#2 What Is Intimacy And Play?

So, for simplicity, try conceptualise mental illness as living within our Threat System (i.e. fight, flight, freeze, collapse). Think of depression as freeze; anger, anxiety, terror as fight or flight. Remember the Threat System is only intended for a real life and death threat. #HealingTrauma

So the two fundamental questions to ask are:

  1. Is this moment safe or dangerous?
  2. Is this moment real or my imagination?

We need to get good at telling the difference between danger vs safety. Between imagination vs reality. That’s pretty much it.

Marcelo Alegre Rubic teaching Filipino Martial Arts, Manila, Philippines.

A student said to his Master: You teach me fighting, but you talk about peace. How do you reconcile the two? The Master replied: It is better to be a warrior in the garden than to be a gardener in a war.

If the moment is dangerous, we will fight, flight (run), freeze or collapse to stay alive. The most important thing to do is get safe. If we think it is dangerous and it turns out to just be our imagination (i.e. anxiety; fear of something bad happening), remind yourself: “It is not real. There is nothing to do.”

When the moment is safe the Social Engagement System is for: peace, joy, love, compassion, blissfulness, ecstasy. Via:

  1. Intimacy.
  2. Play.
Intimacy (safety, stillness, low arousal, flip side of freeze).

Intimacy is “stillness” like freeze/collapse. Play is “movement” like fight/flight. The difference: safe vs danger in stillness vs movement.

How cool is that!? We can drop the labels (i.e. I’m Depressed). Rather, check danger vs safety – Threat System vs Peace System – where we are determines what we need. If depression is freeze, stillness, low arousal, then try intimacy: like music, a hug.

“Awareness is life. Life is awareness. There is no other way to be.” – Sadhguru

If anger, anxiety, terror is fight/flight, movement, high arousal, try play: running it off, kick boxing. Notice what won’t work due to intensity of arousal: i.e. freeze (low) cannot immediately play (high), fight/flight (high) cannot immediately do intimacy (low). So cool.

Crack the code: Where am I? Threat System? Peace system? Is there danger? Is this moment safe? Is this real? Or my imagination? Where exactly am I: fight, flight, freeze? For collapse you won’t be awake. Can I switch fight/flight to play? Freeze to intimacy? You can try.

Intimacy: connecting deeply with life or someone, including yourself, in this moment, in stillness, such as: “Be thankful (i.e. gratitude) to feel (i.e. empathy) right here right now (i.e. mindfulness), or a book, nature, friend, lover, pet, music, movie, rest.

Intimacy (safety, stillness, low arousal, flip side of freeze)

“The way people are living today, I would say, never do unto others what you do unto yourself.” – Sadhguru

Play: deeply connecting with life or someone, including yourself, in this moment, in movement, such as cooking, cleaning, working, helping, volunteering, creating, campaigning, entertaining, yoga, martial arts, dance, games, sports, science, technology, arts, anything.

Play (safety, movement, high arousal, flip side of fight/flight)

“I am just interested in life. Whatever and wherever, I am inevitably involved.” – Sadhguru
Source: What Is Intimacy and Play was inspired by Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory (1994). https://www.stephenporges.com

Now you know the power of Trauma Informed Care. Let’s turn this framework into a mindset for personal, social and political change. If you are unable to, you might need help first, to get safe or become ‘unstuck’ from trauma. Reach out for trauma informed care. #YouBelong

With love,

Dr Louise Hansen
PhD in Psychology
Human Rights Activist

#HealingTrauma #Justice4Australia #WeAllBelong

John Denver – Annie’s Song (1974):

“You fill up my senses
Like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again

Come, let me love you
Let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter
Let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you
Let me always be with you
Come, let me love you
Come love me again

Let me give my life to you
Come, let me love you
Come love me again

You fill up my senses
Like a night in a forest
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again.”


Dedicated to Andrea Waugh.



“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
“Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of support we received overnight! We’re able to fund one more Indigenous Psychology student for a full three year Psychology degree from just a 10 minute appearance on ABC #TheDrum.” – Dr Tracy Westerman AM

If you would like to donate, please visit:

My partner Marcelo Alegre Rubic who taught me do not let anyone control your life. #YouBelong

Trauma Informed World was inspired by Kopika and Tharnicaa; two faces that remind us everyday of Australia’s cruel refugee system. One of many systems in Australia that remind us of the negative operation of power. #HomeToBilo

Kopika (left) and Tharnicaa (right) were kept at Christmas Island Detention Centre for nearly two years despite trauma informed calls to return them to Biloela, Queensland. Tharnicaa has spent most of her life detained by the Australian Government and is still in community detention to this day. #YouBelong
Trauma Informed World respects and acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of the land and waterways on which this educational resource was inspired. I acknowledge and respect Elders past, present and emerging. I honour the continuation of educational, cultural and spiritual practices and celebrate the extraordinary diversity of people and relationships worldwide. This website contains images of deceased persons. There are also swear words in some of the songs presented that portray intense emotions. This website is not intended to trigger people who have experienced trauma. However, if you do find any of the content triggering, each page has a link to Australia’s National Helplines and Websites for immediate mental health support. These are my own personal views and comments and may not reflect the views of my employer.

Australia’s National Helplines and Websites:


To provide the best information possible, Beyond Blue has listed national helplines and external services. All services linked to Beyond Blue are reviewed before they are posted.

Published by Dr Louise Hansen

This is a free educational website on Trauma Informed Care for survival and wellbeing. While each injustice differs, all stories share the same trauma: the negative operation of power. Let’s break the cycle of injustice and trauma together one day at a time. The byproduct of clarity is peace. Joy is peace dancing. Trauma is disconnection. Empathy fuels connection. Knowledge is power: “Love is the absence of judgment.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama. #YouBelong

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