Limbic Resonance

DEFINITION (from wikipedia): Limbic Resonance is the capacity for sharing deep emotional states arising from the limbic system of the brain. These states include the dopamine circuit promoted feelings of empathic harmony, and the norepinephrine circuit originated emotional states of fear, anxiety and anger.


The concept was first advanced in the book A General Theory of Love (2000). It refers to the capacity for empathy and non-verbal connection that is present in animals, and that forms the basis of our social connections as well as the foundation for various modes of therapy and healing.

According to the authors (Thomas Lewis, M.D, Fari Amini, M.D. and Richard Lannon, M.D.), professors of psychiatry at UCSF, our nervous systems are not self-contained, but rather demonstrably attuned to those around us with whom we share a close connection.

Within the effulgence of their new brain, mammals developed a capacity we call ‘limbic resonance’ — a symphony of mutual exchange and internal adaptation whereby two mammals become attuned to each other’s inner states.”

WHY THIS MATTERS to COACHES – one of the primary objectives of coaching is to connect with clients, empathize, and synch up your energies. You can do this by…

  • Listening
  • Changing the speed and tone of your voice
  • Asking questions such as “how do you feel about __________”
  • Acknowledging pain and experience of your clients

ACTION STEPS – before coaching sessions, take a moment to revisit this concept of limbic resonance, the idea that you are going to share a deep emotional state with your clients, and that in itself can be a transformative experience.

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