Extracted from Dissertation– Somatic Communication:
Transforming Trauma Perceptions Through Memoir and Fairy Tale by Elaine Danielle Clark (Danielle Wise), Pacifica Graduate Institute Depth Psychology/Somatics Doctoral Program

When considering the communication exchange, listening, and history of our experiences in my family I must be aware of differing individual perceptions I have heard over the years. During an interactive conversation with another person “initial words carry the entire hologram of their consciousness to you” (Isaacs, 1999, p. 89), which include interpretations, assumptions, and perceptions. Listening impacts limited perception because originally “the information may not be focused enough – like seeing without a telescope, not enough light has been captured to let you see what is actually there” (p. 89). Recently, while planning the writing of my memories I realized I am stuck in certain words and memories as if they can only be interpreted a particular way based on the somatic sensation that has been embedded over time. The re-searching process now lends itself to questioning the authority of the memory as a current impact, seemingly a restructuring of both memory and my current felt sense.

Yet, I also must feel my body as I react to embedded memory and be willing to move through this process carefully as a full mind-body, or somatic, communication experience because “words count. You cannot take back your words. This is because they have energy; they are living carriers of the ecology and atmosphere in which you live” (Isaacs, 1999, p. 309). I must be careful when I am motivated to express language through somatic defenses because of my internal dialogue. This could cause more harm by relying on my assumptions as the only truth of the old feelings, intact as a memory with thoughts as words in my body, not conducive to my current wisdom and experience. The memories through which I refuse to shift my perception are attached and regulated by words. Bohm warned,  “you will find that the words which first hurt you will hurt you again” (1996/2010, p. 88). My intention is not to hurt again as I commit to my awareness of words that trigger me and re-place them in the present time, mind, and body.

Therefore, to be aware of my embodied communication, my internal dialogue, and my external expression means I must “find the words which express what is going on, and see what those words do – not for the purpose of finding the content of the words, but for the purpose of seeing what they do” (Bohm 1996, 88).  Somatic triggers and perceptions have inhibited my relationships with my parents and any opportunity to forgive. When words used years ago by them are spoken by them today,  the past revisits into the present body and I react in old ways: defensive and childish. “When we put words into people’s ears we are impinging on them and revealing our own intentions, honorable or not, just as surely as if we were touching them” (Pinker, 1994, p. 230). Words are powerful, they hold meaning through memory, yet I must manage the words I hear as well as those I wish to speak to touch others.

Words are the central way of exchanging ideas between people. However, “all knowledge is limited, because it is an abstraction from the whole.  It consists only of what you have learned up to this point” (Bohm, 1996/2010, p. 89).  History, memory, and somatic responses to language feel current as the felt sense but those perceptions may change with awareness and self-responsibility of interpretations.

Bohm, D. (1996/2010). On Dialogue. New York, NY: Routledge.
Isaacs, W. (1999). Dialogue and the art of thinking together: A pioneering approach to communication in business and life. New York, NY: Currency.

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