Dr. Dayton explains in plain terms how the brain works and copes with intense emotions after experiencing traumatic relationships. It becomes difficult for the brain’s limbic system to regain balance and therefore drugs, alcohol, eating, or other ways of coping become the best way one can do this. With therapy, conscious awareness, and new ways of practicing balance, one can begin to learn how to calm their brain in more healthy ways. Dayton also discusses attachment and what she calls the “biology of love,” amongst many other ideas and concepts that are quite helpful.
Dr. Dayton has given the reality of how we are hurt in relationships a very up-to-date treatment without over medicalizing what she discusses – after all, it is relationships we are talking about. One cannot just fix their life with better thoughts, as this is a poor understanding of the brain and how our whole organism responds to what it thinks is danger given past experiences. Working with the nervous system and the limbic system in the brain helps one to bring balance to the whole organism. Once one can bring balance to a system getting out of control, they can then begin to work through some of the difficult emotions that arise as adults. The difficult emotions still need to be dealt with but one must be able to “handle” that, in other words, not get so flooded that they shut down, dissociate, or run away.
I would highly recommend this book for those of you looking to kick any type of behavior that has become an addiction or self-soothing tool but is only bringing you more pain. Not everyone who is in addiction has suffered relationship trauma but many have, and so it is important to understand what exactly is happening when relationship issues, or even the world, triggers you so badly that you can no longer override your feelings to stop yourself from using. Learning more about the brain is helpful and so is learning more about how to be in and facilitate healthy relationships in your life.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.