Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stress and the Reptilian Brain Function

See if you recognize these traits in you:

  • Before you were able to do yoga, meditate, do sports… but since some time you can not focus on these hobbies anymore
  • You have a lot to deal with at work but also privately
  • There has been recently a few big changes and / or traumatic experiences… (can be even mild ones)
  • You feel at an edge
  • You closing yourself off from the outside world although in general you are a social outgoing person
  • You’ve been experiencing back- or neck pain… or pains there where you know you have a weak spot (caused through a previous injury)
  • Your workload is not getting less and feel difficult to handle it all even though before you were coping just fine

The list can go on but these are just a few examples of symptoms, feelings and observations at least three of my clients have presented me with in the last 6 weeks when I took the anamnesis. I want to use their situation to describe a pattern I found in their condition. Although the three cases are unrelated and their stories were different it became clear that when two of them had their 2nd visit some of the symptoms described here above had gone. One session it had taken them to be in a different mode. One session at a time when one client said he was ready. He had reached a peak of now I need to do something about it… and landed in my osteopathy practice.

Clinically the three cases had amongst other lesions one in common a cranio-sacral compression, which had an impact on their Body, Mind & Spirit functioning. Thinking a bit beyond the boundaries and trying to integrate the story in the osteopathic lesion I came to realize that this also could be seen as a reptilian brain mal-function. The brain is made up of three parts (triune brain) the neocortex, which is the area where we think, the limbic system where we relate the past experience and the reptilian or oldest brain, which is the survival (fight & flight) brain.

This reptilian brain is in action when, for example, we touch a hot stove, the reflex is instant. Reptilian brain is all about our survival and will also shut all auxiliary systems down when we are in a situation when our survival is at stake… when our boat has capsized and we’re lying in cold water for hours.

It also seems that emotional shocks, or heavy stress can cause the reptilian brain to go in overdrive and shut out reason shut out all that is auxiliary into our life… what is not important to our primary survival… Our unconscious self is in alarm modus and anything that comes over as threatening will cause more stress and exhaust our whole system causes pain, anxiety, rage, anger, being easily irritated, lack of focus, withdrawal,…

So when you are in this R-mode do you think meditation, yoga or sports are possible? You’re body is fighting for its survival no way has it time for extra-curicular activities!

I can at least say that the two clients that came for their second visit had came out of this R-mode and started to be able to use their triune brain again. The treatment they received had allowed them to become whole again and function with their full capacity. Or as one client saysd it:” Although I know that I have still the same amount of challenges I know can observe them and say ok and react without over-reacting, what I would have done before.” In my words he can go again into acceptance, observe and let go… 'Reason' is again a player.

Hereby I would like to thank my clients for their confidence in my work and for the learning experience that they are giving me.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you believe you've suffered a panic attack, it's always wise to consult a physician. It serves two purposes; first is to rule out any other medical condition, and second is to have peace of mind that there is nothing seriously wrong with you that is causing the panic attacks.