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In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness
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In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  1,684 ratings  ·  108 reviews
Unraveling Trauma in the Body, Brain and Mind—a Revolution in Treatment

In this culmination of his life’s work, Peter A. Levine draws on his broad experience as a clinician, a student of comparative brain research, a stress scientist and a keen observer of the naturalistic animal world to explain the nature and transformation of trauma in the body, brain and psyche. In an U
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by North Atlantic Books
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Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I bought this thinking it would be something of a self-help book in body based therapy. There is some of that, but mostly it explains the research and theory (with case study examples) of Peter Levine's lifetime of work. He is a brilliant psychotherapist, no doubt. The book itself is heavy on the science, and quite dense. It's not a quick easy read. I felt it was directed more towards psychologists and others in this field.
By halfway through the book I was inspired to find a psychologist who pr
Peter Levine is a wise, kindly, and gentle sage, scholar, and clinician who understands trauma like few other writers. He offers, through the therapeutic method he has created -- Somatic Experiencing -- a most persuasive passage from the ruination of extreme shock to the restoration of vibrancy and presence. His work is gentle, graduated, moderate, quiet, based in our body's wisdom ... Safe.

He begins the first chapter with his own experience of being hit by a car while crossing a street. Later
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Definitely the most comprehensive of Peter Levine's books (Waking the Tiger being the most basic introduction to our instinctual nature and it's role in trauma). Indeed, he starts the Epilogue with: "too much or too little?" - clearly he has more to say on the matter.

That said, I found the first third of the book ('Roots') too much in volume or bland, but I think only because I'd already read Waking the Tiger. I always find clinical case examples helpful, and Levine's story-teller skill is grea
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to be brief when it comes to my experience with this book. I picked it up thinking it didn't really apply to me, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Roughly two and a half years ago I took a medication that gave me extreme depression and anxiety. It was a medication I had taken for 5 years, but when they changed the lab that made the generic pills I took, all hell broke loose. One doesn't generally think of that as trauma but it is. In a nutshell, Levine says that immobilization with ...more
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Peter Levine may just be the greatest thinker in mental health and medicine of our age. This book reveals the process by which Levine made the discoveries about trauma and chronic stress that inspired his approach to healing which he has named "Somatic Experiencing". Levine has PhDs in biology and psychology and has put these to very good use. He was in part inspired by his observations of animals in the wild and how they respond to life threatening adversity. He has incorporated the latest in s ...more
Lubinka Dimitrova
This books is considered something like a bible in psychotherapy research, and it obviously contains a ton of useful information, but for me personally the author's style was not as clear as I could have wished for, and his insistence to re-tell the story of his accident ended up a bit annoying by the n-th time he mentioned it. I gained a lot of knowledge from his insights, but it's a dense book, which a person with no previous mental health training will have difficulty to work through alone. S ...more
Jeff Hrusko
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I don't say this lightly, but this book has changed my life, and I'm truly not a person that 'buys-into" things lightly. Dr. Levine describes the behaviors, adaptations and thoughts of a people detailing with unresolved trauma with uncanny precision and intimacy that it was like seeing oneself in the mirror for the first time.

My only criticism is that there's a lack of criticism concerning the somatic experiencing approach. I would like to see some clinical studies addressing the efficacy of th
Sep 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This is my second DNF book in a row in the Psychology subject realm. This is a new behavior for me as someone who generally slogs through everything I pick up. I think I'm just getting too tired of spending my time with books that cause stress without much reward. I made it about 70% through this before I decided to throw in the towel.

I really enjoyed Waking the Tiger, though I read that many years ago and am now wondering how I would feel about it today having read this book. This book is not
Pam Boling
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have read a lot of books and articles on trauma healing, going back at least fifteen years. Dr. Levine’s In an Unspoken Voice is, by far, the best. While I am writing this review only one day after finishing the book, I feel it’s appropriate to affirm the validity of Dr. Levine’s theory and practice, even though I haven’t yet made any attempt to apply the recommended exercises. I had an epiphany, quite literally, about halfway through, and ended wishing I had read it forty years ago. My life t ...more
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
There is so much useful information in this book, it's hard to decide where to start. In a nutshell, Levine covers the physiology of trauma - the nervous systems involved in why and how it happens, the ways in which the body 'holds' intense emotions - and the steps required to actually "release trauma and restore goodness", as the subtitle puts it. Of prime importance is the vagus nerve, part of the parasympathetic system. Different branches of this nerve are responsible both for relaxation and ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read cover to cover. Absolutely fascinating exploration of instinct, feeling, emotion and the body. Describes how trauma sufferers get 'stuck' and his work helps them reconnect with their body. Connects with work by Gabor Mate and Bessel van der Kolk.

'Trauma sufferers, in their healing journeys, learn to dissolve their rigid defenses. In this surrender they move from frozen fixity to gently thawing and, finally, free flow. In healing the divided self from its habitual mode of dissociation, they
May 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great view of trauma as a disregulation of nervous system function. Levine gives a clear model for understanding the biological basis of trauma being held in the body & a great rationale for using his method to discharge & allow the nervous system to come back into balance. This book, and Somatic Experiencing, have changed the way I see trauma. In working with groups, it has tuned me in to ways people dissociate that I would not have considered before & ways to better work with them. ...more
essential reading for anyone exposed to trauma
is anyone exempted?
Jackson Childs
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is hard to evaluate. At its core it presents a theory of the formation and treatment of traumatic stress. The crux of this theory seems to be the idea that mammals enters a state of "tonic immobility" in life-threatening situations. This immobility has an adaptive purpose but if it is not resolved through the physical discharge of the emotional or physiological energy generated in response to the situation, it creates the long term psychological distress known as PTSD. I'm not going to ...more
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is pretty phenomenal, but I'm not sure if it's necessary after reading Levine's seminal "Waking the Tiger." A LOT of content is redundant, if not copied in its exact form. That said, I really found Waking the Tiger transformative, so it was helpful to hear the messages reinforced! I'm getting the feeling that, with many spiritual books, the point might not be to cover new content, but to remind us of the gems we already know.
Oct 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Insightful guide for therapists working with clients having PTSD.

"Trauma sufferers, in their healing journeys, learn to dissolve their rigid defenses. In this surrender they move from frozen fixity to gently thawing and, finally, free flow. In healing the divided self from its habitual mode of dissociation, they move from fragmentation to wholeness..."
Edward Taylor
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lots of great info presented in a very readable manner. Some parts are repetitive or specifically aimed at the practitioner. You can skim or skip these without losing value. If you have been through tough times, this may help you to understand what happened at the time and how it continues to affect your life.
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dr. Levine offers an interesting perspective and path forward for people suffering from any kind of trauma and for those around them. I'd generally recommend this book for lots of people, even if they don't think it's relevant to them, because understanding trauma on an emotional, psychological, and physical level can help prevent it when it becomes a possibility. However, I'd make that recommendation with an asterisk as I found chapters 10 and 11 to be mostly unsubstantiated hypotheses (especia ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
I've now read a fair amount on what could (would) be categorised as "self-help"; or that which concerns spiritual/psychological development. Nothing I've read so far has had quite such a positive impact on me as this book. If you struggle with PTSD, or any other trauma related mental health condition; if you feel disconnected/disillusioned both physically and psychologically. Read this book.
Tom Weissmuller
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Theorizing what might be on a deer’s mind when a predator attacks and eats the deer ... then extrapolating to reason out how a human responds to and ultimately accepts his or her fate ... nonsense. Sure, there is more to this book; but the author still tries to reason out human behavior based on animal behavior. Today, PhD candidates have better tools to assist them as they research and analyze the human brain. Perhaps this entire field of study is being revisited. I will look for modern studies ...more
Aaron Estel
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A little repetetive, and very heavy on the jargon, but I found it extremely useful both for ideas processing my own traumas, and for an understanding of the ways I am getting in the way of my wife's healing from PTSD.

It's unclear how accurate his theories are, but it's a very gears-level description of how trauma works, and gets stuck sometimes. I highly recommend for anyone with PTSD or an abusive childhood, or who is trying to support such a person.
Andrew Pish
Wow. I can't recommend this book enough.

For anyone who wants
to build a better relationship with their body,
to understand how their body experiences senses, emotions, and thoughts,
to understand how a relationship with your body can be a path through feeling stuck, feeling depressed, and feeling the effects of past trauma

*Also very informative for actors 😛👍
Ameena Higgins
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
this is one of my favorite books of all time! it's so informative, & i'd say essential if you work with traumatized populations (i.e. the whole world, in this day and age) ...more
Lisa Campbell
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was instrumental in making the connection between trauma, animal instincts, and how we can heal and transform trauma in the body and brain.
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
For any clinician doing trauma work (and therefore, for any therapist at all, because – news flash – it’s all about trauma) this is an essential work. Not because it is perfect, but because it is a fair compendium and summary, through Levine (who is certainly at the top of the world’s foremost in trauma treatment) of all the best that we know at this time. As such, it is still a summary, and lacks depth in some areas, such as the actual how of doing the somatic treatment (fair enough). It also – ...more
Heidi Crockett
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found this after loving his "Freedom from Pain" book. (Side comment: another fantastic book that may be better [more practical exercises] than this book for the non-clinician).
The book's theory and techniques can be used immediately to release trauma. One example: I did circular breathing for five minutes [exercise is on the CD that comes with the Freedom from Pain book][It is doing an in-breath following up my chest/front with my mind scanning my body, out-breath tracing down my neck, spinal
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: trauma, psychology
Intricate masterpiece artwork, life-sustaining medical machinery, dependable flights around the earth and into space, and worldwide engineered skyscrapers belie the fact that humans are in fact highly evolved animals whose instincts precede rational thought from the neocortex involved in higher level thinking. The body will always instinctually do what it needs to protect itself. Our vagus nerve collects sensate data from the gut and transmits ten times as much information from the body to the b ...more
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was soooooooooo GOOD!
I Am not exagerating, I have been reading more than a few books on trauma. The classics, Trauma and Aftermath, The body keeps the score, Coping through understanding, ComplexPTSD from surviving to thriving, etc.
They were all incredible, but Idk why it took me so long to read one of Peter Levine s books.
What I really enjoyed about the Unspoken Voice was the incredible understanding, normality, and easeness that Dr. Levine wrote about a most common fact of life, Trauma a
Leander Ruivenkamp
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m always completely awestruck by people who successfully write a long explanation of a subject that had no need for words to exist in the first place. Everything that happens in the body happens regardless of our ability to describe it. So, when the truth is hidden in plain sight, it needs a translator to make it comprehensible for the mind. That’s exactly how I experienced reading this book. Peter Levine, PhD and creator of Somatic Experiencing, does this flawlessly. He not only manages to ta ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At first I thought this book was too in depth for what I was looking for at the time. I picked it up only because Gabor Mate wrote the forward! What I did find was an enlightening read full of good anecdotes and interesting science all packaged into a book that I think all psychologists and heath practitioners should read. It was most likely aimed at heath professionals but easy to understand for someone not in the field. I recommend it if you have ever questioned the autonomic processes of your ...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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There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
17 likes · 3 comments
“Highly traumatized and chronically neglected or abused individuals are dominated by the immobilization/shutdown system. On the other hand, acutely traumatized people (often by a single recent event and without a history of repeated trauma, neglect or abuse) are generally dominated by the sympathetic fight/flight system. They tend to suffer from flashbacks and racing hearts, while the chronically traumatized individuals generally show no change or even a decrease in heart rate. These sufferers tend to be plagued with dissociative symptoms, including frequent spacyness, unreality, depersonalization, and various somatic and health complaints. Somatic symptoms include gastrointestinal problems, migraines, some forms of asthma, persistent pain, chronic fatigue, and general disengagement from life.” 5 likes
“As I feel less overwhelmed, my fear softens and begins to subside. I feel a flicker of hope, then a rolling wave of fiery rage. My body continues to shake and tremble. It is alternately icy cold and feverishly hot. A burning red fury erupts from deep within my belly: How could that stupid kid hit me in a crosswalk? Wasn’t she paying attention? Damn her!

A blast of shrill sirens and flashing red lights block out everything. My belly tightens, and my eyes again reach to find the woman’s kind gaze. We squeeze hands, and the knot in my gut loosens. I hear my shirt ripping. I am startled and again jump to the vantage of an observer hovering above my sprawling body. I watch uniformed strangers methodically attach electrodes to my chest. The Good Samaritan paramedic reports to someone that my pulse was 170. I hear my shirt ripping even more. I see the emergency team slip a collar onto my neck and then cautiously slide me onto a board. While they strap me down, I hear some garbled radio communication. The paramedics are requesting a full trauma team. Alarm jolts me. I ask to be taken to the nearest hospital only a mile away, but they tell me that my injuries may require the major trauma center in La Jolla, some thirty miles farther.

My heart sinks.”
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