165 episodes

45-minute conversations and investigations with today's leading thinkers, authors, experts, doctors, healers, scientists about life's biggest questions: Why do we do what we do? How can we come to know and love ourselves better? How can we come together to heal and build a better world?

Pulling The Thread with Elise Loehnen Elise Loehnen and Audacy

    • Education
    • 4.8 • 82 Ratings

45-minute conversations and investigations with today's leading thinkers, authors, experts, doctors, healers, scientists about life's biggest questions: Why do we do what we do? How can we come to know and love ourselves better? How can we come together to heal and build a better world?

    Where the Brain and Mind Meet (Karl Deisseroth, M.D., PhD)

    Where the Brain and Mind Meet (Karl Deisseroth, M.D., PhD)

    “What optogenetics does is it's an engine of discovery. It helps us identify what matters, what's causing things to happen in the brain. And we know now the cells and the connections make these powerful motivations and drives manifest. That opens the door to any kind of new treatment, right? If you know the cells, then you can look at the DNA and the RNA in those cells. You can see what proteins those cells are making, and that gives you clues for medication targets. You can say, okay, this cell has these proteins on its surface, that would give us an idea for a pill, for a medication that might act specifically on that cell that now we know for the first time is causal. It's not just correlated with, it's actually causing these symptoms or the resolution of these symptoms. And if we can now design a medication that targets that cell, we might have a treatment.”
    So says Karl Deisseroth, a psychiatrist, neuroscientist and bioengineering professor at Stanford. Karl is also the author of Projections: The New Science of Human Emotion, which is a beautiful revisitation and exploration of his time as a psychiatry resident, where he encountered all sorts of people who didn’t quite understand what was happening to their brains—and by extension their minds.
    In the book—and in our conversation today—Karl explores mania, autism spectrum disorder, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, psychopathy, and dementia, all in gorgeous prose. Karl runs a lab at Stanford that focuses on optogenetics, mind-blowing science that can pinpoint where adaptive and maladaptive behaviors begin in the brain. He’s won the Kyoto Prize and Heineken Prize for his research, which is not surprising—it just might change the entire world of psychiatry.
    Today’s conversation is far-ranging and it’s also surprising, including a conversation about how some of these disorders—like eating disorders, which can be deadly, can also be strangely adaptive. Please stick with us. 

    MORE FROM KARL DEISSEROTH, M.D., PhD:
    Projections: The New Science of Human Emotion
    Follow Karl Deisseroth on Twitter

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    • 53 min
    To Transcend and Include (Ken Wilber)

    To Transcend and Include (Ken Wilber)

    “All growing up stages are the product of scientific investigation of the stages of growing up that people go through. And those are all defined in third person terms because they're the person or thing being spoken about. When we talk about the archaic stage or the magic stage or the mythic stage, if you look within right now, you can't see any of those stages. As a matter of fact, before we had this conversation, you had no idea that you had all these six to eight stages of growing up that you will go through. You didn't know anything about those because you can't see them. They're not first person or even second person phenomena. They're third person, the person or thing being spoken about.”
    So says Ken Wilber, whose work and intellect is difficult to describe. Throughout a long career—and the authoring of 20 books, including A Brief History of Everything, Grace and Grit, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, and The Religion of Tomorrow, Wilber has put together what is essentially a synthesis of every psychological model of development. In fact, he locked himself away for years, writing every model down on pieces of yellow legal paper, and then knit them all together. I’ve written about Wilber’s work at length in my newsletter, which is also called Pulling the Thread—I’ll put links in the show notes—and I talk about his work on this show as well. Most recently, I talked about Ken Wilber with Nicole Churchill in our conversation about Spiral Dynamics. Wilber is a Spiral Dynamics wizard, though he uses it in aggregate with the work of other developmental thinkers, integrating the work of luminaries like Carol Gilligan, Robert Kegan, and others. 
    In today’s conversation, we talk about Wilber’s brand new book, Finding Radical Wholeness, which explores the five big processes we all undertake in our lives. In today’s conversation, we mostly talked about two: Waking Up and Growing Up, which are often conflated. Wilber makes the case for why they are unrelated processes—and the essential nature of the latter. While Waking Up, or having a Satori experience is wonderful—and something that 60% of people report—we all need to grow up. Wilber and I spend most of today’s conversation talking about our political environment from the standpoint of developmental psychology: Why we’re so fractured, and what it will look like when the Integral Stage becomes the leading edge of culture and we learn how to include and transcend. I think this is fascinating, and reassuring, and excellent context for a moment that feels so out-of-control.

    MORE FROM KEN WILBER:
    Finding Radical Wholeness
    A Brief History of Everything
    Sex, Ecology Spirituality
    Trump and a Post-Truth World
    The Religion of Tomorrow
    Grace and Grit
    More books from Ken Wilber

    More from Pulling the Thread Podcast:
    “The Basics of Spiral Dynamics” with Nicole Churchill
    “Our Collective Psychological Development” with John Churchill

    More from Pulling the Thread Newsletter:
    Transcend and Include
    Embracing Nondual Thinking
    Right Doing
    Ascending and Descending
    States vs. Stages

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    • 1 hr 20 min
    Working with the Divine (Nicole Avant)

    Working with the Divine (Nicole Avant)

    “I really think that the past, we can go back to it and we definitely learn lessons because I'm always a hindsight person. So in hindsight, I'm always thinking that, okay, what could I have done better? But the past experiences for me, I've learned as I've gotten older, is to grab the lesson. And hopefully there's a blessing in there too. And then move on. I used to stay stuck in the past and try to understand why, why, why, why, why I would spend so much time, Elise, that I'm never getting back or why did this person do that? Why did this happen? Why did they treat me this way? And really try to unpack all of their baggage. And what I've learned is the “why” doesn't even really matter. It's, you know, what is the lesson for me? What is the lesson for my soul that I need right now?”
    So says Nicole Avant, a philanthropist, filmmaker, and former diplomat. In her recent memoir, Think You’ll Be Happy, Nicole describes attending to the grief and shock of her mother’s unthinkable murder—she was shot in the back by a home intruder in 2021—by creating a living legacy in her honor. Her mom, Jacqueline Avant, had turned her Los Angeles home into a refuge for artists, politicians, and world-changers as the partner to Nicole’s father, entertainment mogul Clarence Avant, who is the subject of Nicole’s beautiful documentary,The Black Godfather. Nicole grew up sitting at the feet of extraordinary artists like Bill Withers, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, Sidney Poitier watching as her parents navigated the world to make it better for future generations. In today’s conversation, we talk about that legacy—as well as Nicole’s relationship to the divine. Like her parents, she is a master connector—putting people together to see what unfolds.

    MORE FROM NICOLE AVANT:
    Think You’ll Be Happy: Moving Through Grief with Grit, Grace, and Gratitude
    The Black Godfather, on Netflix
    Follow Nicole on Instagram

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    • 49 min
    Recovering Our Ability to Feel (Prentis Hemphill): TRAUMA

    Recovering Our Ability to Feel (Prentis Hemphill): TRAUMA

    “I think we need each other. I say this all the time, there are some things that are too big to feel in one body. You need a collective body to move them through. And I think that's what we need. We need to come together in spaces to heal, not just to consume together or to watch a movie together, but to feel together and to have human emotion in real life, in public and act from the place of a feeling body, to choose action from a feeling body and not just a reactive or a numb body, but a body that feels, a body that can connect. What kind of actions do you take in the world from that kind of body? I think it's different.”
    So says Prentis Hemphill, therapist, embodiment facilitator, and author of the just-released, What it Takes to Heal: How Transforming Ourselves Can Change the World. In today’s conversation—the final in a four-part series—we explore a path to putting ourselves, and the collective, back together, and how this begins with a visioning…but a visioning born from getting back in touch with how we actually feel. I loved their book—just by reading along with Prentis’s own path to re-embodiment, I found myself finding similar sensations in my chest, back and heart. In today’s conversation, we talk about somatics, yes, but also about conflict—and what it looks like to become more adept with our emotions in hard times. This is one of my favorite conversations I’ve had to date on Pulling the Thread—I hope you enjoy it too.

    MORE FROM PRENTIS HEMPHILL:
    What it Takes to Heal: How Transforming Ourselves Can Change the World
    Prentis’s Website
    The Embodiment Institute
    Follow Prentis on Instagram

    RELATED EPISODES:
    PART 1: James Gordon, M.D., “A Toolkit for Working with Trauma”
    PART 2: Peter Levine, Ph.D, “Where Trauma Lives in the Body”
    PART 3: Resmaa Menakem, “Finding Fear in the Body (TRAUMA)”
    Thomas Hubl: “Feeling into the Collective Presence”
    Gabor Maté, M.D.: “When Stress Becomes Illness”
    Galit Atlas, PhD: “Understanding Emotional Inheritance”
    Thomas Hubl: “Processing Our Collective Past”
    Richard Schwartz, PhD: “Recovering Every Part of Ourselves”

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    • 51 min
    The Myth of Resilience (Soraya Chemaly)

    The Myth of Resilience (Soraya Chemaly)

    “This is the richness of the traditional wife explosion, right? There's this simple idea that you get to choose. Now you're choosing to emulate a situation that's a fiction in that those women didn't choose anything. They had to dress like that. They had to live like that. They had to be nice to the men like that, because they had no bank accounts. They had no cars. They had no licenses. They had no income. They had no security. So, don't equate these two things because you're just kind of living a dignified version of something that was pretty egregiously harmful, you know. And it's the difference, I think, in knowing that you have an option.”
    So says Soraya Chemaly, an award-winning writer, journalist and activist whose work has been at the center of mine. Her now-classic, Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger lit me on fire—not only for the deftness of her arguments but also because she is a meticulous researcher. What she gave air to in the pages of that book blew me away. She figures prominently in the endnotes of On Our Best Behavior.
    Her new book, The Resilience Myth: New Thinking on Grit, Strength, and Growth After Trauma, follows a similar path. Soraya takes something we’ve been served as an ideal—develop resilience—and flips it on its head, both widening and undermining this definition. She challenges our cultural myths about this concept and urges us all to shift and expand our perspective on the trait, moving from prioritizing the role of the individual to overcome and conquer to focusing on what’s really at work, which is collective care and connections with our communities. As she proves in these pages, resilience is always relational. 

    MORE FROM SORAYA CHEMALY:
    The Resilience Myth: New Thinking on Grit, Strength, and Growth After Trauma
    Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger
    Follow Soraya on Instagram
    Soraya’s Website

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    • 58 min
    Finding Fear in the Body (Resmaa Menakem): TRAUMA

    Finding Fear in the Body (Resmaa Menakem): TRAUMA

    “Here's what I would say: peace will happen when people invest in cultivating peace as opposed to war. Peace will happen. And one thing I know, for me, I know peace, I know I will never see it, but maybe I can put something in place to where I leave something here and my children's, children's, children's grandchildren can nibble off of and feed on what I've left here the same way I feed off of Frederick Douglass's stuff.”
    So says therapist and social worker Resmaa Menakem, author of the New York Times bestseller My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies and originator of the Somatic Abolitionist movement. I met Resmaa many years ago, when he was one of the few voices in this space—Resmaa calls himself a communal provocateur and this is true, as his work challenges all of us to recognize and acknowledge that we’re scared. And that much of this fear is ancient. We were supposed to talk today about trauma in relationships, but our time together took a different turn—Resmaa jumped at the opportunity to put me in my familial and familiar fear. It’s hard, or at least it was for me, but hopefully you’ll stick with us to see how this works. This is the third part of a series on trauma, and it won’t surprise you to hear that Resmaa also trained with Peter Levine.

    MORE FROM RESMAA MENAKEM:
    My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies
    Monsters in Love: Why Your Partner Sometimes Drives You Crazy—And What You Can Do About It
    The Quaking of America: An Embodied Guide to Navigating Our Nation’s Upheaval and Racial Reckoning
    Resmaa’s Website
    Follow Resmaa on Instagram

    RELATED EPISODES:
    PART 1: James Gordon, M.D., “A Toolkit for Working with Trauma”
    PART 2: Peter Levine, Ph.D, “Where Trauma Lives in the Body”
    Thomas Hubl: “Feeling into the Collective Presence”
    Gabor Maté, M.D.: “When Stress Becomes Illness”
    Galit Atlas, PhD: “Understanding Emotional Inheritance”
    Thomas Hubl: “Processing Our Collective Past”
    Richard Schwartz, PhD: “Recovering Every Part of Ourselves”

    To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: https://www.audacyinc.com/privacy-policy

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 47 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
82 Ratings

82 Ratings

Kelly Linehan ,

My favourite host and podcast

I start a lot of sentences with “on this podcast I listened to…” because Pulling the Thread always gets me thinking. I’m a newly Registered Psychotherapist and I owe a lot of that career inspiration to Elise Loehnen. Her incredible and vulnerable interview style with such fascinating guests opened my eyes to the incredible world of psychology. If you love thinking more deeply about who you are and think there’s more to this mystical life than meets the eye, this will be your new favorite show. Ps. Her book is amazing too. Highly recommend **

Samira🩷 ,

Shining a light on our minds

Thank you for shining a light on the complexities of the mind, including real stories on people who experience psychosis, psychiatric illnesses and more.

windhorsehealing ,

Grateful

I am so grateful for the intelligent, inspiring, deep conversation I get to be a part of when I listen to “pulling the thread” so grateful for the wisdom that is shared. Elise is brilliant and has a magically way of combining extreme preparation, research and intelligence with compassion and deep feeling.
So grateful to be able to tune in to these thoughtful episodes.
Many heartfelt thanks 🙏🏼 #keepgrowing

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