Article: Where Does Somatic Memory in the Body Reside? [Fascia & Fitness]

“Traumatic memories are often experienced as “relived” rather than remembered, which is why people experiencing them react as though they are re-experiencing the situations in which they were traumatized. When a traumatic memory is triggered, the somatosensory experience of the person reliving the memory can be powerful; the whole body “remembers” and replicates the sensations of the trauma, including sympathetic nervous system fight, flight, or freeze responses. The psychophysiological experience is of reliving the trauma, what we call a flashback. In this situation, the client often effectively dissociates from the present reality and is caught in the state of re-living the traumatic memory.

“Whereas memories of ordinary events, even those containing somatosensory and emotional components, do not have the somatosensory texture and depth of flashbacks, making it much easier to remain connected to external stimuli and to experience being present in the moment while simultaneously feeling (remembered) sensations or emotions.”

[The article continues with remarks from Til Luchau, who I desperately want to train with some day. I have to be content with his Advance Trainings fb group for the time being.]

The state-dependant memory model discussed above [not included in this excerpt, read the full article] is more nuanced and sophisticated, and so arguably more useful. It brings to mind a book I’m currently reading: Lisa Feldman Barrett’s How Emotions are Made (2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780544133310). In her “theory of constructed emotions,” Barrett builds on the idea that our brains are structured to predict what we will see, taste, here, and feel. Apparently, there’s good evidence that the brain only processes things it does not predict. In this model, preloaded but widely networked caches of information (concepts) and meaning (valence) are used to minimize the brain’s energy use and maximize processing time.

“Interestingly, she writes that the brain’s wiring causes internal sensation and body signals (interoception and proprioception) to reach the brain’s processing centers before external perceptions (exteroception), such as sight, hearing etc. This sets up the brain to rapidly predict what it’ll perceive exteroceptively, based largely on past bodily experience (as well as language) what’s going to happen outside. In other words, we take in sensory information only until our brains can predict what will happen.
 
“This is the proposed mechanism behind both perceptions and emotion: for example, in this model, we are not reacting to our perceptions with emotions, we are neurologically predicting what will happen, and it is our predictions that shape our perceptions, emotions, and actions.”
 
Read the full article (and Til’s full commentary, plus comments from Walt Fritz) from Fascia & Fitness: Where Does Somatic Memory in the Body Reside?
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