How Your Amygdala Works

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How Your Amygdala Works

Postby ashley72 » Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:35 am

I wanted to post this article on how the Amygdala works.... I think its important to understand how this part of our brain works, because it explains why you can't rationally talk yourself out of irrational behaviours sometimes... and why "exposure" is the only cure in certain cases.

It was written by Dave Carbonell, Ph.D. at expert in this area.


How Your Amygdala Works

Always Watching

Your Amygdala is always watching, passively, in the background, for some sign of danger. When it sees one, true or false, it presses the "fight or flight" button and fills you with fear. When the danger is real, that's a good thing. But your Amygdala works like it's still 27,000 B.C., and will often make the mistake of seeing danger when there's none.

It Learns by Association, not Reason or Logic

When you run away from whatever the apparent danger is, the Amygdala stands down and goes back to quietly watching. If you ran away from a mugger, that's a good thing. But if you ran away from a grocery store, or a dog on a leash, that's a bad thing. Now your Amygdala will be conditioned to see the grocery store or the dog as dangerous, and will make you afraid next time you see one.

The Amygdala learns by association. It associates the crowded store, or the dog, with danger. It doesn't learn by conscious thought. This is why you can't simply talk yourself out of a phobia or anxiety attack. The fear memory is stored as a conditioned fear, and can only be relieved by more conditioning, not discussion or reason.

It only Learns When You're Afraid

The Amygdala only learns when it's fully activated, when it spots something it considers dangerous. It only forms new memories and associations, new lessons, when you've become afraid. The rest of the time it's on autopilot, passively watching.

Do you see what this means? If you stay away from what you fear, your Amygdala will keep on "believing" the same old mistakes, without a chance to learn anything new.

How Can You "Talk" to Your Amygdala?

Your Amygdala only learns from experience. If you flee the scene every time you have an anxiety attack, your Amygdala learns that you should leave to be safe.

How can you get your Amygdala to learn something new? You have to activate it by exposing yourself to a trigger that gets you afraid. If you have a dog phobia, that would be a dog. If you have anxiety attacks on subways (or highways), you need a subway (or a highway). And you need to stay there with that fear until it gets a lot lower.

That gives your Amygdala the chance to learn that it got all worked up about nothing. That way, it can learn that dogs (or highways) aren't the threat that it had been conditioned to believe. And, with repetition, it will develop a new memory, one that lets you get on with your life without being disrupted by phobias and anxiety attacks.
source >> http://www.anxietycoach.com/exposuretherapy.html


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Re: How Your Amygdala Works

Postby peas » Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:18 am

What's the difference between an Armygala and the pain body?
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Re: How Your Amygdala Works

Postby ashley72 » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:10 am

peas wrote:What's the difference between an Armygala and the pain body?


Good observation.

I started a thread on this very topic last November.

http://eckhart-tolle-forum.inner-growth.info/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=11964&hilit=+Amygdala

Basically Tolle's Painbody is his own analogy of the Limbic system composed of the amygdala, which activates in response to real threats or imagined threats, and floods you with some emotional pain (fear, worry, anger, revenge, resentment, etc) usually putting you in the mode of fight, flight, or freeze–a very unhelpful place to be.

Tolle Characterizes or analogizes the "Painbody" as a kind of living entity of energy that lives inside your body. If he had written in his book that it was merely an Amygdala hijack, this website wouldn't probably exist.... and he wouldn't have sold 5 million books and been on the best seller list. :lol:
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Re: How Your Amygdala Works

Postby peas » Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:12 am

ashley72 wrote:
peas wrote:What's the difference between an Armygala and the pain body?


Good observation.

I started a thread on this very topic last November.

http://eckhart-tolle-forum.inner-growth.info/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=11964&hilit=+Amygdala

Basically Tolle's Painbody is his own analogy of the Limbic system composed of the amygdala, which activates in response to real threats or imagined threats, and floods you with some emotional pain (fear, worry, anger, revenge, resentment, etc) usually putting you in the mode of fight, flight, or freeze–a very unhelpful place to be.

Tolle Characterizes or analogizes the "Painbody" as a kind of living entity of energy that lives inside your body. If he had written in his book that it was merely an Amygdala hijack, this website wouldn't probably exist.... and he wouldn't have sold 5 million books and been on the best seller list. :lol:


It was a question not an observation.

It's a stretch at best to call the pain body an analogy for the limbic system. This was best expressed in a post by Kutto in that forum you started:

kutto wrote:That the amygdala has a role in the feeling of fear is clear. It does not hold that it is the ultimate origin of the experience but rather it is used to express the idea of fear as experience in physical manifestation.
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Re: How Your Amygdala Works

Postby ashley72 » Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:57 pm

Yes, but you were observing an association, within the form of a question.

You saw a connection between the role of the Amygdala and Tolle's own analogy about painful emotions, otherwise you wouldn't have posed the question!

The amygdala doesn't just have a role in the physical feeling of fear. It also keeps a list of stored threats in its memory base and circumvents the cortex if and when these things are encountered. It can also trigger a response even just watching these threats play out in the mind or on a TV screen. This is why scary movies are so popular, lots of people love the thrill of being scared... Even though they not in any physical danger.
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Re: How Your Amygdala Works

Postby peas » Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:38 am

ashley72 wrote:Yes, but you were observing an association, within the form of a question.

You saw a connection between the role of the Amygdala and Tolle's own analogy about painful emotions, otherwise you wouldn't have posed the question!

The amygdala doesn't just have a role in the physical feeling of fear. It also keeps a list of stored threats in its memory base and circumvents the cortex if and when these things are encountered. It can also trigger a response even just watching these threats play out in the mind or on a TV screen. This is why scary movies are so popular, lots of people love the thrill of being scared... Even though they not in any physical danger.


An observation does not come from reading a few words. It requires closer attention. Until a few days ago, I had never heard of the amygdala. You could say I have observed one half of the question, being that I have paid close attention to the pain body.

I'm going to go out on a limb and ask a rather direct question. Do you want to go further than a scientific understanding of the amygdala?
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Re: How Your Amygdala Works

Postby ashley72 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:22 am

What you don't seem to understand is that a "pain-body" is merely Tolle's own analogy to describe what happens when a person has a strong emotional reaction to something perceived as threatening... Road Rage would be good example of triggering the Pain-body. Whereby someone feels threatened by another drivers actions. In the case of road rage, a person doesn't flee or freeze but fights aggressively towards the threat. This is because drivers tend to loose their inhibitions & feel more in control behind the wheel of a car... leading them to feel they can better defend themselves against a threat.

The scientific-cognitive equivalent analogy is an Amygdala hijack. Therefore, you've actually observing the same thing as a pain-body. You just didn't know the appropriate brain region that is implicated in such a loss of control.

Do I want to go further than a scientific understanding of Amygdala?

It's important to understand what's happening before exposure therapy begins. I've been actively applying theory into practice over the past year. So I've already gone further than merely a theoretical understanding.

The pain body is a phrase made famous by Eckhart Tolle, in his book "A New Earth". It essentially describes the pain body as an energetic parasite; an energetic ball of negativity that is inherited from our parents. It has its own innate intelligence - much like a virus, and like a virus, its primal instinct is survival. In order to survive the pain body must have fuel and its fuel just happens to be the energy from negative thoughts and emotions.

In those who have dense pain bodies, it will try its best to flood the mind with negative chatter and then feed on the ensuing reaction. A typical example is road rage. A seemingly mild mannered man turns into a foul mouthed and aggressive jerk when he is cut up in the flow of traffic. The pain body will feed on the surge of negative energy from this event.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2595502


Compare to this article piece on an Amygdala hijack

Because the amygdala helped the cave man survive, it remained as the brain grew and evolved. Today, it’s rare that we face an extreme emergency that requires the amygdale to spring into action, but it does so nevertheless. You’ve probably heard it called the “fight or flight response.” Road rage is one example of an out-of-control amygdala response to modern stress (fight). Feeling panicked at the lectern is another (flight). Cognitive scientists have another phrase for it: “emotional hijacking.”

Article source: http://www.thewritingreader.com/blog/ho ... hijacking/
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Re: How Your Amygdala Works

Postby peas » Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:49 pm

I appreciate your openness in our toing and froing. Keep open to the Universe and the Universe will surely open you up!
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Re: How Your Amygdala Works

Postby ashley72 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:28 am

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