Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dr. Connelly Guest Blog - Disassembling Anxiety

 By Dr. Jon Connelly

Anxiety is one of the most prevalent problems of our time. Anxiety happens when the body's protective responses to perceived threat are themselves perceived as a threat by the individual. This may include physiological changes experienced by the individual as bodily sensations and mental activity experienced as troubling thoughts. When someone is experiencing anxiety, she is likely to believe that her body's innate and protective responses to perceived threat are threatening rather than an indication that her body is getting stronger in preparation for flight or fight.

Further, when the individual experiences an emotional response, she is likely to attribute it to a situation. Perceived like this, the problem has two parts, the situation and the emotional response to that situation. There is another way to view the problem. The emotional response triggered by the situation associates with other similar emotional responses from past events. The mind automatically attaches meaning to events and the meaning attached to the event associates with similar meanings. Multiple factors, many below the level of conscious awareness, are combining to create the feeling or sensation. Instead of the problem only having two components, it has many multifaceted and complicated pieces. This is a good thing because the more complex it is the easier it will be to destroy.

Consider a clock that is intricate, multifaceted and quite complicated. If we remove one tiny gear, we have turned the clock into a dust catcher. When we remove one component of the troubling emotional response, separating it from the rest, the entire response will be disabled. Certain forces hold a cloth together. If we reverse these forces, the cloth will disassemble and disappear. Indifference is the anti-matter ray that will destroy the complex structure that has been required to support the troubling feeling or bodily sensation experienced by the individual.


1 comment:

  1. As an RRT practitioner, (and someone who experienced the powerful feelings of panic attacks during her 20s) I've been amazed that clients walk in terrorized by the panic they've been experiencing, and they leave laughing at their inability to connect with it anymore. I wish someone had known how to help me like this when I was younger. They didn't teach us anything useful to dissolve panic in Graduate School, and I've not found any other psychological system that clears panic. It's a privilege to do this work! Thank you, Dr. Connelly!