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Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  3,227 ratings  ·  242 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)
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4.12  · 
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 ·  3,227 ratings  ·  242 reviews


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Rachel
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
...more
Antigone
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
...more
Kerry
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology, trauma
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
...more
Polaris
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
...more
Nathaniel
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
Cole
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
...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.
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
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.
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
Michael
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
...more
James
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
...more
Brandt
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.
James
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.
Narda Martine
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
Sam
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
...more
Kelsey
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
Ryn
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.
Bethany
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.
Zeljko
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This should be taught in elementary schools in biology classes. At least some short version .
Nina
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an essential book for everyone interested in healing trauma.
David
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: therapy, survival, trauma
I have been looking for a book like this for a while. Most of us have become estranged from a very powerful part of ourselves. Although not all of this material was new to me, I really liked the way it was organized and presented here.

Why do some people survive seemingly extreme traumatic experiences relatively unscathed while others emerge with deep psychological scars? Furthermore, why do some people experience more routine and seemingly benign events as traumatic and debilitating? Is it possi
...more
Shannon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erin Drake
Mar 21, 2010 rated it it was ok


Peter Levine has worked with traumatized people for over 25 years as a counselor and mentor as well as earned doctorates in Psychology and Medical and Biological Physics. His interests and education are evident in his straightforward work Waking the Tiger in which he weaves complex biological concepts into practical explanations of how trauma is experienced in the body.
In his book, author Peter Levine argues that not only can psychic trauma be healed, human beings possess the instinctual capac
...more
A. B. Neilly
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essay, psychology
We tend to identify trauma with terrible events like accidents or war, but there is no much information about the real effects of a trauma.
This book is based on an energetic vision of trauma. It is based on the reactions of animals in the wild, and the complex relation between our reptile, mammal and rational brain, each one reacting in different ways to the effects of a traumatic event.
The premise is the trauma is created by the energy that, in the wild, is released by animals after the event i
...more
Shaunaly Higgins
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A profound book that is at the forefront of psychological understanding especially with relevance of the neo cortex, limbic & reptilian centers of the brain in relation to traumatic therapeutic releasing and healing. The reader is taken on a guided tour of the subtle yet powerful impulses that govern our response(s) of overwhelming life events and how the healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening. Trauma to or within the human psyche is stored deeply within the webbing of our ...more
Mohammed Abutaleb
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great book, offers a refreshing holistic perspective in the understanding and healing of trauma.

The book suggests that trauma is a trapped energy in the body, that has immobilized the body due to a freeze response to a perceived threat ( rather than a fight or flight mobilized response). This freeze is presumed to remain debilitating the full expression of life and vitality in the organism ( body and mind), until the mobilization process is restored in the organisms nervous system, by moving out
...more
Josie
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Where is Van der Kolk's "The Body Keeps the Score" is highly scientific and evidence-based, this book is practical and pragmatic. The emphasis in this book is on Somatic Experiencing, not EMDR, but these two authors are in constant dialogue with each other on best practices for healing trauma.

This book provided concrete ways to identify markers of trauma in my students and clients and practical tips to bring them back into their bodies and into the room when they are experiencing hyper-vigilance
...more
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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
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“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.” 12 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.” 5 likes
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