Regulation Theory

  • Human Nature and Early Experience
  • The Polyvagal Theory provides a new perspective to explore how autonomic nervous system function relates to social behavior, emotional regulation, and health. The Polyvagal Theory links the evolution of the autonomic nervous system to affective experience, emotional expression, facial gestures, vocal communication, and contingent social behavior. The theory, by being informed by the phylogeny of the autonomic nervous system, expands our understanding of normal and atypical behavior, mental health (e.g., coping with stress and novelty), and psychiatric disorders (e.g., autism, anxiety disorders, PTSD). The theory emphasizes that the core deficit in behavioral and affective regulation that is associated with several psychiatric disorders, especially disorders diagnosed in children, is related to neural regulation of the autonomic nervous system. By incorporating a developmental perspective, the theory explains how typical and atypical maturation and regulation of autonomic function forms the neural “platform” upon which social behavior and the development of safe trusting relationships are based. The theory explains how the nervous system evaluates risk in the environment, without awareness and often independent of a cognitive narrative, through a process labeled “neuroception.” Neuroception attempts to support adaptive behaviors by matching autonomic state with the neuroceptive state of risk (i.e., safe social environment, danger, and life threat). Abuse and trauma may reset neuroception to protect the individual from others when there is no “real” danger resulting in defensive and often aggressive responses to friends and caregivers...

  • Dysregulation of the Right Brain: a Fundamental Mechanism of Traumatic Attachment and the Psychopathogenesis of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Objective: This review integrates recent advances in attachment theory, affective neuroscience, developmental stress research, and infant psychiatry in order to delineate the developmental precursors of posttraumatic stress disorder. Method: Existing attachment, stress physiology, trauma, and neuroscience literatures were collected using Index Medicus/Medline and Psychological Abstracts. This converging interdisciplinary data was used as a theoretical base for modelling the effects of early relational trauma on the developing central and autonomic nervous system activities that drive attachment functions. Results: Current trends that integrate neuropsychiatry, infant psychiatry, and clinical psychiatry are generating more powerful models of the early genesis of a predisposition to psychiatric disorders, including PTSD. Data are presented which suggest that traumatic attachments, expressed in episodes of hyperarousal and dissociation, are imprinted into the developing limbic and autonomic nervous systems of the early maturing right brain. These enduring structural changes lead to the inefficient stress coping mechanisms that lie at the core of infant, child, and adult posttraumatic stress disorders. Conclusions: Disorganised-disoriented insecure attachment, a pattern common in infants abused in the first 2 years of life, is psychologically manifest as an inability to generate a coherent strategy for coping with relational stress. Early abuse negatively impacts the developmental trajectory of the right brain, dominant for attachment, affect regulation, and stress modulation, thereby setting a template for the coping deficits of both mind and body that characterise PTSD symptomatology. These data suggest that early intervention programs can significantly alter the intergenerational transmission of posttraumatic stress disorders....

  • On Trauma – Allan Schore Group
  • Following a summarizing introduction by Allan Schore Richard Carr presents a case vignette that demonstrates the clinical relevance of a construct that is now central to stress models in biology and neuroscience, allostasis. This concept, the process by which physiological stability is maintained in the face of change, has not yet appeared in the psychoanalytic literature, thus highlighting the import of Carrs contribution. This is followed by an article in which Jane R. Wheatley-Crosbie focuse...

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