Understand your brain and understand your mind

In-Mentis Psychosynthesis describes how our brain can deal with and address certain unconscious reactions.

Things happen to all of us every day, but the way we deal with them depends on many different things. In our normal life, we are in a calm or active state. We are either relaxed (watching a movie or reading a book) or ready to act and do things (cooking or work). However, there are actions, events, movements, noises, locations, and / or images that can be put into alert mode. These signals can be interpreted by our nervous system as dangerous, a threat to our lives.

Three unconscious reactions

Stephen Porguez has developed a polybagal theory that explains these unconscious reactions. You can neither control nor rationalize them.

1. Fight or run away

This is the first reaction to a danger or threat. You can notice that you are fighting a situation or a person, or you can run away.

Muscles become tense, breathing and heartbeats become faster, sweating begins, the mouth becomes dry, and the limbs become cold. Digestion stops when all blood flows to the muscles in preparation for fighting or fleeing. You feel angry and afraid, you are not in a position to hear someone, and you cannot see how you are acting, talking, or screaming.

It is not rational because the prefrontal cortex may not be accessible. You can’t think of the consequences, you can’t control yourself.

2. Hyper Freeze

This is the second step in reacting to the threat. The danger is higher and you will find yourself in a position where you cannot fight, escape or enter mode. This is an unconscious evaluation. It is your nervous system that makes this decision.

When this happens, the muscles become stiff, freeze, hyperventilate, the heart becomes very fast, tachycardia occurs, the sweat gets cold, and the mouth dries. Your hands and feet are very cold or hot. Your intestines and bladder may sometimes evacuate unnoticed. You may be frightened and dissociate yourself. You are separated from yourself and your surroundings.

Your prefrontal cortex is probably inaccessible, so you can’t make a decision to move on from that situation. Even if it works, I can’t think of any solution or anything I can do.

3. Hypo freeze

In the face of the most threatening events in your life, you may have a hypofreezing reaction in your nervous system. This is so overwhelming that you are preparing for death. You give up.

The muscles relax, breathing becomes very shallow, and the heart beats very slowly. I have cold sweats, dry mouth, and cold hands and feet. You feel nothing, dissociate, there is a disconnect between your body and your brain, and your emotions do not reach your brain. It is impossible to connect with yourself, your surroundings, or the people around you.

You do not have access to your frontal cortex. In other words, there is neither a rational state nor the ability to think.

It’s personal

There are many situations in which you can find yourself in any of these states, but these situations are completely personal. In the same situation, one person’s nervous system may respond to a hyperfreeze response, while another may respond to an escape response, a fighting response, or even an active normal response. This depends on many factors. One of them is the social support we have before and at the moment when a traumatic event occurs.

We all believe that something must have happened to develop the trauma. However, trauma also did not happen and may have happened (support, understanding, protection, etc.). That’s why Dr. Gabor Mate says, “Trauma isn’t what happens to you, it’s what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you.”

Professional treatment helps

The first thing we have to do is to detect which situations cause us to experience these unconscious reactions and then try to avoid them as soon as possible. This is most often done through professional treatment. In most cases, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is inadequate and requires EMDR and mindfulness.

If you experience any of these reactions and would like to work on them, you can contact In-Mentis Psychosynthesis. They are here to help!

Understand your brain and understand your mind

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