Dr Thomas Lewis, co-author of A General Theory of Love, posits that contact and connection, affect the physiology of human beings in regulatory ways (Lewis et al., 2000). Human beings are literally wired for connection through circuits located in the limbic system, the feeling part of the brain. Limbic resonance has been described by Dr Lewis as “having someone with a keen ear sense your melodic essence”. It is also a state that includes dopamine-promoted feelings of empathic harmony, and the norepinephrine circuit-originated emotional states of fear, anxiety and anger. In therapy, this knowledge can be used for the betterment and healing of the client, as we can help expand “the capacity for empathy and non-verbal connection that is present in mammals, and that forms the basis of our social connections as well as the foundation for various modes of therapy and healing” (Lewis et al., 2000). In a study done in 2001 by Michael Meany, it was shown that rats with attentive mothers grow up with more receptors for neurotransmitters that inhibit the activity of the amygdala and fewer for stress hormones like adrenalin and corticotropin releasing hormones (Hrossowyc, 2009). If this is true for humans, it would be another supportive argument for attachment parenting theory.
Knowledge of limbic resonance is very useful in psychotherapy. As therapists, we can be assured that our deep connection and communion with clients is not ‘simply nice or comforting’, but the very foundation of healing, or healing itself. I have been able to see limbic resonance in action, when my client and I gaze at each other without ‘nowhere to go or nothing to do’ (Jon Kabat-zinn), or sometimes touch hands, for example, in an unrushed, unspoken way during a Hakomi or NeuroSomatic Reprocessing Session. Looking into each other’s eyes seems to restructure, rewire modes of being, old patterns. It gives concrete proof that there is a way of being possible to all of us. Limbic resonance can be used to calm, to enter a state of equanimity, to rewire the brain, to make way for profound techniques of transformation.
PS, I invite all to read an incredible article on polyvagal nerve and therapeutic presence by Toronto psychologist and therapist Shari Geller and world renowned Stephen Porges:
Hrossowyc, D. (2009). Resonance, Regulation and Revision: Rosen Method Meets the
Growing Edge of Neurological Research. Rosen Method Institute Journal. Volume2, Issue2.
Lewis, T., Amini, F., & Lannon, R. (2001). A general theory of love. New York: Vintage Books.