Blog Post No.1 – 27th February 2021
Books about Emotional Intelligence and Trauma Recovery
By Dr Jim Byrne
Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2021
Preamble about the Polyvagal Theory
I have now resumed my work on my main Trauma Book – (Transforming Traumatic Dragons: How to recover from a history of trauma – using a whole body-brain-mind approach); and yesterday I wrote the intro to one of my appendices for that book. Here is an extract from that appendix:
“Appendix L: Some insights into the Polyvagal Theory of Dr Stephen Porges
By Jim Byrne, Updated 26th February 2021
In this appendix, I want to introduce a brief set of insights into the Polyvagal theory, which is central to Dr Bessel van der Kolk’s approach to Developmental Trauma Therapy. The Polyvagal theory and Dr Van der Kolk’s approach to trauma have both influenced my own system of Interoceptive Processing of Intense Traumas.
The Polyvagal theory explains the ways in which the vagus nerve participates in the calming of bodily arousal, and also in face to face interpersonal communication as a form of affect (or emotion) regulation.
The bottom line of the Polyvagal system can be summarized like this: The autonomic nervous system has three levels of hierarchy:
– 1. Social engagement and connection, which regulates our levels of arousal to produce a sense of safety and protection. This operates through the ventral vagal complex (VVC), which regulates facial communication and tone of voice, heart rate, breathing, etc., (and which is highly developed in humans).
– 2. Nervous arousal (as in fight or flight), which is a survival-enhancing response to signs of threat or danger. This level is controlled by the limbic system, including the amygdala and hippocampus, and the hormonal system. (This system is found in all mammals, including humans).
– 3. Immobilization, or freeze/faint/closedown. This is also a survival-enhancing response of signs of extreme threat or danger, where the fight or flight response is not able to help. It is controlled by the dorsal vagal complex (DVC) which links to the heart and lungs, and also to the guts), The DVC is rooted in the reptilian brain (or brain stem, in humans).
The signals which trigger us into one or other of the three states described (in para 1, 2 and 3) above are not noticed consciously. Rather, they are sensed through a process which Stephen Porges labelled as ‘neuroception’, which means “detection without awareness”. (See Dana 2018).
Level 1 of this system – (social engagement and connection) – facilitates a process of co-regulation of emotions, whereby, when I encounter you, I help to set the level of arousal of your autonomic nervous system (by seeming to be, or seeming not to be, trustworthy [and encouraging you to feel safe or unsafe with me]). And you regulate the level of my autonomic nervous system by the way your nonverbal signals, of face and voice, strike me: (Do you seem safe and trustworthy, or not?!)
But let us back up a little.
Let us begin with the human brain as a whole, and its many connections to parts of the body. …”
…End of extract.
For more, please click this link: Transforming Traumatic Dragons: How to recover from a history of trauma – using a whole body-brain-mind approach***
A new book on Emotional Intelligence
I had become distracted from working on the trauma book (above) – which I am co-authoring with Renata Taylor-Byrne – because I wanted to begin work on my new book on Emotional Intelligence. Here’s an extract from the Introduction to that new book:
The first and most important aspect of emotional intelligence is self-understanding. To “know thyself” is an important goal; and to examine the kind of life you are leading – and the kind of like you really want – that it just as important.
Let me begin, here in this Introduction, to clarify some of the insights I’ve had over the years about the nature of a human individual, and how we are ‘wired up’.
Firstly, if you want to understand yourself fully, it would help if you knew how stressed your mother was when you were in her womb, because that is where the basic wiring of your brain began to be laid down.
But more importantly than that, it would help if you knew how securely attached your mother had been to her own mother when she was a baby, because she is most likely to have passed on to you the same kind of (secure or insecure) attachment style that she got from her mother.
The first five or six years of your life would have laid down some fundamentals of your personality, including the creation (in your own mind) of a life script, encouraged by your parents, siblings, neighbours, teachers, other relatives, etc. And that life script tells you (from subconscious levels of mind) what is going to happen to someone like you, as you progress through your life. (Don’t worry. You can rewrite this script, and I will show you how in Appendix A of this book).
When you were born, you were essentially a little body, with a set of basic emotions (or ‘affects’), mostly a capacity to perceive and evaluate pleasure and pain; ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sensations. Those innate affects or simple emotions are then socialized into a set of ‘higher cognitive emotions’ by your daily encounters with your mother (or main carer), you father (in most cases), your other relatives, peers (as you begin to move around and begin to go to kindergarten or pre-school, etc.) From the beginning…”
…End of extract.
For more, please click this link: How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence***
So now I have resumed working on the Transforming Dragons book, and hope to have it on sale by Easter.
Watch this space.
That’s all for now.
Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling
Telephone: 44 1422 843 629
 Van der Kolk, B. A. (2015). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. New York: Viking.
 Dana, D. (2018) The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation. London: W. W. Norton & Company