We have seen from many other articles that I have published on this site that significant and protracted childhood trauma can lead to physical damage being done to the development of a brain region known as the amygala, locking it into a state of over-activity.
This damage can lead to severe psychological and behavioral problems in our adult live, such as:
– an inability to control our emotions
– easily triggered outbursts of aggression/rage
– severe, debilitating anxiety
– intense feelings of fear/terror without obvious cause
This over-activity of the amygdala also frequently produces physiological symptoms of anxiety such as racing heart, hyperventilation, sweating, trembling etc. In other words, we get ‘stuck’ in fight or flight mode.
The amygdala evolved to increase our survival chances and reacts to fear-inducing stimuli at lightning speed.
Indeed, the amygdala responds to frightening stimuli before we are even consciously aware of why we are afraid – the response is automatic and NOT consciously willed.
This is because if our distant, primitive ancestors encountered dangers such as hungry tigers they needed to run away immediately rather than sit around deliberating whether or not it was completely necessary to do so.
The other way that the brain produces a response to fear is as follows:
The threatening stimuli in the form of sensory input is registered in the thalamus and this information is then relayed to the cortex.
However, this process is slower than the process involving the amygdala described in the above paragraph.
Harnessing The Power Of The Prefrontal Cortex :
Over-activity of the amygdala can be dampened down by another region of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex. Amongst other functions, the prefrontal cortex is involved in:
– reappraising problems and generating new solutions
By the use of hypnosis, we are able to harness the power of the prefrontal cortex so that it, in effect, ‘turns down’ activity in the amygdala and thus reduces feelings of fear and anxiety.
One technique which may achieve this goal is repeated self-hypnosis that induces visualization (remember, the prefrontal cortex is intimately involved in the mental process of visualization) of a ‘safe place’ in which one is completely protected from danger.
A second technique is that hypnosis can be used to help us reappraise our problems (again, the prefrontal cortex is closely involved in the process of reappraisal, as we saw above); for example, if we lose our job we may initially feel very disheartened; however, hypnosis can help us to positively reframe what has happened and to start viewing it from a positive perspective (e.g. focusing on the fact that by no longer having to do our previous job we now have the opportunity to retrain for something better, start our own business, or undertake studies as a nature student, perhaps in something we’ve always wanted to do).
Overcome Fear And Anxiety – click image below:
Improve Visualization – click image below:
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE); DHyp