This is a total MUST HEAR if you have a nervous system and I think you do. Justin Sunseri, Therapist & Coach obsessed with the Polyvagal Theory, is a unique voice in sharing the information of the polyvagal theory made available first by Stephen Porges and later also by Deb Dana. Justin Sunseri has his own conceptualization of the polyvagal theory and is doing a great service to people by sharing his knowledge – Link below. In this chapter of TAP you will hear me (Mannah) ask questions such as: Why can’t we be in the social ventral state all the time? What can we do to stop ruminating from a polyvagal lens? What is ADHD’s underlying nervous system state…..and so on. Justin is kind to answer it all and much more. He even gets deeply into his flight mode – but it turns out to be a good thing because, like he says on his website, the world really does need a new understanding of mental health! Listen as we talk about:

  • The behavioral and emotional impact and the functional purpose of the three states: Social, Sympathetic (flight/fight), and Dorsal/Shut Down/Freeze
  • Neuroception of danger -for example of rejection as potential danger
  • Diagnostic critique – Justin advocates for a shift from pathologizing symptoms to understanding them as adaptive responses to environmental challenges, that we can SHIFT–
  • ADHD, neurodiversity – as for example a flight activation  underlying the behavior and how you can balance it out with safety. Could also be a child in a hypovigilant state – we can talk in general but according to Justin it is actually a unique blend of states for each person
  • When we are literal safe but not getting the co-regulation and emotional safety
  • Home away from home (Deb Danas expression about a state of autonomic regulation that is not the optimal “home” state of safety and social engagement but is still functional and manageable, it can still function reasonably well without being in extreme stress or shutdown)
  • Coping Skills – and when they are not an option anymore
  • Addictions, Anxiety and a BiPolar nervous system 
  • Freeze – panic or rage 
  • The problem with saying “it’s okay you are that way”
  • Safety looks different for all of us
  • How mobilized are you in your rumination? Is there energy in it or not ?
  • The primary mover is the state
  • Aquarius as the revolution and mercury in pieces as solving the puzzle of life in a logic way/ explaining everything logicially/Empathy is part of the solution/language 
  • Polyvagals compassionate and holistic approach to treating clients with cues of safety and with empathy and validation rather than diagnosis where YOU are that way

I love this chapter so much, my favorite quote is “I have a problem with all these diagnosis” about 35 minutes in, you need to be there for it and it unfolds in the end as Justin reveals what limits (and liberation) means to him. Have a listen, tell me what you think and check out the links to us here:


Check Justin Sunseri out right here:


Direct link to his podcast:


He is out with a book soon, so keep an eye out for that.



Mannahs Website: