Part 2 - Physiological Resilience

Tao of Resilience Part 1 Intro Part 2 Physiological Part 3 Psychophysical Part 4 Metaphorical Part 5: Conclusions Iona Miller Links


by Peggie Southwick; Iona Miller, Editor
Asklepia Foundation, ©1998/2002


Evolution and Natural Selection

Human Ethology
Ethnology and Mythology --[Brain symbol & Experience; ritual soothing]
*Punctuated Equilibrium

Morphogenetic Engineering

Dispositional Types
Genetic Alternations

Vagal Tone Measures and Resilience

Homeostasis an the Autonomic Nervous System
Stress Vulnerability of Infants
Stress Vulnerability in Children and Adults

Summary of Physiological Resilience Findings


The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from these laws and reconstruct the universe. (Phillip W. Anderson, 1972)

What at first may appear to be evolving into another reductionistic view of our human origins is not what it seems.  While it is the goal of this paper to establish a lowest common denominator, so to speak, of what makes the universe resilient, this is not meant to imply that any actual human comprehension of such a force, or entity, or set of laws, is possible.  It is meant, rather, to clarify somewhat what it is that we do not know.

That having been said, the second leg of this exploration into the jungle of resilience theories can now begin--a journey along which many useful twigs, branches and vines have already been gathered upon which to structure yet another theory.  This next section begins in the jungle with mankind's earliest ancestors and journeys onward along the evolutionary ladder to examine the more specific effects that natural selection has had on determining who among humans would be born resilient, and who would be given the opportunity to work at becoming that way.

Evolution and Natural Selection

Elaine de Beauport (cited in Andrews, 1977) reminded readers of the primitive, usually repressed, instincts to which humans are subject:

We have to remember that we carry in us a whole evolutionary zoo.  When we react in a given situation, we are not the sane, rational creature we would like to be.  We are reacting just like turtles, alligators, and lizards to our physical boundaries, like dogs, rabbits, and horses to issues of bonding and affection. (p. 42)

Put another way by Dostoevski, "Don't let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them" (from placard; source unknown).  In other words, history doesn't repeat itself; historians repeat each other.

Human Ethology

Structural functionalism.  Darwin's theory emphasized that in living things, as in architecture, form follows function.  He claimed that all of an organism's characteristics have, or at some time had, functional significance (Carlson, 1994).  In light of this, it is interesting to note that

[r]esearchers now think biological evolution began in layers of clay, rather than in the primordial sea.  Interestingly, clay is... a porous network of atoms arranged geodesically within octahedral and tetrahedral forms.  But because these octahedra and tetrahedra are not closely packed, they retain the ability to move and slide relative to one another.  This flexibility apparently allows clay to catalyze many chemical reactions, including ones that may have produced the first molecular building blocks of organic life. (Ingber, 1997, p. 57)

The mutually interactive effects of structural flexibility and energy catalyzation, as this paper will later demonstrate, are critically important aspects of our evolutionary resilience.  Regarding Darwin's process of natural selection,

mutations are changes in the chromosomes of sperms and eggs that join together and develop into new organisms...Most mutations are deleterious: The offspring either fails to survive or survives with some sort of deficit.  However, a small percentage of mutations are beneficial and confer a selective advantage to the organism that possesses them. (Carlson, 1994, p.8)

In other words, those elements or forms that are the most stable or functional will be the most likely to continue to exist and pass on their more resilient traits to future generations.  This includes instinctive behavior patterns as well as physical characteristics.  Thus, as form has followed function in this manner over the generations, clues to original forms and functions have been passed along also, --but only those of the most resilient sorts.

Not all patterned behavioral responses are carved in genetic codes, however.  "Many of them are learned through interactions of the organism with its environment during its lifetime.  ...However, the ability to learn [those] new behaviors...must surely be genetically determined" (Petri, 1991, p. 26).  Petri goes on to explain that ethology is involved in the study of the biological evolution, development and function of behaviors, some of which are conceptualized as "consummatory" and others which are seen as more "appetitive."

Well-coordinated and established patterns of stimuli and responses fall into the former assimilative category, while more flexible and adaptive, or accommodative, learning behaviors define the latter.  It is further theorized that each learned behavioral response has its own state-dependent energy-pattern memory called its "action specific energy" which is only triggered or "released" by the "fixed action pattern" within which it was originally learned.  These automatic behavioral responses can be triggered by environmental, "key" stimuli, or by their interactive "social releasers."

A renowned ethologist named Tinbergen (Petri, 1991) proposed a somewhat Freudian-Maslowian (libido-needs) hierarchical model of these instinctive and learned behavior patterns in which each level of the hierarchy could be triggered only after enough energy had built up within the structure preceding it to create an imbalance.  This on-going feedback-loop, or equilibrative process, was portrayed as reversible, so that when the lower levels had expended their built-up energies, they would no longer be triggerable and thus would help create a reciprocal build-up of tension within the higher-ranking structures.

Ethnology and mythology

Ethnology is the anthropological study of the comparative cultures of different peoples.  Mythology is the study of the stories that people of various cultures have used over time to explain life and proscribe behaviors in a manner consistent with their beliefs and values.  In essence, myths are living metaphors of meaning for those through whom they are created and preserved (Campbell, 1988).  Cytowic (1993) gives an example of how this process works:

A metaphor is often defined as experiencing one thing in terms of another...Metaphoric understanding is the ability to perceive similarity among seemingly dissimilar objects....{For example] the structure of our spatial concepts emerges from our direct physical experience {of our physical orientation in space]....By switching metaphors, we alter how we comprehend something and thus alter reality. (pp.207, 209)

Thus it can be inferred that as proscribed motivators of human behavior, mythic metaphors can be said to provide a behavioral learning function similar to the conditioned social releasers described above.  In other words, one of the primary evolutionary functions of myth must have been to provide a cultural repertoire of pre-programmed behavioral responses, or coping skills.

In addressing the more personal implications of individual, as opposed to collective, mythological experiences, Campbell (1988) says

dreams are manifestations in energy form of the energies of the body in conflict with one another.  That is what myth is.  Myth is a manifestation in symbolic images, in metaphorical images, of the energies of the body in conflict with each other.  This organ wants this, that organ wants that.  The brain is one of the organs. (p. 39)

Thus, he implied that the function of myth followed the form, or patterns, of the energy from which it arose in the human body.  Put another way, one's personal myth is an outer-world reflection of its inner-world state.  Thus it can be assumed that, according to Tinbergen's model, whichever levels of one's inner state-of-affairs has the most built-up tension within it will be the one exerting the greatest influence on its outer world in the form of dream and images and the behavioral responses their stimuli might be likely to trigger.


Thus it can be deduced that human evolution has been greatly facilitated--or, made more resilient--by the creation and maintenance of individual and collective myths.  By serving as a rather unconscious kind of objective-subjective self-referencing, or inner dialog of humans with themselves, ideally, myths enabled them (a) to somewhat unconsciously alter, as needed, their conscious frame of reference so that increasingly complex levels of new stimuli could be more easily assimilated and accommodated, and (b) to learn to consciously accept and honor the "other" in the outer world as they were able to learn to consciously accept and honor the "other" within themselves.

It is in this sense that mankind has been able to create metaphoric forms and functions paralleling his own physical form and its function,-- "metaphorms" (Siler, 1997, p. 8), if you will.  From the energy patterns formed within his body and mind, he has metaphorically re-constructed himself within the outer world, thus effectively facilitating his own evolution.

Morphogenetic Engineering

So, what kinds of individual mythologies must be evolved in order to help "metaphorm" a more resilient myth for our current global collective?  If the outer-world symbols from which personal mythologies arise originate from within the energy dynamics of the body, might therapeutic intervention at the mind-body level actually be able to reverse this mythology-creating process?  Can we actually consciously facilitate the mind-body evolution of mankind's resilience, or are we simply the linear by-product of evolutionary genetics as classical science steadfastly maintains?

Dispositional Types

Chess & Thomas (1986) have done a very thorough job of researching the temperaments that people are born with, and have concluded that none of the types are immutable; all are amenable to change over time.  What kinds of dispositional energies, or archetypal characteristics, need to be formed before they can function to metaphorm culturally into symbols depicting, for example, the value of harmony and order?  The following "shopping list" provided by Chess & Thomas remind readers that these dispositional characteristics are not "all or nothing" phenomena, but exist on mutually interactive continua (p. 116).

Thus, (a) one's innate energy level manifests through his characteristc activity level when other motivational factors are minimal or absent: (b) Rhythmicity is correlated with the regularity with which one daily lives, with one's habituality, or tendency to maintain stable behavioral patterns over time; (c) Approach/withdrawl is about one's typical response to novel stimuli such as new events or people; (d) Adaptability speaks for itself, but (e) threshold level requires more explanation: it is involved with one's innate sensitivity to arousal, as discussed earlier in this paper; (f) The intensity of one's reactions is about emotional regulation; (g) mood quality is self-explanatory; (h) distractibility, as discussed earlier, has to do with one's ability to selectively attend to incoming stimuli; and finally, (i) persistence and attention span measure's one's ability to maintain focused energy over time.  (Chess & Thomas, 1986)

So, a flexible, homeostatic balance of each of these innately or purposefully acquired inner-reality personality states would be needed in order to provide the archetypal matrix which a harmoniously resilient personality type could evolve.

Just as humans inherit various combination of these temperament traits, they are simultaneously subject to the throw of genetic dice before they are issued a body.  It is because of the strong mind/body connection to cultural archetypes and myths that research related to body types will now be examined.


Over 60 years ago Sheldon (cited in Hall & Lindzey, 1970) wrote about constitutional psychology, asserting that human behavior is related in important respects to observable physical aspects of the individual's psychological make-up.  Actually, this school of thought has been around for centuries, (usually in the for of social prejudices and racial bigotry) and was openly shared by Hippocrates.  In defining his terms, Sheldon explained that

...constitution refers to those aspects of the individual which are relatively more fixed and unchanging-- morphology, physiology, endocrine function, etc. --and may be contrasted with those aspects which are relatively more labile and susceptible to modification by environmental pressures, i.e., habits, social attitudes, education, etc... (p. 339)

Sheldon's work spanned decades and involved thousands of first-hand observations of variations and somatotypes, thoroughly documenting and categorizing each significant correlation between physique and temperament found to be consistent over time (Hall & Lindzey, 1970).

A brief summary  of his findings can best be undertaken by first explaining some basic morphogenetic facts of life.  At about the 16th day after conception, a fertilized human ovum becomes implanted in the uterine wall and begins differentiating into its embryonic stage by developing the three primary "germ" layers from which three kinds of cells evolve in the body as dictated by its unique genetic codes.  From the ectoderm are formed, among other things, all of the nerve tissues of the body, and all epidermal tissues such as skin and hair cells; from the mesoderm are formed, among other things, skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscle tissues, and cartilage, bone and other connective endothelial tissue; and from the endoderm is formed, among other things, the epithelial tissues of most of the body's organs and glands. (Marieb, 1989)

it was from these three embryonic tissues types that Sheldon derived the descriptors for his somatotypes.  As ectomorph, whose ectodermal development was predominant, "is linear and fragile...usually thin and lightly muscled...but the largest brain in proportion to his size".  A mesmorph's body, whose mesodern had become most highly developed "is hard, rectangular, with a predominance of bone and muscle".  An endomorph, whose endodermal tissues were genetically favored, "is characterized by softness and a spherical underdevelopment of bone and muscle, and highly developed viscera".

Sheldon described the various components of temperament that he had observed in relation to somatotypes, including the correlation strengths found among them.  For example, he found viscerotonia most closely correlated with endomorphy in that is characterized by what he called "a general love of comfort" (Hall & Lindzey, 1970, p. 359) implying a rather sensuous person.  He went on to describe this type as relaxed, even-tempered, and sociable.

He most strongly associated somatotonia with mesomorphy because it was characterized by "love of physical adventure, risk-taking, and a strong need for muscular and vigorous physical activity" (p. 359).  He noted strong parallels also between cerebrotonia and ectomorphy, describing this type as having an introverted, often self-consciously withdrawn, inhibited, "cerebral", -- perhaps more studious or analytical -- nature.

From all of these variables, Sheldon developed elaborate rating scales for both temperament and somatotypes, taking into consideration, of course, the many kinds of combinations that occur in any single individual and the manner in which they are combined.  Because of his strong belief that the connection between one's physical composition and one's temperament has powerful influences upon character development, he strongly encouraged psychotherapists to include his findings in their diagnostic procedures.  He suggested that "the success or reward that accompanies a particular mode of responding is a function not only of the environment in which it occurs, but also of the kind of person (type of physique) making the response" (Hall & Lindzey, 1970, p. 364.

Sheldon was apparently somewhat of a radical thinker, in many way ahead of his time.  For example, while "unconscious processes" were becoming hot topics in his field, he was inclined to matter-of-factly equate those functions to their underlying biological forms.  He hypothesized that "the unconscious is the body" and that "the reason there is so much difficulty in verbalizing the unconscious is simply because our language is not geared to systematically reflecting what goes on in the body.  Thus Sheldon intuited what science is just now beginning to see: that psychophysiological processes are not merely the random result of genetics, but involve many complex interactions on all levels of reality, which all seem to metaphorically reflect one another.

Genetic Alterations

"The answer seems so tricky 'til you catch it in a flash," says Shapiro (1991, p. 1) of the excitement of unravelling a biochemical mystery with his students.  He then continues:

The secret of human identity now seems equally clear.  The general human plan is stored in a language of four letters.  Some modest spelling variations provide for our individual differences.  We each carry two copies of the plan: One is taken from our mother and one from our father.  When we reproduce, we shuffle and splice our two copies as if we were shuffling a deck of cards, then we donate half of the mixture to our child. (p.1)

Ideally, each child is born with 23 pairs of chromosomes as a result of this parental shuffling, splicing, and donating process.  Shapiro (1971) compared these information-hearing entities its a massive 48-volume encyclopedia set composed of over three billion bits of information.  He joked that if a human's genetic information were indeed published someone would risk a hernia to try to lift even one of the volumes.  That fact is made all the more impressive, he reminded readers, when it is recalled that there are only four "letters" in the genetic alphabet.

It is not the intention of this paper to try to explain how genetic mutations occur; as Rossi (1993) has explained, "It is a very rare evolutionary event based upon chance errors in copying the information structure of the gene from one generation to the other" (p. 150).  Besides, short of genetic engineering of our offspring, just knowing which genes makes a person more resilient is of little practical use.  It is sufficient to know that our destinies are greatly influenced by genetics; the more those influences are consciously acknowledged, the more efficaciously we can learn to either change them or cope with them.  Instead, here is some more information about the modulation of the expression of genes, since that is something quite different.  As Rossi continues:

it involves gene transcription, the process of making copies of certain genes or groups of genes every second of our lives.  These copies act like blueprints which are sent out in the form of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) to the "protein factories"...of the cell where they serve as templates for the manufacture or "translation" of the mRNA into new proteins.  Some of these proteins, called "transcription regulators" return back to modulate the expression of other genes" ...Other proteins serve as enzymes that facilitate all the major functions of the cell, such as energy production...and the basic processes of growth, respiration, healing, etc.  A third major group of proteins serve as the building blocks for the continual remodeling and replacement of the informational network of the cell as it communicates back with itself...and the rest of the body. (1993, p. 151)

Rossi (1993) explained that there are many inner and outer environmental factors which can interrupt the smooth transcription of genes in this manner. Therefore, because of the reciprocal nature of the body's interactional dynamics, simple events like developmental processes, hormone changes, stress, and even learning are all potential sources of modification to the genetic transcription process.  On the other hand, Rossi speculated that about 30,000 of the body's 100,000 or so genes are available for modulation by mind methods.

Thus, Rossi and others have developed therapeutic hypnosis techniques which they believe can help individuals "retrain" the transcription of selective genetic codes by altering the neurochemical events which thoughts and behaviors are capable of inducing via their influences on the autonomic, endocrine, immune and neuropeptide system.  [The same is true of CRP].  indeed, his book presented some very compelling examples as evidence of this "mind-becoming-matter" phenomenon's potential for healing at any--and ultimately all--human levels of being.  [Again applies to CRP].

A fascinating example of how easily genetic transcription can be altered was provided by Shapiro (1991).

One effective way to destroy the meaning of a gene is simply to remove a letter.  Genes are read in protein-coding areas in units of three.  If one letter is taken out, all triplets to the right suffer "frame-shifting" and lose their original meaning.  This comes clear with an illustration.  Take the following English three-letter word sentence


Remove the B of BIG, and shift every other letter to the left, keeping the three-letter word structure, and you get



Now it seems evident that archetypes not only come into the world in different modifiable personality "flavors" but they also simultaneously manifest themselves genetically though different shapes and sizes of human forms.  Extrapolating from the above findings, it seems that human forms arrive genetically customized with various combination of predominances.

These include (a) viscerotonic functions which take the form of softly rounded endomorphs with what Elain DeBeauport would describe as manifestations of the limbic brain's emotional intelligences, and Jung (See, for example, Campbell, 1971) might describe as evidence of "feeling" personalities; (b) somatotonic functions which take the form of athletic mesomorphs manifesting a predominance of basic brain intelligences and "sensing" personality traits: and (c) cerebrotonic functions which take the slender form of intellectual ectomorphs demonstrating more of the neocortical functions characteristic of the "thinking" and "intuiting" personality types.

The more resilient, emotionally intelligent person would possess the ability to skillfully shuttle her energies between these many brain/body states in order to maintain a stable balance of homeostatic life functions.  But what would this balanced life state look like if we saw it?

Vagal Tone Measures of Resilience

Exploring the physiological substrates of temperament variations has brought forth some ground-breaking scientific research into possible neurological origins of resilience.  Among the leaders in this task has been Stephen Porges (1992), who reported that "[m]easurement of cardiac vagal tone is proposed as a method to assess on an individual basis both the stress response and the vulnerability to stress" (p. 498).  His methods involve monitoring the neural control of the heart via the vagus nerve, as indicator of homeostasis.

Homeostasis and the Autonomic Nervous System

In order to clarify the operational definitions of terms used in his paper, Porges emphasized that

[h]omeostasis as a construct was never meant to reflect a static state.  Rather it defined the dynamic feedback and regulation processes necessary for the living organism to maintain internal states within a functional range....Thus, status of the PNS state parallels homeostasis.  Alternatively, withdrawl of PNS tone is response to a challenge may define stress, and PNS tone in prior to the challenge may represent physiologic or stress vulnerability. (1992, p. 500; emphasis Porges')

He explains how the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) regulates all of the body's homeostatic (visceral) functions by (a) activating its "accelerator" (the sympathetic nervous system, or SNS) in order to marshall its defenses on behalf of the body's internal systems, and/or (b) applying its "brakes" to that system in order to calm things down and return the main flow of energy to the body's inner processes.

Usually these two ANS systems function synergistically, one the reciprocal of the other.  Occasionally, however, they are characterized by dual activation, as they are during sexual arousal, or by dual inhibition as in situations involving states of high physiologic stress vulnerability and low levels of SNS protection from stressors.

Because of its role in mediating the action of the "gas" and the "brakes" on the heart muscle in response to the demands placed upon the body, Porges (1992) demonstrated how the variations in tone, or responsivity rate, of the vagus nerve can reliably be used as a measure of a person's ability to cope with stressors.  Since the body's "default setting" is in the PNS, or resting mode, high vagal tone would indicate a body at rest.  Conversely, a low vagal tone would depict a stress-response by the SNS.

Stress Vulnerability of Infants

Even in the womb there are critical periods of vulnerability to suboptimal conditions (Nathanielsz, 2001). Growing bodies, even as simple societies of cells face special challenges.  Shortages in exercise, nutrients or oxygen, or too many toxins, and problems in the development of sexual identity can cause the fetus to makes choices that may haunt it in the future, altering genetic blueprints.  Brain development takes priority, but may rob the organs of nutrients and create undesirable structural changes.  Symmetrical growth retardation, normal growth and ultimate body size are related, as well as age of onset of sexual maturity. Each cell makes a choice to divide or specialize at some point, and the process is irreversible.

Making up fetal deficits is difficult if not impossible.  The stress-response (stress axis) in the brain and endocrine system is programmed for life in the womb.  The stress-depression link or stress vulnerability is programmed before birth.  Those who over-react to stress, pre- or post-natally tend toward depression, blunting the daily ebb and flow of cortisol.  Optimal, not perfect, womb environments require a well-nourished, low stress atmosphere, soothing the 9-month ride.  Even then, birth-order (or premature birth) makes a significant difference.

1.  Vulnerable periods occur at different times for different organs in the body.

2.  Programming has permanent effects that alter the body's response in later life and can modify susceptibility to disease.

3.  Fetal development is activity dependent.  Normal development is dependent on the baby's continuing normal activity in the womb.

4. Programming involves several different structural changes in important organs.

5.  The placenta plays a key role in programming. It is a hormone-producing gate-keeper.

6.  Compensation carries a price.  In an unfavorable environment, the developing baby makes attempts to compensate for deficiencies.  However, the compensatory effort made by the baby often carries a price.

7.  Attempts made after birth to reverse the consequences of programming may have their own unwanted consequences.  Problems may arise when postnatal conditions prove to be other than those for which the fetus prepares.

8.  Fetuses react differently to suboptimal conditions than do newborn babies or adults.

9.  The effects of programming may pass across generations by mechanisms that do not involves changes in the genes.

10.  Programming has different effects in males and females. (Nathanielsz, 2001, pp. 14-15)

Porges' (1992) study measured the cardiovascular reactivity of neonates.  About half of the infants were full-term, healthy newborns, and the other half were high-risk preterm babies who had reached the approximate age of a full-term infant.  All measurements were taken while the infants slept in order to screen extraneous effect from the readings.

It was found that the high-risk infants had a significantly lower pre-stressor vagal tone than did the full-term infants, indicating that the preterm babies had limited PNS energy-resources with which to regulate their internal state when subjected to stressors.  In other words, these babies were functioning with a limited or defective PNS braking and accelerating system, placing their health at risk from both interior and exterior stressors.

Some of Porges' other findings in relation to resilience included the observation that high vagal tone in infants is strongly associated with (a) development of young babies' visual recognition memory; (b) more rapid habituation of novel stimuli, or learning; and, (c) more sustained periods of attention.  Researchers have found these skills to be "sensitive, prophetic signs of later intelligence" (Kagan, 1995, p. 555)  Porges continues,

Moreover, the limbic system, assumed by psychophysiologists to modulate autonomic arousal solely through sympathetic excitation, has direct inhibitory influences on the cells of origin of the vagus...Parallelling this increase in vagal tone are increases in self-regulatory and exploratory behaviors. (1992, p. 503).

Thus it would appear that, as Goleman (1995) similarly predicted, high vagal tone, as a measure of one's stimulus-threshold, and thus one's attention-shuttling ability, (Wilson & Gottman, 1995) facilitates intellectual and psychological development processes in children leading to potential higher IQ scores and a scholastic advantage as they approach school age.

Stress Vulnerability of Children and Adults

Porges (1992) extended his resilience research to include several related physiological effects of vagal tone's influence on body functions in adults.  He found that hypertension involved people "with lead feet," so to speak, who kept the SNS "accelerator" pushed to the floor with little or no "braking."  Diabetes, in keeping with this metaphor, is often suffered by those more easily overwhelms individuals with low vagal tone who chronically "ride" or "depress" their PNS brake.  He could generalize like this from the neonate studies to the general population because

[t]he quantification of vagal tone provides a standard instrument with statistical parameters that are comparable between patients and throughout the life span.  The method is not dependent on stages of motor or cognitive development and thus is practical for use [at all ages] even with neonates. (p. 503)


Later we will return to Porges' work to examine the more intricate details of his research methods and finding in regard to this amazing system of energy "checks and balances."  We will then be looking at how it all ties in with universal patterns of energy distribution management.  For now it is sufficient to have some idea of what resilience looks like as a function of our body's responses to stressors and to know that some people are born with more efficient PNS acceleration and braking systems than other, giving them a distinct evolutionary advantage in the area of psychophysiological resilience.  By extrapolation from the above findings, we now have a more efficient way to "drive," or modulate, our PNS-regulated bodies.

Summary of Physiological Findings

The causes of human behavior are varied and complex, and do not lend themselves to a purely reductionistic explanation.  This is the circuitous path we followed in order to reach our present destination:

(a) From Darwin we concluded that because form follows function evolution has promised survival of the fittest functions;

(b) We then learned from ethology's "hierarchy of needs" model that man has indeed increased his chances of survival by learning new, more adaptive behaviors in order to maintain a more homeostatic energy balance;

(c) Then, ethnology and mythology illustrated that adaptive behaviors can be metaphormed from their body-state to their mind state by symbolically reflecting inner conflicts and resolution into the outer world;

(d) The subsequent exploration into variations in dispositional types showed how one's innate temperament is modifiable by consciously reframing "threats" into "challenges";

(e) We then saw how the characteristic behaviors, thoughts and attitudes of an individual appear to be influenced by his morphogenetic types, subject to possible modification through modulation of gene expression in the body.

(f) Porges' work gave us a more concrete way to conceptualize and measure how the body's physiology influences its psychological functions, and how those functions can in turn influence behaviors which can modify the body's physiology.  This now brings us to the place where mind and body meet:  Psychophysiological Resilience.


Porges, S (1992, September) Vagal tone: a physiologic marker of stress vulnerability.  Pediatrics, 90 (3), 498-504.

Nathanielsz, Peter (2001); The Prenatal Prescription; Harper Collins Publishers: New York, New York.

Rossi, E.L. (1993). The psychobiology of mind-body healing (Rev. ed). New York: W.W. Norton & Co.