How your health is driven by hidden survival insticts (theory behind new RPT)

Newton develops theory of gravityMany people accuse healers of pseudo-science, New Age hocus pocus or magical thinking.  And most of the time they are dead right.  So, what can we do to set ourselves apart? How can I make it clear that we are firmly grounded in reality? The answer is to build our healing work on a solid scientific foundation.

I can go further to say that the theory should do more than just “sound” scientific.  it has to make sense.  Every New Age course claims to be “backed by quantum physics.”  A pity that real quantum physicists don’t recognize any of it (good article here from NYT).

No, I think “based on science” has to mean a lot more than that.  It has to mean that I can explain HOW and WHY my method works.

Today I’d like to share at least some of those principles.

If you are reading this out of sequence, this is part 3 in the series of how to create an instant healing technique.  You can catch the prior article here.

Triune Brain model

The triune brain model has been part of RPT for 2 years already, so I won’t summarize it here.  I’ve written about it here  and created an animated video explanation here.

If you have no idea about the Triune Brain model, you really should read those summaries before continuing.  If you know a lot about the Triune Brain model, you probably know that it isn’t true.  It’s just a model.  RPT isn’t based on this model (it doesn’t depend on it), but the model is extremely useful because it helps me to explain survival instincts.

Survival instincts

The new RPT is based on the principles of survival instincts.

Before I continue, I need you to do a brief exercise.  Trust me, it will help to understand this discussion.

Close your eyes (after reading the instructions!) and visualize that you are walking through the jungle on your own.  Suddenly you hear the roar of a tiger.  You realize that you are being hunted.  Though you cannot see the tiger, he can probably see you.  Try to visualize and feel into this experience.  Then put a hand on your gut.  Ask yourself, what is my “gut instinct” response?/em>

If you said “freeze” or “hide” you are in the majority.  Other common responses are “fight” or run away (often called the “fight or flight” response).

Despite our large and powerful human brains, we are all largely driven by instincts.  This is what we take from the triune brain model.  Neuroscience shows (e.g. through functional MRI scans) that we make decisions, be they what to buy, who to date, what I do and don’t like, based on instincts.  The funny thing is that we think we are being rational, but the fMRI shows that the instinctual part of the brain (called the Reptilian Brain in the triune brain mode) kicks in first.  The reasoning mind (the neo-cortex) kicks in to make up an explanation only after the decision has been made.

As an example, neuro-marketing is the “science” of making people buy things by bypassing their rational minds and appealing to their instincts.  For more information see here, here and here.

So in very short, survival instincts are our response to trauma.  The four main ones are: freeze, hide, fight or flight (run away).

How knowing your instincts can clear trauma

Here’s a basic summary of how I think it works:

  • You experience some trauma (e.g. physical abuse, a car accident, or emotional pain);
  • your body responds to this by going into one of your instinctive responses;
  • the threat goes away (you survive);
  • on some level you are stuck in the instinct, meaning a part of you is still trying to freeze, hide, run or fight;
  • it is this “stuck” instinct that creates what we call trauma.  If you weren’t stuck in it, the experience would quickly pass, you wouldn’t think about it again, it would not be a trauma.

For a year or so I was figuring this out for myself, and taught the rough basics of it in Moscow in May 2011.  That’s what I was really fortunate to discover that this is not new.  In fact the relationship between instincts and trauma is well established in psychology and forms the basis for several healing techniques already.

For those interested in learning more, the two best books on this subject are:

  • Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences by Peter A. Levine /li>
  • The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease by Robert C. Scaer

If you want, you can purchase either of these great books through my Amazon affiliate links here.  They are worth reading if you want to further explore the relationship between instincts and trauma and how clearing the instinct clears the trauma.
Applying this theory

As I said, the underlying theory is well established.  There are already healing techniques that are based on Scaer and Levine’s work.  These include conversational (counseling); physical (body work) or energetic (EFT/TFT) techniques.

The problem is that these techniques are painfully slow.  They require multiple sessions and don’t provide instant results.

What we did different was to marry two different elements together:

  • the survival instinct theory; and
  • our old RPT techniques of “acknowledgment” and “coherence.”

Followers of my blog will know that I started writing about acknowledgment in 2009.  I believe that the only reason that any healing techniques work (when they sometimes do) is because they acknowledge the underlying causes of our problem.  Being acknowledged is a basic human need, and most of our symptoms relate to an unconscious desire for acknowledgment.  (This is especially obvious with children and animals.)

Coherence is something I wrote about a great deal in 2010.  In short, we have many centers of awareness.  Usually they are not connected, meaning we can think X, feel Y and have an instinct to do Z.  EG: “I think I should marry Tom, I love Richard but I would be safest with Harry.”  But when your minds are in coherence, there is just one voice, and a clear answer to your questions and decisions.

Putting it all together

The new RPT 2012 technique is in fact quite simple.  This is it:

  • find the instinct that is holding the trauma in place;
  • be coherent – bring your head, heart and gut into alignment;
  • acknowledge it from that place of coherence.

When you acknowledge an instinct in this way, it “resets” itself.  For instance if you are stuck in fight or flight mode and you acknowledge it coherently, it instantly switches off.

Symptoms that were caused by this instinct (physical, emotional or spiritual) will then disappear, often instantly.

Well my dear friends, that is the basic outline of our new technique.  We’ve taken 3 vital components, the spiritual (coherence), the mental (survival theory) and the practical (acknowledgment).  Combining these three has given us the most powerful yet simple technique we have come across.

Want to know more?  I hope so.  I’ll be sharing more on this blog over the coming weeks and months as we move towards the official launch of the new website and books.

Almost all RPT teachers have now upgraded to the new training.  Courses in the new RPT are listed on our website here, and the chances are there’s one near you.  We are also looking for promoters for our new work.  Promoters get to do the course for free and are paid a percentage of the course fee.  If you are interested in promoting the new RPT in your area, please contact us here.

I look forward to reading your comments or questions here.



February 9, 2012 in RPT theory and teachings
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

32 Responses

  1. Sounds very good! I am always for simplicity.

    I have some questions, I tried this and got relief, but some is still left. Probably I am not doing it right. :)

    “find the instinct that is holding the trauma in place;

    - so i just find which instinct, fight flee, hide or freeze that is holding it? It is almost always one of these?
    It looks like the timing of the trauma is then not necessary to find. Great :)

    “be coherent – bring your head, heart and gut into alignment;

    Can you explain this part a little more? Do I have the same intention in head heart and gut for it to work, or what do you mean by this part.

    “acknowledge it from that place of coherence.”

    OK looks ok.


    Simon Rose Reply:

    Hi Geir! Welcome back and congrats on being the first to comment.

    OK I’ll do my best to answer you, but I warn in advance that you might not get satisfaction. There has to be an element of “it’s on the course.” I’m sorry but that’s just how it is, at least till the book or DVD comes out.

    > I tried this and got relief, but some is still left. Probably I am not doing it right

    Some relief is good. Great even. In fairness, you aren’t meant to try things based on reading just 5% of it on a blog. Perhaps I need to add a “don’t do this at home kids” disclaimer? :) Good on you for trying, and don’t worry it’s quite safe as long as you aren’t trying to re-live old trauma (don’t do that).

    So when I teach a Level 1 course, it still takes me the full 2 days. I start with a bit of theory (what’s on this page expanded to an hour or so), then some basic exercises, some more theory, some more exercises, some long demonstrations, then by the end of the first day the students start some simple healings. Lots of demonstrating and practice on day 2 and by nightfall they’ve all got it.

    It would be lovely if I could take that entire learning process and compress it into a short blog piece, but I’m not that good!

    > It looks like the timing of the trauma is then not necessary to find. Great :)

    Correct – that was one of the big changes in dropping the “ancestral digging” method

    > “be coherent – bring your head, heart and gut into alignment;
    > Can you explain this part a little more?

    A major part of each RPT course is the gaining of coherence. Merely saying “I acknowledge” without being coherent is fairly useless. On the other hand if you are coherent, the acknowledgment is sort of automatic (redundant).

    > Do I have the same intention in head heart and gut for it to work, or what do you mean by this part.

    basically yes, that’s pretty good.

    Hope this answers at least some of your questions. Thanks for understanding that whilst I want to explain the technique here, I cannot put step by step instructions here. (This was explained in quite a bit of detail in the very last article prior to this one).

    Warmest regards


  2. Hi Simon,

    sounds logical and easy – I like both. ;-)

    “I’m sorry but that’s just how it is, at least till the book or DVD comes out.”

    Do you have any idea when the book and / or DVD are coming out?
    I can’t wait. ;-)



    Simon Rose Reply:

    hi Michaela
    Thanks for asking. I do see the book coming out this year.

    The DVD raises a number of difficult issues around how well and how safely the work can be taught in that format. I want to be able to help people that can never physically attend a course, but not quite sure how to make it work yet.



  3. OK.. I guess I understand that.

    However as you realize I have already gone to the level 1 course, in fact up to lvl 3.

    They were great,, but I wondered, and I understand you are busy, but for us past students who might not have time (or geographic proximity) for an updater course… how could you or another teacher can do a students only video, audio, teaching class or pdf, with an explanation of the differences between the old and the new tech?

    I think it is not too much to ask actually :)

    Thanks no matter what, look forward to learning it whether i need to go to melbourne or oslo or simply here online…


    Simon Rose Reply:

    hi Geir, it’s certainly not too much to ask. But I know the courses you have done and that was reflected in my answer (meaning it doesn’t change the answer). The only thing that really matters is that the students get the best learning experience.

    I have done free updates for students on our Forum, there were times when that was safe and appropriate. Right now we feel that a refresher of the Level 1 with a teacher is by far the best way. The Level 2 and 3 are more “incremental” updates which I could do online.

    Of course this might change, it’s just that right now it’s the best way we can help people with the new work.

    A great way to get updated is to contact your teacher and see if you can volunteer as an assistant on the next course.

    Warmest regards


    Geir Reply:

    Haha, ok.

    Well I am going ahead and doing it whether i have been taught it or not ;) , what works for me seems to be to focus in when something that upsets me energetically / emotionally happens, put a hand on the place i feel ‘stuck’ energy and feel what instinct is there. Then I just acknowledge that and it more or less clears.

    Well we’ll see if the tech works doing it on other people too eh :)


    Simon Rose Reply:

    Well Geir that is a good approach and I’d like to hear how you go with it it. I’m always a fan of experimentation.

    That idea is certainly a lot simpler than my method which relates a great deal to secondary gain – i.e. how does the symptom, feeling or instinct benefit me /keep me safe.

    My experience has been that the secondary gain (hidden benefit) aspect is what makes the healing permanent.

    Do let us all know how your research goes.

    Warm regards

    (PS I edited your signature which contained your personal contact details, do feel free to place these in the RPTforum if you are looking for people to practice with.)

  4. Hi Simon,
    I would like to comment on RPT since I am three weeks out from the new level 1. The thought that I keep asking myself is, “Can it really be this easy”. Is it really this easy to guide someone who has had an issue for almost forty years and in thirty minutes, maybe five minutes of actual treatment their issue is gone?

    Is it really this easy to sit with someone and just talk with them without tapping, uncomfortable poses or repeating a cue word, and their issues clear? Is it possible I myself am experiencing the “Apex” problem by witnessing people’s issues change so quickly? Can it really be this easy even though I am still taking baby steps in learning the process? It appears so far the answer is yes.

    Simon, I appreciate the fact that you freely share your insights, comments and advice freely. Other therapies I have studied require that you pay a monthly or yearly membership fee after the class to be able to post comments, ask questions and get updates. Thank you for not going down that bumpy road.



    Simon Rose Reply:

    Hi Jim, great to hear from you. I’m so glad you liked the new work. You did mention on the blog you were about the take the course so I was looking forward to hearing about it.

    Warm regards


  5. Love it.
    It’s funny – this is the article that I’ve been trying to write for about 2 months. I’ve half written something similar-ish (an attempt to explain the science behind the method) but got bogged down in the science. You kept it simple and accessible whilst clearly explaining the why and the how. Nice work!


    Simon Rose Reply:

    Funny thing is that I also had it open on my PC for 2 months. Or more. Can’t believe how long it took till Evette said words to the effect of “@#(*$ post it tonight or you’re not coming to bed…” :-)

    I think that’s why it wasn’t too complex – it was bed time.




    Nicholas Hall Reply:

    Yes yes yes – to paraphrase Sally Albright.

    Wonderfully succinct and I had not quite managed to describe it so simply and have spent hours editing my own explanation. Kudos!

    It really does work and I was there in Moscow to see “the basics” being taught and being put into action. When you see it being done by students who have just 2 days’ knowledge and experience of RPT and getting results: you know it’s therapy that really works.

    It is that easy.


  6. Shirley Le Cheminant

    A beautiful simple explanation of the new technique. As you say in the title “health can be driven by hidden survival instincts” and also a way of feeling can also be driven by hidden survival instincts, feeling fear, insecurity and many more. In answer to Jim, yes it can really be that simple. Students who have attending my level one course, commented the same but through practice and doing swaps have realised “yes it is really that simply to let go of something that you have been holding onto that long or having many sessions of other therapy for a long time”. It does also depend on a student taking full responsibility for their life and healing and also finding any unconcious gains but that is also taught on the course.
    The old way of thinking for so many people is that if we have an issue or problem we just have to put up with it and continue to feel that way. RPT gives an opportunity to realise another way of thinking – “we do not have to just put up with something” – as the technique gives us an opportunity to release and change that way of feeling.


  7. I gained a habit that nearly everyday I am looking at your blog for a new article :) and here it is.. I have a question.. what are you doing if someone doesn’t feel the emotions by imagining but in real situation he feels many of them.. how can we overcome this non-feeling position in the session? Is this also related to a trauma/instinct? Thanks.


    Simon Rose Reply:

    Hi Bulent, great to hear from you. Do you know how to access RSS so you don’t need to check the blog every day?

    I have never had a client with the exact problem you describe (where they can feel it normally but not during session). But I have had clients blocked from their feelings in general and I think the same comments apply.

    Basically, regardless of what they come to work on during the session (physical/emotional/spiritual problem), you put that aside and what you do work on is the non-feeling issue. That is the priority and you explain to the client that till they are connected to their feelings, you can’t do anything else.

    Then I would deal with it using the usual RPT protocol. For example start with secondary gain. What is the benefit of not feeling your feelings during the session? Answer of course is that it keeps the client safe by protecting them from exploring their trauma. So they are using disconnectedness as a boundary. So this needs to be cleared (using RPT acknowledgments).

    Does that make sense?



    Bulent Reply:

    Hi Simon, ah yes I know RSS but i had totally forgotten it :) I will use it from now on.

    Yes, it makes sense thank you very much. And do we need to feel the emotions exactly the same intensity like in a real situation or a little bit is enough for transforming the instinct/trauma cycle about that problem?


    Simon Rose Reply:

    I would think that a bit is enough because it will never really be the same intensity as physically being there.

    Jim Reply:

    Hi Bulent,

    From my experience usually the mind perceives a imagined threat as the real deal. If I have someone who cannot feel their emotions by tuning in to their problem it helps to add the five senses into their imagination. Have them notice the sounds, sights, smells in the memory will often get them to feel their emotions. I did have one person who just had resistance to working on the problem which hindered treatment.



    Bulent Reply:

    Hi Jim,

    Thank you very much for your answer. I tried it but he didn’t focus the imagination and his senses. His mind is very active so I think I will try Simon’s secondary gain model.


  8. Hi All

    I’m a bit concerned about paying big money for an update course. At full price I did Theta courses, then the brand new RPT courses, then updated RPT. I know this is for me or I would not be drawn to it, but I am a full time student now, don’t have all the money I had before. I’m not scared of a tight budget but hundreds of dollars for more courses is hard for me now.

    I’m keenly interested in the DVD option.

    In responses, if everyone can not dismissively get on their high horse about doing a prosperity healing, that would be great. I’m healing all my many things as fast as practicable. Also, I’m not saying I’m representative, but that is certainly not true for me about only valuing things that cost a fortune, so please don’t trot that one out either. I’m just putting forward that some people might really benefit from their update in a DVD if possible.



    Simon Rose Reply:

    hi Shellie I quite agree with you. Just to be clear, we would never make the new RPT upgrade expensive to old RPT students. Even re-doing the entire course only costs 50%. I realize that’s not cheap, but since I’m not the one teaching Level 1 and 2 any more, I can’t really ask another teacher to do it for less than that (which is basically their cost).

    I think a DVD/web-based upgrade is a good idea too, but it will take time (perhaps a year) to get it done because it’s extremely time intensive.

    Warm regards


  9. Hey Simon, I sincerely applaud you in making a living out of RPT for your student teachers.

    I just wondering then if this is the last upgrade? Or how many more courses will practitioners have to take until they have your complete method?


    Simon Rose Reply:

    Hi Geir
    Thanks for visiting the blog.
    I must admit that I am confused – bamboozled even – by your question.

    > I just wondering then if this is the last upgrade?
    > Or how many more courses will practitioners have to take until they have your complete method?

    If you will forgiving me reading between the lines or at least guessing at your hidden question, I think what you are asking me is “how can I keep up to date?” The answer is fairly simple:
    (a) keep practicing what you know;
    (b) read this blog;
    (c) visit the practitioner forum ( from time to time and ask questions/chat;
    (d) if there’s a relatively minor upgrade we sell the manuals at cost of printing (about $10) and put instruction videos on the forum. We do this about once a year.
    (e) if there is a major upgrade, contact your closest RPT teacher about assisting on their next course. As a Level 3 graduate you are always wanted as an assistant. Level 1&2 graduates may be asked to pay a discounted repeat price.

    I hope that answers your real question.

    I will respectfully try to answer your exact question but just pardon my bewilderment.

    > I just wondering then if this is the last upgrade?

    Of course not. I know you cannot be serious. RPT is in a constant process of evolution. The last update will come on the day I die. I’m pretty sure you know that already (hence the bewilderment).

    Many years ago (I was teaching TH at the time), I said to my students “5 years from now I will turn around and say “forget everything I taught you” because the technology that will come is so amazing, it is beyond what I can imagine today.”

    Five years came and I was proven to be 100% correct. And when I went back to my old students and said “forget everything I said, I have something a million times better,” you know what, many of them resented me. I even receive hate mail. Why? Well perhaps for rendering what they learned, and paid for, obsolete. But what to do? My promise to you is to keep learning, evolving and sharing with you.

    > Or how many more courses will practitioners have to take until they have your complete method?

    Another strange question. I don’t hold back on my courses. I don’t play that evil game of just “teasing” the students with a level 1, but telling them they have to do level 2 before it really works or to get the good stuff. My level 1 is complete and always updated. Level 2 is a different technique, independent of level 1, and kept up to date. You don’t have to do level 2, but if you do it adds a vital aspect to the healing model. But level 1 is “complete.” Not perfect yet, but internally complete, especially if you follow my regular updates.

    Hope I have answered your questions – both the real (hidden subtext) and the formal ones.

    By the way, sorry to sound pedantic, but I didn’t even understand your complement at the beginning. Perhaps we are having translation / language barriers today (quick, is Mercury in retrograde!!?).
    > I sincerely applaud you in making a living out of RPT for your student teachers.

    I don’t know if anyone makes a living out of RPT (not full time anyway), but if they do, it is their work that should be applauded not mine. Also I don’t have student teachers, I have students and teachers. Again, sorry to be a pedant, but I am very precise in my language as I try to minimize misunderstandings.

    Thanks for taking the time to visit and contribute to this blog.

    Best wishes


    Geir Reply:

    > (quick, is Mercury in retrograde!!?).


    > Of course not. I know you cannot be serious.

    No, you are correct. I just wanted to see some more light shined on the evolution of RPT, and am happy to hear i ‘bamboozled’ you a little….

    I am also happy that you are replying with care, because it might just be my limited perception of how things should be (free! yay! lunch for everyone) .. and the fact of how reality works. ( no such thing?)

    I think the work you are doing is extremely good and important, I just asked because it scares me if people have to continue paying for updates in time , energy and money for ever…. is it maybe better to find your own method ?

    Anyway I have magnificent results mixing what I gleaned from your new process with the fight-flight-etc instincts associated with different ‘stuff’.
    Very magnificent, if that expression is possible to use.

    I wish to join up in kazakhstan or moscow if i have time this year, we will see where the mind flows…


  10. Hi Simon,
    I am reading the Level 1 Manual after completing the course with Peter in Stockholm last weekend (wonderful and transforming – thank you!).
    I just want to share my reflection I have when reading about instincts: I would like the “tend and befriend” to be more than just a possible insitct. In my studies in ethology and evolution I learnt that humans are so called “continously nursing” mammals, as opposed to for example a rabbit that is an “intermittent nursing” mammal. For a very young child, or other specie of a continously nursing specie – the separation from the mother – ie not having skin contact, nor the possibility to nurse – is a threat to survival, in a fairly short term. As we are programmed to have very close contact the first 6 months-year , any prolonged separation between mother and child can be a trauma. Which make me wish we got rid of own beds, prams etc…
    I am so grateful to have gotten into this world of RPT and tap into all your knowledge and experience! It fits so well to my lineof thinking of the world!


    Ben Ralston Reply:

    Completely agree with Louise – Tend and Befriend is a powerful and ancient survival instinct. I’ve written about this before here I think, and since come across it – not a great deal, but still… – in clients.
    I have also seen that lack of breastfeeding / separation from Mother / not enough skin contact / etc is a HUGE trauma in many of us – and in my experience one of the most fundamental causes of low self-esteem (child forms subconscious belief that because she is not given proper attention, she must be unworthy of it).


    Simon Rose Reply:

    Louise, welcome to the RPT fold!

    I agree that t&b is an important instinct for humans. However I think (and feel) that you are quoting quite out of context and that t&b would be inappropriate in this context. There are other places in the manual where “positive instincts” are mentioned, for instance manifesting. That’s a better place for t&b.

    I am assuming that Ben is not clear about the context you are referring to because as I said there are places (like manifesting) where t&b is appropriate.

    I know from your reference to the tentative list exactly what page of the manual you mean, it’s a question of what instincts do and do not lock trauma in place. It relates to the Scaer/Levine work on survival instincts and how an animal uses them to escape trauma but can end up “stuck” in an instinct.

    This last time this same question came up on this blog and teacher forum / conference calls, I posed a simple challenge. If you can answer me I’ll rewrite the manual and give you a prize (free healing session maybe) as well.

    Question: name a hypothetical trauma in which t&b is the “survival instinct” that saves your life, but gets “stuck.”

    It’s very easy to see how fight/flight/hide/freeze/vomit can save you from a threat, and can also get stuck. But tell me a situation where t&b saves you from a threat and gets stuck. I don’t believe either are probably (one in a million but not likely). I don’t think t&b saves you from any ordinary threat and I don’t think it gets stuck in the Scaer/Levine sense (because it is not “negative.” So what if an adult is locked in t&b, they are probably a great healer/carer. It doesn’t necessarily cause trauma.)

    I think in all the healings I’ve ever done using RPT I have maybe once (in Moscow) come across t&b being relevant. I can’t remember the details though it’ll be on a video somewhere if a teacher wants to remind me. Anyway the point was, it really wasn’t enough to convince anyone that it should make the short list of instincts, though it did make the tentative list (so that students are at least aware of it).

    What that means is that core 4 instincts (plus 1-2 vague extras like vomit) cover 99.9% of the trauma we deal with. That’s the beauty of the technique, instead of say 1 million negative beliefs, you have FOUR instincts. KISS: Keep it Simple S~~~

    Please consider the meaning and context of “survival instinct” and then tell me again if you think it should be on the list (with a suitable hypothetical I can put in the manual).

    Thanks for your input


    Ben Ralston Reply:

    I am clear on the context. I simply disagree…
    Example of T + B trauma:
    (I’ll give 2 – one more ancestral, one more suitable to today)
    - When humans lived in tribes, villages, packs, etc. if a person for some reason found themselves alone, survival was very unlikely (wild animals, food scarcity, shelter, etc).
    Being accepted by another tribe was not easy (yet essential). In such a situation very likely that the person would feel extremely vulnerable (trauma), and react with T + B. I’ve thought a lot about this.
    Modern application: a chlild growing up in very abusive situation (could be family, could be wider community like a cult – and again, I’ve had clients with this example).
    In order to *survive* the person reacts with the instinct to T + B – do whatever is required to placate the abusers.
    In both examples (ancestral and modern) there is immediate threat, and an immediate reaction (to placate). Reaction can get stuck, and I’ve seen it in people many times.

    I know it’s not a common instinct by the way – agreed that the 3 F’s are 99% of survival instincts. And glad that’s the case – for the sake of the KISS principle.
    But feel that T + B should nevertheless be recognized as a survival instinct that can get stuck.

  11. Hi Ben

    Thanks for all the thought that you put into this. You know I respect you. Please allow me to respectfully disagree – if only so we can flesh this out to make RPT as effective as possible.

    The problem with this – the reason why I’m unconvinced – is simply that it’s quite outside the Scaer model/concept of trauma. What you have characterized as “trauma” is something like “being vulnerable/alone.” In that case t&b would help. But that’s not our definition of trauma or instinct.

    In the model that RPT is based on, we would say that both this “trauma” (alone/vulnerable) and “instinct” (t&b) are in the heart, not the gut.

    How do you tell the difference? The body mind is totally in the NOW. There is no forward planning, no concept of investing in the future. No “if I tend and befriend today, tomorrow they will protect me.” That’s just not a body/animal energy.

    Putting it in yogic language for you, fight/flight/freeze etc. are states of BEINGNESS. They are in the NOW. But tend and befriend is a DOING. Even the words “being tending and befriending” stretch logic … because it’s not something you ARE, it’s something you DO, over time (years usually).

    Back to our Scaer-inspired model. The trauma that the body mind responds to is an immediate threat to survival. Faced with starvation (which is an immediate threat), the body can freeze or fight. Those are the only immediate responses that might help (I don’t see run, hide or vomit doing much good).

    Fighting might work – you kill or be killed. But freeze is a clever one – preserve energy till circumstances change. How might they change? You might meet a new tribe to tend and befriend. T&b might get you fed, but it was freezing that saved your arse in the now.

    So I would strongly argue that hidden underneath that example you gave is a freeze instinct. I would bet money on it because really the whole Scaer model depends on it.

    Please prove me wrong – we can chuck out RPT 5.0 and make RPT 6.0 based on a different model! :-)

    Have a great weekend!


    Ben Ralston Reply:

    Great to be having this conversation – respectfully – in order to advance our understanding of the mechanism of trauma and healing. I think it’s what blogs are for…

    I am going to try to prove you wrong (as invited), and if in the process you prove me wrong, so much the better. Let’s see what happens :)

    I have to disagree about the survival instincts as ‘being’ states. In a way they are, yes. But they are also ways in which our body reacts – a doing. You don’t Be Freezing. You (do) freeze. You don’t be flight and fight – you (do) run or fight.
    But I also agree that they are states of being as well. (Am frozen). I guess it’s complicated? Mind you, ‘Am Frozen’ is after the event – the moment of freezing is a doing.

    Similarly, tend + befriend is a state of being in which an immediate reaction occurs (a doing). In fact, I realize now that T + B is really an umbrella term for a series of instincts – surrender, become passive, do nothing, give up. So perhaps that’s where we fail to agree – because T + B (in your eyes, I think) is a very narrow ‘instinct’, but actually I see it in a wider, more general way.

    Simon, do you feel that ‘surrender’ is a survival instinct?
    If so, would you classify it as a variation of ‘freeze’?
    In a way I would, but in a way it is the opposite of freeze, because to me freeze is a contraction or a shutting down, whereas surrender is almost a total opening up and allowing.

    And I must say, I come across the surrender instinct a lot in clients…

    Which raises another question in me. I find that sometimes these instincts happen on a very physical level (i.e. freeze = physical tension and contraction), sometimes on a more ‘feeling’ level (freeze = numbness), and sometimes on a more ‘energetic’ level (freeze = shutting down, or disconnecting from a certain center, or mind). And sometimes / usually a combination of the above.
    So the question is, do you also differentiate between these different levels, or do you define the survival instant response as only physical?


  12. Hi Ben and Simon (and anybody else)

    Being fairly new to RPT, I have not read Scaer or other references. I would still like to explore my reflections to the question (challenge!) Simon put:
    “Question: name a hypothetical trauma in which t&b is the “survival instinct” that saves your life, but gets “stuck.””
    When I think about a young baby, that is left alone (without skin contact /nursing option) I would say that she will/could experience a life-threthening trauma. Because she does not know (intellectually) that this civilisation that she is borne into, will feed her and tend to her on a anther timescale and in a different manner than her evolutionary history have her to expect. This I assume will trigger a survival instinct. She will survive the trauma, but it will not be the survival instinct that ensured the survival – it is the civilisation. So i would mean that the instinct would be left “on”, triggering feelings of aloneness, worry of abondenment or anxiety. I would say there is a mismatch between the evolutionary shaped expectations and civilisation…

    Look forward to further respectful disagreements… ;)
    (I love communities where that is the norm!)


Leave a Reply


Using Gravatars in the comments - get your own and be recognized!

XHTML: These are some of the tags you can use: <a href=""> <b> <blockquote> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>