160 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 • 716 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?

    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”

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    • 47 min
    Take Back Your Brain (Kara Loewentheil)

    Take Back Your Brain (Kara Loewentheil)

    “There are studies showing that, once your basic needs are met, and you're not worried about losing your house, losing your health care, increases in money don't significantly increase happiness, right? So I think, you know, money helps alleviate the very real biological primitive fear of you're gonna die if you don't have shelter and food and in our society, healthcare, but when it comes to things beyond that, I think that we have been sold the lie that money creates security and it's a natural conflation because at a certain point for securing the necessities,and it makes other problems easier to solve also clearly, but emotionally, money is not the solution to an emotional problem any more than food or having a certain kind of body or being married or not married.” 
    So says Kara Loewentheil, author of Take Back Your Brain: How a Sexist Society Gets in Your Head—and How to Get it Out. While Kara and I went to college together, I first met her when she was gracious enough to have me on her hugely successful podcast, UnF*ck Your Brain, where I obviously fell in love with…her brain. Kara is theoretically an unlikely life coach—she graduated from Harvard Law School, litigated reproductive rights, and ran a think tank at Columbia University before deciding that she wanted to go upstream and rewire our culture’s brain instead. 
    Kara is fixated on what she calls the “Brain Gap” in women—the thought patterns so natural to women that keep us feeling anxious and disempowered. It’s in that “Brain Gap” that we continue to both unconsciously support and re-enact a culture that doesn’t do great things for women. My work and Kara’s work are very aligned. In fact, Take Back Your Brain: How a Sexist Society Gets in Your Head—and How to Get it Out is a cousin to On Our Best Behavior—one that’s written with actionable insights, by a life coach, for getting to the root of the problem.

    MORE FROM KARA LOEWENTHEIL:
    Take Back Your Brain: How a Sexist Society Gets in Your Head—and How to Get it Out
    Kara’s Website: The New School of Feminist Thought
    Kara’s Book Website
    Kara’s Podcast: UnF*ck Your Brain
    Follow Kara on Instagram

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    • 53 min
    Where Trauma Begins (Peter Levine, Ph.D): TRAUMA

    Where Trauma Begins (Peter Levine, Ph.D): TRAUMA

    “There are therapies where the person is made to relive their traumas over and over and over again. It's called flooding. And that's the one type of therapy that I do not agree with. I think it, not all the time, but it can be harmful, again, in somatic experiencing, we titrate the experience, we touch into a sensation in our bodies that have to do with the trauma, but just touch into it, and then notice the shift to a higher level of order, a higher level of coherence, a higher, greater level of flow. To go from trauma to awakening and flow is really, I think, what healing is all about."
    So says Peter Levine, PhD. If you’ve read or heard anything about trauma, you likely know Peter’s name, as he’s the father of Somatic Experiencing, a body-awareness approach to healing trauma that’s informed the practice of almost every trauma-worker today. Levine is a prolific writer—his international best seller, Waking the Tiger, has been translated into twenty-two languages—though much of his work has been for fellow academics and teachers. He’s just published a new book, An Autobiography of Trauma: A Healing Journey, which is highly accessible for all of us. It’s a beautiful book that recounts how he came to understand the somatic experience of trauma through an event in his own childhood—and the scientists and cultures he encountered along the way that informed what ultimately became a world-changing protocol. Today’s conversation explores all of this—including some very surprising appearances by Einstein.

    MORE FROM PETER LEVINE, PHD:
    An Autobiography of Trauma: A Healing Journey
    Waking the Tiger: The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences
    Trauma & Memory: Brain and Body in a Search for the Living Past
    In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness
    Somatic Experiencing International

    RELATED EPISODES:
    PART 1: James Gordon, “TRAUMA/Tools for Transforming 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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    • 47 min
    Choosing Wholeness Over Wokeness (Africa Brooke)

    Choosing Wholeness Over Wokeness (Africa Brooke)

    “In writing my book, I wanted to bring it back to the self because being online allows us to have this inappropriate level of audacity. And I think audacity is a very beautiful thing, but it gets so inappropriate online where you can go into Elise's messages and say, “by the way, I saw you liked this, you should be liking this, prove yourself to me”-- when the same person is probably not even able to have a conversation with their own partner in their home, but they can go online and demand people to say certain things, but in your home, are you that courageous to have a difficult conversation? Are you that courageous to have that same level of audacity in your day to day life. And I just worry that we're performing this very shadowy version of ourselves, especially online, without making any kind of effort in our everyday life to cultivate a strong sense of self, where you're able to handle conflict, where you're able to express disappointment to someone face to face and have a dialogue.”
    So says Africa Brooke, coach and author of The Third Perspective: Brave Expression in the Age of Intolerance. I’ve been smitten with Africa for years, after I was one of the 12 million-odd people who read her Instagram manifesto, “Why I’m Leaving the Cult of Wokeness” in 2020. There, Africa gave voice to being part of a culture that was supposed to be tented around diversity and inclusion, and yet, she found herself sounding and behaving in an increasingly intolerant way, a way that resisted diversity of thought. Originally from Zimbabwe, Africa lives in the U.K. and had already amassed a following for documenting her path to sobriety online—a path that anticipated the sober curious movement that’s become more mainstream today. She’s well-versed in spotting patterns and recognizing the way culture was working both on her and in her, in ways that were separating her from herself. 
    I loved this conversation, a conversation I was very excited to have—it’s a vulnerable one. I’m grateful to Africa for saying what needs to be said and conscious that more of us need to join her. As she explains, people quickly finger her as far-right—and the far-right would love nothing more than to co-opt her—but she’s more of a social justice advocate than ever. She needs people in the center, and people on the left to join her in pointing out how our cancel culture is, to use her term, actually “collective sabotage.” And how we abandon our highest principles when we turn on each other so quickly and make each other “wrong.” I think this conversation speaks for itself.

    MORE FROM AFRICA BROOKE:
    The Third Perspective: Brave Expression in the Age of Intolerance
    “Why I’m leaving the cult of wokeness”
    Africa’s Website
    Follow Africa on Instagram
    Africa’s Podcast: “Beyond the Self”
    Loretta Ross’s Episode: “Calling in the Call-Out Culture”

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    • 58 min
    A Toolkit for Working with Your Trauma (James Gordon, M.D.): TRAUMA

    A Toolkit for Working with Your Trauma (James Gordon, M.D.): TRAUMA

    “Now the tragedy, in one sense is a tragedy, that often people only become open when they've suffered horribly when that is both the tragedy of trauma, but also the promise. It's one thing to be trauma informed. It's another thing to inform our experience of trauma with some kind of courage and some kind of hopefulness for profound change. That's what's got to happen. If that can happen, then maybe out of all this contentiousness that is present in our 21st century United States, maybe something really good can happen, but we've got to pay attention, we've got to act on it, and take responsibility.”
    So says Dr. James Gordon, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist, former researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health and Chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy, and a clinical professor of psychiatry and family medicine at Georgetown Medical School. He’s also the founder and executive director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and a prolific writer on trauma. This is because he’s spent the last several decades traveling the globe and healing population-wide psychological trauma. He and 130 international faculty have brought this program to populations as diverse as refugees from wars in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Africa; firefighters and U.S. military personnel and their families; student/parent/teacher school shooting survivors; and more.
    I met Jim many years ago, and he’s become a constant resource for me in my own life and work, particularly because he packages so many of the exercises that work in global groups into his book Transforming Trauma: The Path to Hope and Healing. We talk about some of those exercises today—soft belly breathing, shaking and dancing, drawing—along with why it’s so important to address and complete the trauma cycle in areas of crisis. This is the first part of a four-part series, and James does an excellent job of setting the stage.

    MORE FROM JAMES GORDON, M.D.:
    Transforming Trauma: The Path to Hope and Healing
    The Center for Mind-Body Medicine
    Follow Jim on Instagram

    RELATED EPISODES:
    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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    • 1 hr 2 min
    The Complexity of Weight Loss Drugs (Johann Hari)

    The Complexity of Weight Loss Drugs (Johann Hari)

    “I realized I think there's a few things that are in our heads that are so deep in the culture. One of them is the idea that being overweight is a sin. It goes right back to if you look at Pope Gregory I in the 6th century when he first formulates the seven deadly sins, gluttony is there, it's always depicted with some fat person who looks monstrous, overeating. And how do we think about sin? If being overweight is a sin, we think sin requires punishment before you get to redemption. The only forms of weight loss that we admire are where you suffer horribly, right? You think about The Biggest Loser, that horrid, disgusting game show. If you go through agony, if you starve yourself, if you do extreme forms of exercise that devastate your body, then we'll go, he suffered. We forgive you. Well done. We'll let you be thin now, right?”
    So says Johann Hari, author of many bestselling books—Stolen Focus, Lost Connections, and Chasing the Scream. Johann is a fellow cultural psychic and his latest book—the subject of today’s conversation—bears this out. He takes on drugs like Ozempic and Mounjaro in Magic Pill: The Extraordinary Benefits and Disturbing Risks of the New Weight-Loss Drugs. He also writes about his own relationship to these drugs, as Johann is taking them. His book is a subtle and sensitive navigation of what is a tightly bound convergence of health and culture—and every page of his book anticipates and precedes the conversation. (As a disclaimer, I’m in it.) We talk about all  of it in today’s conversation, along with what would have happened if a woman had written this book first.

    MORE FROM JOHANN HARI:
    Magic Pill: The Extraordinary Benefits and Disturbing Risks of the New Weight-Loss Drugs
    Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again
    Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope
    Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs
    Johann’s Website
    Follow Johann on Instagram

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    • 1 hr 34 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
716 Ratings

716 Ratings

JGBeeson ,

Fast favorite!

This has quickly become my very favorite podcast! I’m a mom of 4, and two of my kids are severely disabled with very complex medical needs. Professionally I am a board certified behavior analyst and love everything I’ve heard and read with the amazing, bright and talented Elise Loehnen!! Thanks for giving this weary woman amazing content to think about and discuss with friends!

citizen times ,

Advancing thoughtful conversation

So grateful for this podcast - For bringing experts to lead us all in conversations that are required to heal us collectively and individually. Love it so much!!

Rainbow River ,

Very impressed

I’m very impressed with the complexities discussed and insights revealed through this Pulling the Thread!

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