A Gut Feeling About Serotonin

There is a general understanding that well-being and serotonin are involved together. Just how they are involved is intricate and little understood. What understanding there is, is probably badly distorted by drug company marketing metaphors masquerading as physiological theories.

But hear this! Ninety percent of all serotonin is made in the gut. That is where the name comes from, one of the functions of serotonin is toning the serosa. The Reich and Lowen tradition has always emphasized ‘having guts’ as a foundation for satisfying person-hood. There is a connection between well-being and having guts. Serotonin is also involved in disgust, nausea, and vomiting. All anti-nausea medicines (anti-emetics) are serotonin blockers.

It is a classic Lowenian exercise to drink and then throw up a small amount of water in the morning. This helps with loosening of the throat, but also brings some good feeling at the end. (All bulimics have found this out, but bulimia is immensely more complicated than this). The good feeling comes partly from stimulation of the vagus nerve and afferent impulses into the brain, but possibly also partly because of serotonin production.

Alexander Lowen always deplored the practice of children being forced to eat what they did not want to. He felt it was designed to break their spirit. Perhaps this is how it works: When children are forced to eat what disgusts them, they must ignore their own disgust. Quite possibly, their bodies down-regulate serotonin production as an innate anti-emetic. This lowered serotonin tendency, in the gut and perhaps also in the brain, translates in later life into a lessened self-hood, and a tendency toward depression.

The most disdainful, dominating, insult is “Eat shit.” For humans, shit is the most disgusting substance to eat. To actually do so requires such an immense negation of disgust that it is almost unimaginable without a gun pointed at one’s head. Folk wisdom seems to understand that being forced to eat what disgusts one, diminishes the capacity to stand up for oneself and be assertive.

Michael Samsel

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2 Responses to A Gut Feeling About Serotonin

  1. Vacosti says:

    Is it possible that a strong and chronic sensation of emptiness in the gut arises from lack of serotonin? This sensation/feeling is destroying me. it is present for about two years. Thank you

    • mjsamsel says:

      I certainly think the two are likely related. In the are of body and emotional regulation, cause and effect is a too simple format. I think that in general, the best approach to this emptiness is work on core and grounding, with real studio pilates, and Lowen’s bioenergetic exercises.

      Michael Samsel

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