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Our Polyvagal World - Worth Buying? - a Book Review

There's an exciting new book that delves into the depths of Polyvagal Theory, providing insights into our complex nervous systems. In this blog post, I will review "Our Polyvagal World" by Dr. Stephen Porges and Seth Porges. I am a huge Polyvagal Nerd and a member of the Polyvagal Institute's Editorial Board. I'll try to be as unbiased as possible!

(Links to the book will take you to Amazon. I will get a portion of the book sale at no extra cost to you.)

"Our Polyvagal World" Book - Approachable for All

"Our Polyvagal World" is an approachable book that caters to many audiences. From general readers to Polyvagal Theory enthusiasts, the book offers something for everyone. The language used in the book is simple and easy to understand, making it accessible even to newcomers to the theory.

Seth Porges seems to be the primary writer. His Dad, Dr. Stephen Porges, is the creator of the Polyvagal Theory, and seems to have written some of the book, but also acted as editor. The two strike a great balance overall.

Key Topics in "Our Polyvagal World" Book

The book covers many topics, from oxytocin to evolution, to respiratory science arrhythmia, providing readers with a diverse range of insights. Whether you are interested in understanding the impact of Polyvagal Theory on schools, prisons, or mixed states, "Our Polyvagal World" has something for you.

My favorite section is the one on oxytocin. It does a great job of connecting the chemical to the Polyvagal Theory and has a beautiful little twist to it. Out of the entirety of this book, this is by far the most delightful and left me with a smile.

Politically Neutral and Open:

I also love and commend the authors' commitment to maintaining a politically neutral and inclusive approach. The discussion points are inviting to all readers, regardless of their political or religious leanings. They really go out of their way to discuss the Polyvagal Theory and make it approachable for anyone. It's refreshing to see a book that focuses solely on knowledge and its practical application, allowing readers to apply the theory as they see fit.

Areas for Improvement:

While there is much to appreciate in "Our Polyvagal World," certain aspects left me wanting more. The exploration of mixed states, in particular, felt lacking in depth. I think they left some very interesting questions open and aren't even aware that they did. In fact, I found it to be such a glaring omission that I created podcast episodes around them.

Bewilderingly, the book even omits freeze and stillness from the now-official table of states. Freeze and Stillness are already part of the PVT, so I just don't see how these were missed by both authors and their editors.

The book has some lovely bits in it and some interesting discussion points. But also a major miss on the mixed states.

The Length and Structure of "Our Polyvagal World"

One aspect that can be perceived positively and negatively is the book's length. I personally appreciated its brevity, as it made for an easy and engaging read. However, others who prefer more in-depth content may find it lacking.

The book has 203 pages. However, part of those 203 pages is an unnecessary glossary. No, seriously. It's not needed. The book is written for a beginner, so it's already very approachable. And the glossary has words that don't even appear in the book. The 203 pages also have a short epilogue and acknowledgments. So the main book dwindles down to 183 pages. I seriously think they were padding the pages to make it longer.

Clarity of Voice of "Our Polyvagal World"

The book is written by two authors, Seth Porges and Dr. Stephen Porges, which occasionally creates confusion as to who is speaking. While it's apparent that Seth took the lead in writing the book, the occasional interjections from Dr. Porges can be distracting. Clearer attribution of the author's voices would have made for a more seamless reading experience.


In conclusion, "Our Polyvagal World" by Dr. Stephen Porges and Seth Porges is an overall enjoyable and educational read. The book provides valuable insights into Polyvagal Theory and its applications. Whether you are a newcomer to the theory or a Polyvagal nerd looking for fresh perspectives, there is something for everyone in this book.

While there are areas for improvement, such as the depth of exploration in certain topics and the clarity of voice, the book still merits consideration. I bought it for $14 even though I had an advanced copy already. So yeah, I think it's worth buying, especially for $14.

If you have already read "Our Polyvagal World," I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment on this blog post below!


Do you trust in your power to self-regulate?

woman resting in a flower meadow

Your body is compelled to self-regulate, but trauma stops this process. Do you trust that you have the innate power to self-regulate, release your trauma, and live more calmly, confidently, and connected?


Author Bio:

Justin Sunseri is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Coach specializing in trauma relief. He hosts the Stuck Not Broken podcast and is the author of the book Trauma & the Polyvagal Paradigm. Justin is a member of the Polyvagal Institute's Editorial Board.


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