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Hypoarousal (Autonomic Nervous System)

refers to “arousal that is excessively under the lower edge of the window of tolerance [and is] associated with the inability to move, heaviness, numbness or emotions like despair or hopelessness or an absence of feelings” (Ogden & Fisher, 2015, p. 775).

Words associated with hypoarousal can include, as examples: “motionless, weak, still, powerless, unable to move; collapsed feeling, passive, can’t move quickly, unassertive; bored, spaced out, apathetic, lethargic, disconnected; emotionally flat, dull, numb, empty, dead; compliant, ‘don’t care’, disinterested, indifferent; depressed, despairing, unmotivated, bummed out, hopeless, discouraged” (Ogden & Fisher, p. 231); immobilized, dorsal vagal (pathway of parasympathetic nervous system) (Dana, 2018).




Dana, D. (2018). The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation. W.W. Norton & Company: New York.

Ogden, P. & Fisher, J. (2015). Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Trauma and Attachment. W.W. Norton & Company: New York.

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