Stephen W. Porges, PhD, is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, where he directs the Trauma Research Center within the Kinsey Institute. He holds the position of Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He served as president of both the Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences and is a former recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Development Award. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers across several disciplines including anaesthesiology, biomedical engineering, critical care medicine, ergonomics, exercise physiology, gerontology, neurology, neuroscience, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, psychometrics, space medicine, and substance abuse. In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders.
The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory is a landmark work, a lucid scientific explanation of how nurture is the very foundation of our nature. Porges explains how safety and reciprocity are biologically encoded, defining the quality of our lives. Basic safety is essential not only for having satisfying relationships, but also for optimally activating the higher brain structures responsible for creativity and generativity. By the defining the core features of "safety" as consisting of internal visceral sensitivities that define how we deal with threat and approach our surroundings, Porges invites us to revise our focus on safety from fences, metal detectors, and surveillance monitoring, to using the fundamental wiring of our brains, including our voices and our faces, to organize our lives, our families and our institutions. This book shows how most psychiatric problems are expressed in failures of attunement and reciprocity, and, by explaining the biological foundations of reciprocity, provides a guide to innovative methods to gain a sense of safety, mutuality and belonging. --Bessel van der Kolk, MD, Medical Director Trauma Center at JRI, Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, author of NYT bestseller The Body Keeps the Score