In this article I will discuss early development and how boundary ruptures can occur. When they do what can happen. How the nervous system can recover with Somatic Experiencing from trauma which may have occurred in early development. Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a potent method for resolving the effects of trauma, trauma symptoms and relieving chronic stress and anxiety.
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Trauma is generally defined as an inability to de-escalate from the ‘Fight, Flight, or Freeze’ response. This response is brought on by perceived life threatening danger by the baby, such as extreme neglect. If this neglect is prolonged, this becomes a traumatic experience. For the body this can have long-term impacts on the person all through their life. Trauma is a high level of crisis which causes the early developing baby to become stuck in a kind of prenatal fight-flight or freeze state. Of course, for a tiny infant, the freeze condition is the only option.
Development of the first senses:
At this early stage of infancy awareness organises around self and others. The infant is totally dependent on its caregivers to provide a nurturing safe environment. In this environment the tiny infant develops its ‘first senses’. What happens at this stage is critical in developing an individual with an organised perception of experience and an ability to respond appropriately to the environment around it. To learn more about this see this link in Massage Magazine:
The ‘first senses’ help us to relate to the environment through pressure (proprioception), equilibrium either through vertical or horizontal (balance), if something is close-by or far-away (spatial or kinaesthetic), and self-regulation of heart rate and breath (autonomic) relating to pressure and rhythm. When the early needs are unsupported, the senses begin to send out alarm signals. What can result is a physiological response of holding on and/or contracting that began in the early phase of life, this is one example of a boundary rupture referred to earlier. Emotionally this can lead to a general feeling of unease that can be hard to define but seems ever present. This response becomes the only response the ‘infant’ knows and the mind-body relationship has no other way of being ‘in sync’ with the surrounding environment.
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One client in her ’70s was born by a mother who was in hiding during WWII. The client has had a heart murmur all her life. This caused her unexplainable feelings of anxiety and panic in response to feeling her heart race. Eventually, she developed blood pressure problems and hypertension that led to a stroke. She was born in Europe during WWII during the bombings. After her birth she was exposed to chronic levels of stress, cared for by a young mother who was terrified for her own life and the life of her baby, as well as being terrified of her baby’s cries giving them away. As an infant, she was malnourished during her first year of her life.
Another example of a traumatic start in early development are children who were consistently deprived of and not ever given nurturing such as being physically held close with a loving gaze throughout their early development by their caregivers. This kind of inattentiveness can occur for various reasons. It is common that these children will develop an irregular heart beat and suffer with significant disorganisation in their nervous system.
I frequently work with people who have Chronic Fatigue syndrome (CFS) and or Fibromyalgia. Many refer to their symptoms having been with them most of their lives. They share with despair and frustration the difficulty in managing their complex existences. (see symptoms relating to CFS at: )
Some examples of symptoms that are common with CFS or Fibromyalgia are: chronic tension and physical symptoms that look like anxiety or an inability to relax, truly rest or get quality sleep; chronic poor digestion or being both wound up and exhausted all the time; a struggle with awkwardness socially due to high sensitivity or having high sensitivity levels that cause them to live in a virtual prison of instability with physical and/or emotional limitation; difficulty with recovering from things like flu; over exertion or exercise.

As you can see by what has been shared here, this early development of the internal senses of a newborn child are a very important consideration in the treatment of trauma. Each SE session offers a highly attuned and sensitive awareness to where there is a boundary rupture. Having the support of a trained person who can hold this awareness will reassure the person’s system of stability. This reassurance is recognised by that part of the person’s system that has been “holding on” for its whole life! In trauma from infancy Somatic Experiencing process offers the body a way to navigate back to a healthy relationship with self, to know the self in relation to the external environment. Meeting this in the body supports these early senses to know they exist and to organise as part of the sensory input and as part of what supports well being.
Through the healing process the boundary ruptures which have caused the ‘holding on’ must be met in a layered fashion, and it can take time to navigate so as not to ‘undo the holding on’ too quickly, which would cause more disruption and trauma. Doing this without rushing sets an important precedent for the healing process, informing the client’s system of a pace that is right for them and discovering spaciousness and containment at the same time. This allows the body to know wholeness and to be built upon a foundation which supports stability and well being.
For more information about Somatic Experiencing treatments and how Elushia practices click here.
Eluisha Pheta 120x180For an appointment call Elushia on 0414634831 or visit her website at: