The amygdalae are primitive structures part of the limbic system that determine whether your current situation is dangerous to survival or not. When the amygdalae perceive danger, they activate 3 neuro-pathway loops, which take the person out of a “rest and growth mode” into a “survival mode.”
These 3 neuro-pathway loops work together to (1) stimulate the body’s stress hormones, which make up the fight/flight/freeze/faint reaction, (2) heighten the brains reactivity and sensory organs, and (3) activate the thinking brain to logically evaluate the situation.
In other words, when your brain perceives stress, it is prompted to immediately react based on emotion, conditioned responses, and memories of past experience, before it is able to rationally assess the situation and make logical decisions to address it. Hence, it is a common human experience to make irrational/bad decisions, while not “seeing” the obvious solution to problems when under stress.
These neuro-pathways are so sensitive that they will fire whether the perceived danger is real or imagined.
For example, there are cases where people with allergies are triggered into severe allergic reactions although the allergen isn’t physically present. For instance, a woman with cat allergies allergically reacted to a cat’s meow heard from the television. In another case, a man with allergies to flowers allergically reacted to a bouquet of fake, paper flowers. In both examples, the amygdala interpreted the stimulus of the cat’s meow and the fake flowers as if they were real dangers and launched the body into an allergic reaction.
Most people have an overactive stress response, which constantly keeps them in survival mode preventing them from being in a state conducive to healing. This poor coping mechanism is the direct result of stress proneness due to genetic factors combined with accumulated suppressed/repressed negative emotions, thoughts, belief systems, and perceptions.
When the stress response continues long term, the body’s coping mechanisms begin to fail, leading to adrenal exhaustion and suppression of the immune system. Then, the body’s organs begin to show pathological changes to prolonged exposure to stress hormones. Eventually, the body’s energy stores become depleted, the disease process becomes activated, and the body deteriorates. Stress has been shown to be a principal precondition to disease and is linked to virtually every named illness!
A New Science of the Emotions
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