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Secure Phylogenetic Attachment: The Antithesis of Trauma?

A Monozygotic Twin Study Assessing the Efficacy of Somatic Experiencing® and Attachment Focused-Somatic Experiencing

 

Joseph P. Riordan

 

Abstract

Monozygotic twins offer a unique opportunity to examine the contagious nature of trauma in attachment dyads when one twin experiences trauma, but the other does not. Dyadic trauma is suboptimal and antagonistic to the dynamics of secure phylogenetic attachment (SPA). Attachment perturbations due to trauma may be complicit in widespread psychopathology, loneliness, social isolation, and loss of social cohesion. Somatic experiencing (SE) is an effective treatment for PTSD and attachment focused-somatic experiencing (AF-SE) resolves dyadic trauma. Traumatology may require a paradigm shift to include the interpersonal neurobiological dynamics of trauma as a contagion and the emerging role of SPA as the antithesis of trauma.

Monozygotic twins share the same DNA and may share a unique form of sibling attachment, described here as monozygotic attachment characterized by greater than expected interpersonally attuned face–heart connectedness in uniquely congruent somatic expressions of monozygotic attunement resulting in suboptimal attachment. A quantitative, experimental approach was used to determine whether dyadic trauma is contagious and compromises SPA and also whether SE and AF-SE are effective treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trauma symptomology, and dyadic trauma to restore SPA. Inferential analysis offered observations into the nature of trauma in attachment relationships and the significance of trauma in relation to widespread psychopathology, loneliness, social isolation, and loss of social cohesion.

Smartphone devices were used to record seven autonomic variables pre-and post-treatment for both twins: heart rate variability (HRV), three HRV index variables, heart rate, sleep duration, and sleep disturbances. Mean and small sample t tests were applied to determine statistical significance. The study concludes that trauma is contagious in attachment dyads and contributes to psychopathology, loneliness, social isolation, and loss of social cohesion. SE is an effective treatment for PTSD and trauma symptomology. AF-SE resolves dyadic trauma restoring SPA as the antithesis of trauma.

Keywords: attachment focused-somatic experiencing, dyadic trauma, dyadic completion, monozygotic attachment, monozygotic attunement, secure phylogenetic attachment, somatic experiencing


Author Note

Joseph P. Riordan, SEP, CCLP, MAPS, is Director and Principal Psychologist at Riordan Psychological Services, 13 Mellody Ln., Jimboomba, QLD, Australia.


 

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Joseph P. Riordan, Riordan Psychological Services.  Ph. +61 7 5546 9683/+61 402 242 663 Email joseph@jrap.com.au