Stephen Porges

EP115: Stephen Porges on Social and Emotional Connection, The Role of Oxytocin in Regulation, and Understanding Appeasement


Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is a researcher and professor best known as the originator of the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that emphasizes the importance of physiological state in the expression of behavioral, mental, and health problems related to traumatic experiences. He is the author of The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation(Norton, 2011), as well as several other books on Polyvagal Theory. Stephen is also the creator of a music-based intervention, the Safe and Sound Protocol ™, which currently is used by more than 2000 therapists to improve spontaneous social engagement, to reduce hearing sensitivities, and to improve language processing, state regulation, and spontaneous social engagement.


What He Shares:

  • Why he wears glasses for virtual meetings
  • Why we’re still able to co-regulate when we’re all wearing masks
  • The intersection of sex hormones and polyvagal theory


What You’ll Hear:

  • The subtle cues our bodies respond to during virtual contact
  • Landing in the co-regulatory aspects of online work or classes
  • How your openness and intention to connect impacts people you’re interacting with
  • The importance of the orbital muscles in non-verbal communication
  • How beauty standards impact our accessibility of interpersonal regulation
  • Cultural interpretation of facial muscles
  • How our nervous system responds to various perceived threats, including cultural and religious teachings
  • Locating your resources for settling
  • Co-regulating with the natural world
  • The importance of in-person community for parents and children
  • Oxytocin’s role in co-regulation between mother and baby
  • Fawning vs appeasement
  • The evolutionary value of appeasement
  • Differentiating between an objective event and how it actually registered in your nervous system.
  • Understanding the autonomic nature of both openness and defensive responses
  • Being a good student of your body
  • Being a ‘good enough’ co-regulator
  • The power of authentic connections
  • Reducing social distance, even while physically distance is important