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

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  1,279 ratings  ·  82 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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4.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,279 ratings  ·  82 reviews

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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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..."
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
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
Abdulrhman Alhalabi
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل بيشل
رح ينفجر دماغي
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)
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.
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
Christine Westwood
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Peter Levine is the best clinician working with trauma you will find anywhere. I read his previous work ‘Waking the Tiger’ where he explains his theory that humans can learn from animals natural
capacity to release and heal from even extreme trauma incidents. This book extends that knowledge and gives a fascinating context into brain research, plus powerful, simple techniques to support people in freeing themselves from trapped, debilitating trauma held in the body. What I especially like and rec
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
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the second book that I've read recently that has reminded me of my old 8th grade science teacher. Cheesy dad jokes for days. But, scientific dad jokes. Don't get me wrong, I love it. This made the book even more approachable. And, really, I found it just generally approachable. The 3 stars just boils down to my personal experience of the book. It wasn't material that I am in a position to readily use and incorporate yet, so I was only moderately engaged with the text. For those in a posi ...more
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Extremely dense book, and you have to realllly concentrate. Not a book written for a lay audience, i'd say and "upper level" lay audience. Therapists, social workers, those in helping professions will find the most use of this. I personally don't get a lot out of anecdotes, but most people find them helpful.
There are a number of patients stories in this book.

that said, it is a very important contribution to the body of work on PTSD and C-PTSD and any sort of trauma
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! Very good and very useful for understanding how the body works through trauma. Invaluable experiences and insights shared. I don't think this Author can write a bad book. I highly recommend this one for anyone suffering from any type of trauma, big or small. It is like a guide to releasing and letting go in unexpected and "unconventional" ways that really work.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal. Ground-breaking read. This not only explains so many so-called psychological disorders but chronic diseases as well. This is the gateway to the future of medicine and a great bridge between Eastern and Western philosophies. If you are not a clinician, it will help you better understand your relationship with yourself and with others. Must read!
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Levine is a leader in the trauma field, and his latest book clearly explains how trauma affects the mind and body. Just as important, he shows, step by step, how even seemingly intractable trauma can be healed. His warmth and kindness, and his gift at illustrating concepts by sharing his own personal trauma and those of his clients, make this book a compelling read.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've really had good luck lately with finding books about trauma that not only illuminated things I've been wondering for a while, but set me down a path to figuring out why talk therapy has been only minimally helpful for trauma. Not up for going into a ton of detail at the moment, but this is definitely a book I'd recommend if you have the physical symptoms that often accompany complex-PTSD.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Filled with great information and insight

This book not only helps one understand the complex relationship we all have with our bodies but also how to manage this system when overwhelmed. It opens up the spectrum of what trauma really is and how it impacts our physical and emotional realities.
Brad Golphenee
Sandpoint idaho.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: therapy
Best book I've read on trauma. Peter Levine is the genius of the moment around embodied botoom-up views of trauma and I thoroughly enjoyed each of the angles from which he explores and shares over 40 years of clinical experience.
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
useful to me, probably useful to others who want to understand trauma from a biophysical perspective and improve your body awareness, might have found it more frustrating if i had read it when i was less emotionally prepared to work on healing and thinking about trauma processing
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For all who have suffered of PTSD or who work with those suffering of PTSD, Levine is a Godsend. I love him; he has helped me immensely, and I have read widely in the area for over 25 years. He is brilliant. One of the best (along with Bessel VanderKolk!)
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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
“The door suddenly jerks open. A wide-eyed teenager bursts out. She stares at me in dazed horror. In a strange way, I both know and don’t know what has just happened. As the fragments begin to converge, they convey a horrible reality: I must have been hit by this car as I entered the crosswalk. In confused disbelief, I sink back into a hazy twilight. I find that I am unable to think clearly or to will myself awake from this nightmare.

A man rushes to my side and drops to his knees. He announces himself as an off-duty paramedic. When I try to see where the voice is coming from, he sternly orders, “Don’t move your head.” The contradiction between his sharp command and what my body naturally wants—to turn toward his voice—frightens and stuns me into a sort of paralysis. My awareness strangely splits, and I experience an uncanny “dislocation.” It’s as if I’m floating above my body, looking down on the unfolding scene.

I am snapped back when he roughly grabs my wrist and takes my pulse. He then shifts his position, directly above me. Awkwardly, he grasps my head with both of his hands, trapping it and keeping it from moving. His abrupt actions and the stinging ring of his command panic me; they immobilize me further. Dread seeps into my dazed, foggy consciousness: Maybe I have a broken neck, I think. I have a compelling impulse to find someone else to focus on. Simply, I need to have someone’s comforting gaze, a lifeline to hold onto. But I’m too terrified to move and feel helplessly frozen.”
“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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