me tremendously after my husband passed away suddenly. I didn't understand that some symptoms appear months after the fact, and doctors didn't know what to do with me other than hand me prescriptions. This book changed my thinking and therefore my approach to dealing with the grief. I highly recommend it.
ben adam
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: trauma-studies
Okay, I am going to be honest because I know a lot of people were stoked on this book, but I really did not enjoy it. I know it was written to be accessible and comprehensible for non-experts, but he cites nothing at all as proof for his central tenets. The basic summary is that trauma is not just a psychological experience resolved by changing thoughts and emotions but a full-body, physiological experience that requires full-body interactions in order to heal. This is the only good part of the ...more
Eddie Black
Jan 09, 2009 is currently reading it
1/2 way through. I am left wondering what exactly this 'energy' is that Levine writes about. If it is indeed some sort of energy, then can we find a scanner to find it? Or is it instead not an increase in any type of energy per se (like there is no more water in a pipe system) but that the body isn't regulating the energy any better (the valves are out of sync). The first is that if it is indeed an increase in some form of energy then we can look for it and find it in scans. If it is not a form ...more
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Almost everyone
Recommended to Cole by: Maeghann Alder
Shelves: non-fiction
I think just about anyone could benefit from reading the first four chapters of this book. This offers a refreshing, biological-based look at trauma and its after-effects, while dispelling many of the myths that surround trauma and PTSD in Western psychology today. This is a book that actually could change certain peoples' lives for the better.
I like that the author writes in simple, layman's language. He tells you what methods of therapy do not work, and why they do not work, and also tells you
Michael Shore
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
I recommend reading “The Body Keeps the Score” instead.
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
Rating: 4.5

Review to come.

This was a very unique healing from trauma book. It takes another look at PTSD and other forms of anxiety/panic disorders, and gives us other tools along with our therapy/medication. I believe this will be great help to me, personally.
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Though I've read several books on trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and methods for processing trauma, I felt this book added some new perspectives while containing enough overlap and grounding with past work to be trustworthy (as opposed to, e.g, the cottage industry of self-help style books on trauma). After some brief background on types and origins of trauma and a helpful illustration of how trauma is processed (and cleared) in animals, the author explains how uncleared trauma is uniqu ...more
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
As with literally any subject involving human emotion, there are very few clear answers and if someone offers a simple solution to any deeply complex emotional problem, the solution is usually only partially helpful under very particular circumstances.

In Waking the Tiger, Levine offers the opinion that all trauma is simply a disruption of a very instinctual process of handling extreme stress. You either fight, run, or freeze and it's the freezing Levine is most focused on. He explains that if y
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The book is written by Peter Levine with Ann Frederick. I find this book fascinating, and it has helped me to see that I have been sometime in my childhood (probably) traumatized because I have these four common symptoms: hyperarousal, constriction, dissociation, and helplessness. I hope to begin therapy soon with someone who has been trained in "Somatic Experiencing," which was devised by Levine. More later, when I finish the book!

I have now (8-11-12) finished the book and have talked with a c
Mar 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book offers remarkable insight into the most important challenge our century faces: trauma. Wedding a naturalistic perspective with an understanding of the neuroscience of trauma reveals a unique approach to the resolution of the sequelae of overwhelming experience. This book has influenced many other theorists and clinicians treating post-trauamtic stress disorder, and yet is perfectly accessible to the layman.
What constitutes trauma? Go ask your nervous system.
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
this book was given to me by my therapist many years ago and helped me greatly in understanding the effects that trauma had on my body that i had been unable to shake off such as hypervigilance. looking at the way animals deal with traumatic experiences such as being pinned down by lions and being able to just walk away and shake it off allowed greater understanding of how we have lsot this ability as humans. good read for anyone with PTSD or unresolved grief
Phil Jensen
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was ok
First of all, check out Rachel's review for a better explanation of the problems with this book:

My personal experience with this book:

I read the intro and prologue first. Here are some red flags:

*Levine says his approach blends science with "oriental" wisdom. I prefer my science to be blended with more science. How do I assess the quality of the science? I check the works cited. This book has none. This is an entire "scientific" book with no works cited s
Ben Rogers
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really good.

Powerful read.

Lance Greenfield
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
There was much in this book that resonated with me. Some of my personal life experiences, good as well as bad, run parallel to the case studies that Levine cites.

He examines trauma in great detail and talks about animal reactions to danger: the commonly discussed fight or flight and the less discussed freeze. You may have seen this in wildlife documentaries or even have witnessed it for yourself. When a prey is chased and caught by a scary predator, it might freeze and ‘play dead’. The predator
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Trauma survivors and helping professionals
A great book, both practical and inspiring, on an underused approach to healing trauma. This has a lot in common with other holistic treatment approaches that address the physiological/neurological along with the mental and emotional parts of a person's makeup. It is strong in both practice, what has worked for this clinician and his clients, and a theory that makes sense of why it works. I recommend this strongly for both trauma survivors with PTSD and clinicians who are working with them.
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I learned some things about trauma that felt validating. But I’m a bit skeptical of the treatment process proposed. Seems a bit wackadoo.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
Eh, it was okay. More interesting to see how Levine's work stands up to the test of time and our history of knowledge of trauma.
Absolutely ahead of its time, considering it was written in 1997. Astonishing.
Levine's entire take on this book is that only humans and domesticated animals suffer from trauma, so how do wild animals respond differently to trauma than we do, and how does that enable them to better survive? He goes on to talk about "undischarged energy" as the root of trauma.
I know that
Kelsey Mech
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A really interesting insight into some of the somatic aspects of trauma. It was a bit basic and dated in parts, but I understand that it is not intended for a therapist audience and rather for people without training in the subject matter. So it is quite accessible, which is great, though I personally would have appreciated a bit more depth and complexity. Overall a really interested introduction to somatic experiencing and how that can be applied to trauma. For those of you with kidlets, the la ...more
Alex Smith
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Super fascinating - the research and ideas proposed in this book are more relevant than ever. In my experience, westernized culture has such a low capacity for genuinely nurturing the whole being through trauma. From low grade stress to catastrophic violence, the auto pilot ignorance that society perpetuates has to be dealt with at the individual level, and then with the support of qualified resources and sympathetic relationships. This book has a few resources, but it paints a picture of how tr ...more
Sandy Plants
Love this book! So insightful; so helpful. Will read again for the rest of my life.

My first therapist was a big believer in Levine’s approach to trauma and it’s a trip to finally read his work 13 years later. I didn’t understand it then; I wasn’t able to process my trauma or feel my feelings back then, BUT I AM NOW!

I remember in my first session with that therapist, she explained this book to me (not as if it was a book, but the theory behind why I was reacting the way I was to a traumatic eve
The Audible narration was terrible, but fortunately I had the kindle option as well. The author brought a lot of knowledge from the Somatic Experiencing perspective. I enjoyed the parallels between the animal experience of trauma and the human animal experience of trauma, or rather, "the organism's" experience. The author's repetitive referring to the experiences of "the organism" was off-putting. I get it, we are all animals.
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This should be taught in elementary schools in biology classes. At least some short version .
Sarede Switzer
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really good and insightful book.
Phi Unit
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I thought this would be a timely read, but just couldn’t find much value from it
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
  • The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation
  • Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving
  • Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror
  • When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress
  • Focusing
  • My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of Our Bodies and Hearts
  • The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe
  • Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy
  • The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment
  • Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN
  • Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing
  • The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You
  • The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self
  • The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
  • Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others
  • Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation
See similar books…
Peter A.Levine, Ph.D. is the originator and developer of Somatic Experiencing® and the Director of The Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute. He holds doctorate degrees in Medical Biophysics and in Psychology. During his thirty five-year study of stress and trauma, Dr. Levine has contributed to a variety of scientific and popular publications.

Dr. Levine was a stress consultant for NASA during the

News & Interviews

In most historical romances, love and marriage go together like...well, a horse and carriage. But what if the girl part of the girl-meets-boy...
18 likes · 11 comments
“Resilient strength is the opposite of helplessness. The tree is made strong and resilient by its grounded root system. These roots take nourishment from the ground and grow strong. Grounding also allows the tree to be resilient so that it can yield to the winds of change and not be uprooted. Springiness is the facility to ground and ‘unground’ in a rhythmical way. This buoyancy is a dynamic form of grounding. Aggressiveness is the biological ability to be vigorous and energetic, especially when using instinct and force. In the immobility (traumatized) state, these assertive energies are inaccessible. The restoration of healthy aggression is an essential part in the recovery from trauma. Empowerment is the acceptance of personal authority. It derives from the capacity to choose the direction and execution of one’s own energies. Mastery is the possession of skillful techniques in dealing successfully with threat. Orientation is the process of ascertaining one’s position relative to both circumstance and environment. In these ways the residue of trauma is renegotiated.” 15 likes
“Every trauma provides an opportunity for authentic transformation. Trauma amplifies and evokes the expansion and contraction of psyche, body, and soul. It is how we respond to a traumatic event that determines whether trauma will be a cruel and punishing Medusa turning us into stone, or whether it will be a spiritual teacher taking us along vast and uncharted pathways. In the Greek myth, blood from Medusa’s slain body was taken in two vials; one vial had the power to kill, while the other had the power to resurrect. If we let it, trauma has the power to rob our lives of vitality and destroy it. However, we can also use it for powerful self-renewal and transformation. Trauma, resolved, is a blessing from a greater power.” 6 likes
More quotes…