Dr. Blakeslee’s dissertation, Accessing Implicit Memory Via Interoception: A Grounded Theory Investigation of Somatic Experiencing Practitioners’ First-Person Experiences and Clinical Observations, is now available for purchase for $20 USD.
NOTE: At this time, the dissertation is not available for purchase in the EU.
ABSTRACT: Although neuroscience has defined the field of implicit memory research, somatic psychologists have direct clinical experience in working with bodily aspects of implicit memory. One modality of somatic psychology called Somatic Experiencing (SE) utilizes interoception, or sensitive awareness of one’s internal bodily sensations, to reorganize traumatic symptoms bound in the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) (Levine, 1997; 1999; Zettle, 1998). This dissertation focuses on treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the way trauma survivors’ conscious awareness of bodily aspects of implicit memory may facilitate long-term recovery. The research questions this study addressed were: Do individuals’ personal and clinical experiences suggest that bodily aspects of implicit memory are accessible via interoception? How might working with implicit memory in the body support or contradict the validity of incorporating nonverbal approaches into trauma treatment? To explore theses questions the researcher collected and transcribed in-depth interviews from expert Somatic Experiencing Practitioners (SEPs) regarding their personal experiences and professional observations of implicit memory. The analysis generated a grounded theory that trauma is healed through a graduated depotentiation of associative/procedural memory. A depotentiation scale was also generated from the data. This study aimed to create new theoretical bridges between implicit memory research and somatic psychology while broadening awareness of body-oriented trauma treatment.