The Emotion Hygiene Alliance's Framework was built upon eleven areas of paradigm-shattering science and philosophy. 

Polyvagal Theory

We have learned from Polyvagal Theory how primitive defense systems were recruited for “Social Engagement”. This banding together gave us mammals the opportunity to thrive far beyond each of our own individual capabilities; and created our individual dependency on social systems for our survival.


With this transition through evolution there was a change in our autonomic nervous system. Our autonomic nervous system changed from a system that was solely a system that enabled us to mobilize and enabled us to shut down, and could be used for, in a sense, two different types of defenses: one was to run and flee, and one was to basically immobilize, like a reptile. But with mammals, we had a new branch of the autonomic nervous system that basically was in one way the “cheerleader,” and in another way the “conductor” of these other two more primitive systems.  — Stephen Porges, Ph.D.


Attachment Theory

We have learned from Attachment science that in order for the defense systems to stand down and give way for such vital Social Engagement we need repeated experiences (→26 yrs), via our primary relationships, environment, and life experiences, of attuned connection and felt safety — a safe haven — as well as a secure base from which to explore.


Long before children have the language and conceptual tools to process experience, negative or even traumatic patterns of interaction are incorporated in the brain, the functioning of their psyche, and even in the molecules that control the expression of their genes... Another important implication of attachment research is that it's possible to develop a secure state of mind as an adult, even in the face of a difficult childhood. Early experience influences later development, but it isn't fate: therapeutic experiences can profoundly alter an individual's life course. — Drs. Alan Sroufe & Dan Siegel

ACEs, Toxic Stress Science

We have learned from ACEs Science how profoundly and pervasively these childhood experiences shape our brain, health, behavior, relationships, performance, and life trajectory. Because of the ACE study and hundreds of subsequent studies from around the world, we are starting to understand the immense lifelong impact that toxic stress has on health and well-being.


Childhood trauma increases the risk for seven out of ten of the leading causes of death in the United States. In high doses, it affects brain development, the immune system, hormonal systems, and even the way our DNA is read and transcribed. Folks who are exposed in very high doses have triple the lifetime risk of heart disease and lung cancer and a 20-year difference in life expectancy.

—Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California Surgeon General

Broaden and Build Theory

From Broaden and Build Theory, we have learned that positive emotions are not just nice rewards, but rather tools and resources that support not only social engagement, but also our individual current and future well-being.


The take-home message is that positive emotions are worth cultivating, not just as end states in themselves but also as a means to achieving psychological growth and improved well-being over time... Positive emotions help us feel better, do better, connect better, and they feel good.— Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D.


Contemplative Science

From Buddhist philosophy and contemplative scientific research, we have learned that emotion (mental+physical+social) hygiene shapes the brain and can offset the sometimes traumatic experience of being human.


If someone has a certain virus, we need to use the appropriate hygiene. Similarly, there's a hygiene of emotions. Just as we teach about physical hygiene in the interest of good health, we now need to teach about emotional hygiene. — The Dalai Lama

Additional Areas of Science & Philosophy

  • Social Neuroscience
  • Systems Thinking
  • Defense Cascade
  • Yogic Philosophy
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Health & Well-being


The Emotion Hygiene Alliance is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization

Behavioral Health Education