Triune Brain

The brain evolved in three major bursts: one when we were reptiles, one when we became mammals, and one when we became human. Each part of our brain contains both the skills and defense mechanisms that suited us best during these evolutionary stages. Our reptile brain (also known as the brain stem) controls our gut instincts, our subconscious brain, and basic body functions such as heart rate and breathing. It also contains the freeze response: the body becomes immobile in the face of a threat. Next, we evolved our mammalian brain, also known as the limbic system. This part of our brain contains our emotions, our memory, and basic social bonds. It also provides us with our fight and flight system: cueing us to fight or run away when feeling threatened. Lastly, we evolved our human brain- also known as the prefrontal cortex, or our social engagement system. This gives us the ability to have language, creative arts, and complex social bonds and relationships. When we feel threatened, our first course of action is always to reason and communicate to resolve the stressor, if we can. When that doesn’t work, our brain regresses in reverse evolutionary order: first using our fight/flight and emotional system to try to deal with the threat, and then using our freeze response as a last resort: numbing and dissociating. An important take away from this is to consider: what part of the brain am I talking to in my interactions with this person? And what part of the brain am I using in this interaction? Am I coming to this like a human, like a deer, or like a lizard? And does this make sense given the needs of the situation? Through my specialized integration of somatic based therapies we can improve regulation of the nervous system and become more aware and intentional as we move in and out of these states. Contact me to set up an appointment or consultation today! #triunebrain #fightflightfreeze #mentalhealthawareness #defensemechanisms #fightflight #brainscience #neurobiology #neuroscience #traumaandthebrain #mentalhealtheducation #mentalhealththerapist

2 thoughts on “Triune Brain

  1. Hi. Thank you! For this beautiful integrative article on the brain and how emotional levels affect it. I have been experiencing severe, stress, attachment trauma, and failures in my life. My mother wants me to take “psyche medication,” but I want to see what areas of my brain have been affected? Before I take that huge step forward. I know I NEED counseling therapy which will help me heal and make PEACE with my emotions and self. Anyhow? What is the name of the “brain test” I can go get done to check for this and or if I qualify for a “mental disability?” I live in California. THANKS


    1. Hi Monica, unfortunately there’s no brain scan to determine what you are asking. I would seek out a counselor that specializes in post traumatic stress disorder. Best of luck!


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