Improve your emotional & mental health now!

Polyvagal Theory

Polyvagal theory in a gist.

I love illustrating concepts and putting them into understandable chunks. Hope this helps.


When we’re threatened our Sympathetic nervous system is active. We go into flight and fight response. It’s the mobilzation stage, the first line of defence against threat. A survival response.

When our life is threatened we might also go into a freeze state which is part of the parasympathetic nervous system. It’s a shut down. This is the second line of defence, the last ditch effort when fight or flight isn’t possible.
This is the dorsal vagal branch of the parasympathetic nervous system. This nerve comes around the brain stem and goes into gut and viscera.

The ventral branch ( Ventral Vagus) of the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for our social engagement system. When we engage with ourselves, our environment, connect and communicate with others, our ventral vagus nerve is activated. The ventral vagus comes in front of the Brain stem and goes into the chest, heart, throat and face. Healthy attachment with caregivers helps in developing the ventral vagal system.

When there is unresolved trauma, the Fight/flight and/or the freeze response ( dorsal vagus) will drive our system. When we resolve our trauma, then even if we are activated at times, we can easily switch to the rest/digest, repairing part of our nervous system, the ventral vagal branch that helps in connecting and communicating. It helps us feel safe.

You can check out Irene Lyon’s video for more information.

Comments for this post are closed.