Tag Archives: Feel Safe

Can New Drug Treatment Induce Memories And Feelings Of Safety In PTSD Sufferers?

An experiment carried out at the University of Puerto Rico (Quirk et al.) on rats has shown that administering a drug directly into their brains can induce in them a sense of safety in a situation in which they were previously fearful.

Brief Summary If Experiment :

Rats can be conditioned to fear the sound of a particular tone (the fearful response takes the form of the rats ‘freezing’ )if, each time the tone is sounded, the experimenter administers to them an electric shock (this works through technique known as classical conditioning).

However, this conditioned, fearful response to the same tone can be extinguished / eliminated if it is then sounded a sufficient number of times during which, now, when the rats hear it, they are NOT administered with an electric shock (this is known as ‘extinguishing training’).

It was also found that the extinguishing of the rats’ fear response to the sound of the tone is NOT due to their fear memory / memory of the electric shocks being wiped out, but, instead, due to a NEW MEMORY OF THE SOUND’S (NOW) SIGNALLING OF SAFETY (i.e. NO ELECTRIC SHOCK ADMINISTERED WHEN TONE IS HEARD) BEING  CREATED.


Crucially, the researchers involved in the study found that, instead of the rats needing to go through this extinguishing process / training to stop them feeling fearful (freezing) in response to the tone being sounded, but, instead, feeling safe in response to it, the same effect can be obtained by administering a drug (the drug used was a protein, brain-derived neurotrophic that helps the brain’s neurons to grow) directly into the rats’ brains.

In other words, it seems that the researchers involved in the experiment have found a way to pharmacologically (i.e. through the use of a drug), CREATE IN THE RATS’ BRAINS A MEMORY OF SAFETY.


The hope is that research like the above will help with the development of drugs which can be given to humans in order to help create feelings and memories of safety in individuals who are suffering from PTSD, a condition which, in the absence of effective treatment, can completely incapacitate and ‘paralyze’ sufferers with unremitting, intense feelings of fear and terror.



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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

How Childhood Trauma Can Cause Hypervigilance And Treatments


What Is Meant By Hypervigilance?

A person who is hypervigilant feels constantly ‘on edge’, ‘keyed up’ and fearful. S/he experiences a perpetual sense of dread and of being under threat despite the fact, objectively speaking, there is no present danger. Indeed, the person affected in this way is so intensely alert to, and focused upon, any conceivable imminent danger that s/he may develop paranoia-like symptoms and frequently perceive danger in situations where no such danger, in reality, exists.

Nervous System :

In physiological terms, the nervous system becomes ‘stuck’ in an over-activated state and it is very difficult for the hypervigilant individual to calm him/herself sufficiently to enable it to return to a normal level of activation ; instead, it becomes locked into the ‘fight or flight’ mode (the hypervigilant person’s body is in a continuous state of preparedness to fight or flee because of the anticipation of threat the person feels).

Hypervigilance, Hyperarousal, Childhood Trauma And Complex PTSD :

Hypervigilance is one of the many symptoms of hyperarousal.

Hyperarousal, in turn, is a symptom of PTSD / Complex PTSD which are conditions linked to severe and protracted childhood trauma.

Other symptoms of hyperarousal may include :

  • insomnia (e.g. constant waking in the night and finding it hard to go back to sleep)
  • extremely sensitive startle response
  • problems with concentration and mental focus
  • abiding feelings of irritability and anger, perhaps giving rise to outbursts of extreme rage / verbal aggression, or, even, physical violence
  • constant anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • reckless behaviour
  • using short-term ‘solutions’ such as drinking too much alcohol or using street drugs to reduce painful feelings which, in the longer-term, are self-destructive

It is not difficult to see why the experience of childhood trauma should be linked to increased risk of develop hypervigilance as an adult : if we have lived our early life in an environment that made us feel constantly anxious, under threat and fearful, our very neural development (i.e. the development of our brain) can be adversely affected and it is such negative effects that can leave us so vulnerable and predisposed to developing the disorder, particularly at times when  our adult lives expose us to further stressful experiences.


Treatments for hypervigilance include mindfulness meditation, hypnotherapy, neurofeedback, yoga, breathing exercises and various trauma release exercises.


Overcome Hypervigilance | Self Hypnosis Downloads



You may also wish to read my related article; Symptoms Of Trauma And Their Relationship To Energy Trapped In The Body.

David Hosier BSC Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)