Fear in large red letter on grunge background with blue sky and clouds peeking through hole.

Surrendering to Fear

The feelings of fear come from the reptilian part of the brain called the amygdala.  It is a behaviour the is instinctual.  It was instinct and instinct alone that made us search for food, shelter, and a suitable mate. Day by day year by year season by season the behaviours repeat because the instinct worked for our survival.   But what would happen if we experienced war, or an accident or a traumatic event or multiple events of some caliber, then how does the amygdala respond? In practice I call this a thinking mistake, I don’t like to say that the amygdala has it wrong cause it is all instinctual.  I like to think of it as misfiring the instinct to run fast, fight hard, or freeze quietly behind a bush. 

All mammals have the reptilian brain, amygdala and a higher structure called the limbic brain.  The limbic is the primary site for complex emotional and social behaviours which is one up from the reptilian. The limbic system receives the instinctual impulses from the reptilian then expands the information and can provide more choice than the reptile. In a healthy person, instinct, emotion, and intellect work together to create the widest range of choices possible in any given situation.

When we become misaligned and are not attuned to stimuli in the environment both externally and internally, we rely and employ the felt sense, which is instinctual.  When we are healthy and untraumatized, these instinctual responses add sensuality, variety, and a sense of wonder to our lives. When we have experienced trauma, we struggle to override what is instinct and not fight, run or freeze.

Continued on Blog #68

Have questions, ask me, info@mindhealthconnect.ca

Ref: Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine with Ann Fredrick

April 16, 2024
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