Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Anxiety and Courage

I'm working on book #2 which is about understanding our natural and learned responses to a threat.

Our natural response to a threat is fear. Fear was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual. It is adaptive. However, with an anxiety disorder, fear becomes maladaptive.

The action tendency of fear is flight (or withdrawal). The military want fight. The go-to response for the military to overcome fear in war is courage.

Courage is most often defined in terms of acting in spite of fear.

I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder. Not pleasant to say the least, however, I use it to study the mechanism responsible for fear from the inside as well as outside.

I have the perfect storm going on. I am moving house and I have an anxiety condition. Anyone who tells you that anxiety is nervousness does not know what they are talking about. Anxiety can be debilitating, not allowing you to function. You can't breathe, you are petrified. Of what? Amygdala has identified a threat in the environment but does not necessarily tell neocortex what that threat is.

Back to courage. If courage is acting in spite of fear, and anxiety is fear of something that is not actually a threat, is acting in spite of something that is not actually a threat courage?

One of the chapters in my book looks at a paper on the strategic use of emotion to overcome fear in war. The first strategy is not actually a strategic use of emotion to overcome fear. It's the use of 'rational discourse,' but actually refers to distraction.

I put that strategy into action on Monday when I was having a panic attack. I watched the football game. It took a half of football before I could focus on the game, but it finally worked.

Another strategic use of emotion to overcome fear is the 'inculcation of hope.' I have studied hope and discuss it in my book. There is a calculus to hope. Hope = willpower to change something + waypower.

I operate on willpower and do not experience hope. Intellectually I know I can do something that I fear but that does not reach amygdala and so the emotion of hope is not elicited.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments make my work all the more relevant as I use them to direct my research and theorising. Thank you.