Friday, May 4, 2018

Parasympathetic Backlash

Book #2 is tentatively titled: Fear and Fight: Understanding Our Natural and Learned Responses to a Threat. It integrates the theories of fight-or-flight, stress, emotion, and cognition in order to develop a survival process model that can be used to explore and explain our natural and learned responses to a threat. Our learned responses are in fact interventions in the survival process.

At the same time as I was researching and writing this book, I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder. The mechanism responsible for these disorders is the same one responsible for our natural responses to a threat, therefore, I have a unique perspective as I have the opportunity of studying it from the inside and out.

Grossman explains how soldiers often fall asleep after battle not through exhaustion but due to a 'parasympathetic backlash.' In the heat of battle the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) is activated due to the emotions of fear, anger, or excitement being experienced. Immediately the action is passed the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest) is activated to counter the SNS symptoms and a return to homeostasis.

Emotion is all about homeostasis.

The other night, I experienced my own parasympathetic backlash. We moved house, a stressful event for most people but an absolute nightmare for someone suffering anxiety. Heightened anxiety, panic attacks, nausea, vomiting, trembling, narrowed cognitive and reasoning abilities, the works. That was extended because our property managers are attempting a 'cash grab' by using our security bond money to landscape the property garden.

I obsessively commenced a campaign against the property managers, and I do mean obsessive. However, when we received the final property condition report and security bond disposal documentation which revealed a lot less than I thought was going to be retained my anxiety dissipated. It is then that I can see how much the anxiety takes over my body and mind. That night I virtually passed out in front of the television at 7.30. Unheard of. It was a parasympathetic backlash experienced after my battle was over and the threat removed.

The final chapter in my book applies the information used to understand our natural and learned responses to a threat to anxiety with the aid of my own experience. My parasympathetic backlash experience will make its way into that chapter.

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