Peter is the author of the best selling book Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma — which was published in 24 languages and sold over 250,000 copies — as well as four audio learning series for Sounds True including the book/CD, Healing Trauma: a Pioneering Program in Restoring the Wisdom of Our Bodies and Sexual Healing, Transforming the Sacred Wound. He is the co-author of Trauma through a Child’s Eyes: Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing and Trauma-Proofing Your Kids: A Parents Guide for Instilling Confidence, Joy and Resilience. He recently released with Maggie Phillips the book/CD Freedom from Pain: Discover Your Body's Power to Overcome Physical Pain.
Beginning in the 1970’s, Peter’s explorations into how animals deal with threat led to the development of a method that is highly effective in dealing with the effects of overwhelm on our nervous system, called Somatic Experiencing (SE). SE is a clinical methodology based upon an appreciation of why animals in the wild are not traumatized by routine threats to their lives, while humans, on the other hand, are readily overwhelmed and often subject to the traumatic symptoms of hyper arousal, shutdown and dysregulation.
The image of the tiger was invoked by Dr. Peter A. Levine during his first session with “Nancy,” who suffered from an array of symptoms, in an event that would define and shape his career.
Without warning, Nancy suddenly froze, her pulse skyrocketing as she began reliving the moments before a traumatic childhood surgery, including being bound and anesthetized with ether. “I’m going to die! Please don’t let me die!” she repeated, helplessly. Amidst this chaos, Dr. Levine was compelled, by a seemingly prescient vision of a charging tiger, to say: "Nancy, you're being chased by a tiger. Run! Run for the nearest tree!" It was at this moment, as Nancy began kicking her feet, that Dr. Levine first witnessed the human animal’s innate ability to heal from shock and terror, by completing the instinctual, self-protective act that had been overwhelmed and frozen into her body’s nervous system, over 20 years earlier. On repeated follow up, this single session had a dramatic impact on Nancy's life, including the dissolution of her agoraphobia, cessation of her migraines, and a renewed, sustained vigor in living.
The Tiger has become a symbol of our aliveness, our innate nature.