Understanding Reactions to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Insights from the Polyvagal Theory and the Oxytocin Hypothesis
Saturday 18 July 2020 - A Live Webinar
With Stephen W. Porges, PhD and Sue Carter, PhD
- Includes a recording of the event with access for a year (14 days post the event)
- Bookings close at 9.00am BST Thursday 16 July
The spread of the SARSCov2 virus presents an unprecedented event that rapidly introduced widespread life threat, economic de-stabilization, and social isolation. The human nervous system is tuned to detect safety and danger, integrating body and brain responses via the autonomic nervous system. Polyvagal Theory provides a perspective to understand the impact of the pandemic on mental and physical health.READ MORE...
This perspective highlights the important role of the state of the autonomic nervous system in exacerbating or dampening threat reactions to the pandemic. In addition, the theory alerts us to the impact of clinical history (e.g., trauma) on autonomic regulation as an important compounding risk factor lowering the threshold to behaviorally and physiologically destabilize in response to the pandemic. The theory provides a strategy to dampen the adverse reactions to threat (e.g., acute stress disorders) through portals of social engagement that evolved to downregulate defenses to promote calmness and connectedness. Consistent with a Polyvagal perspective, oxytocin and vasopressin dynamically moderate the autonomic nervous system influencing vagal pathways and anti-inflammatory circuits that help explain the adaptive consequences of love, trust, and social behavior for emotional and physical health. Thus, interventions that target the client’s capacity to feel safe and use the social engagement system to regulate physiological state can be effective enhancements of treatments of mental health disorders that are dependent on defense systems. The workshop will integrate the Polyvagal Theory with current research on the mammalian neuropeptides of oxytocin and vasopressin, which facilitate social behaviors and trust. In this workshop Porges and Carter will discuss applications of their research to the current pandemic.