I am a writer and speaker with roots in evolutionary anthropology and an active interest in psycholgical dynamics, particulary relating to trauma.
My work has been inspired by a desire to understand what makes us who we are. To that end, I’ve explored (1) the internal psychological and emotional world, (2) the external physical, social and relational world, and (3) our species’ evolutionary heritage.
My exploration has taken the form of both scholarship and personally lived experience.
I have a doctorate in biological anthropology from the University of Oxford. My research took me to a wilderness region of Tanzania to live with a traditional cattle-herding people. I studied what families needed to survive, as well as how evolutionary processes contribute to shaping social behaviour.
For the last 15 years I have focused on the dynamics of the wounded psyche. My understanding has emerged through bringing together my own personal experience with knowledge that comes from psychotherapy, neurobiology, anthropology and evolution. My book, Understanding and Healing Emotional Trauma was born out of this process and published in 2015. I have started work on another book.
Understanding and Healing Emotional Trauma is a uniquely multi-layered and interdisciplinary book which explores our current understanding of the forces involved in both the creation and healing of emotional trauma, in an engaging, accessible and vibrant way.
Emotional trauma, which can be triggered by many types of experiences, is characterised by its impact. When experiences leave us with a deeply held implicit conviction that we are at risk, our minds and bodies construct a set of unconscious defences which change our life-paths. Paradoxically, these defences create new, self-perpetuating layers of trauma and pain
In order to elucidate these dynamics, and to understand what is required for healing, I talk to some of the leading clinicians and researchers of today:
• Psychotherapists: Donald Kalsched, Bruce Lloyd, Tina Stromsted and
• Neurobiologists: Ellert Nijenhuis, Allan Schore and Daniel Siegel
• Evolutionary researchers: Jim Chisholm, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and Randy Nesse
This book took eight years to write, in part because I was committed to introducing the ideas of the interviewees in a way that has substance, but which is also accessible to a wide audience. My aims were to demystify and humanise the dynamics involved in creation of trauma, provide a mirror that would help people to recognise the consequences of their wounds, and offer a scaffold that could help to hold people as they do the inner work of healing.