17 Mar 2011

Some books with a shaking theme

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I read Peter Levine’s new book, In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, over christmas – it is excellent.

He has a very nice, and new, framing of emotion as a blocked or incomplete response. If we follow William James’s model of emotion: we see the bear and start running and then we get get scared (most people would suggest it is the other way around – we run because we think are scared). Levine says that actually whilst we are running we are neutral or even joyful as our physiology is successfully expressing itself and performing an act – the emotion of fear comes when we cannot escape or cannot complete the act. Interesting. He is very keen on acknowledging incomplete actions. He also discusses shaking a lot, particularly at the start of the book – but does not take the shaking to its logical conclusion as David Berceli does.

I read another great book, called The Shaking Woman by Siri Hustvedt

It is very smart, an exploration of her trying to make sense of the involuntary shaking she started to experience after her father’s death. She does a great review of mindbody neurology and current thinking on conversion symptoms and hysteria (historical ways of explaining involuntary actions like shaking). However part of me wanted to scream at her: stop trying to stop the shaking and let it happen. Mostly she ends up stopping the shaking with medication (beta blockers) when she wants to speak in public.

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