November 20, 2012

PTSD And Our Mind

Often we hear about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the news involving veterans but this condition affects many people. We also hear it mentioned but it’s frequently not defined. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as: a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

I was formerly diagnosed with PTSD five years ago due to child sex abuse from the hands of a pedophile. I was also diagnosed with depression and I struggled with my weight. Fast forward to present time and I am on no medications, I’ve lost over one hundred pounds, and I do not show any signs of PTSD or depression.

So what did it for me? I go into great detail about this in my book, When Jonathan Cried For Me, but I want to give an overview here and explain the road I took to success.

I briefly sought counsel through a psychiatrist, and that did help for a few weeks. It was liberating to discuss my childhood and my issues that stemmed from it (anger, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc.) to a third party. Getting to the root cause and working through the emotions of that cause is the first step to self-improvement.

But what really helped me advance through the abuse and my past is when I started studying the mind, quantum mechanics, and NLP (Neural Linguistic Programming) along with my own philosophies that I discovered along the way to true transformation.

Since PTSD is a mental condition, then what better way to battle it and take control of my life than to study the greatest super computer I will ever own; my mind.

Quantum mechanics helped me because it made me realize on a scientific level that energy is very real, and that our conscience thought controls energy, attracts energy, and energy is a large part of what defines us.

NLP helped me because it allowed me to learn techniques on how to reprogram my mindset and thought process. Often NLP is ridiculed thanks to many hacks, but many notable doctors and specialists recommend NLP.

Once I really understood how my programming worked, I could then begin to reprogram myself. For decades my past defined me, and then one day through my own program that I designed, I realized; I defined my past.

No longer was I bound by the shackles of tormenting memories, burdened by low self-esteem, anger issues, and depression. Since understanding the mind was an important step to me in my transformation, I want to breakdown the basics of the brain. I also want to reiterate that getting to the bottom of the root cause of my issues, and working through those emotions was a vital first step.

There are four parts of the brain that are imperative to understand in order to start changing our outlook and our mindset. From the book Gulp, by Gabriella Goddard, the brain can be described as the thalamus, or “the router”; the amygdala, or “the reactor”; the hippocampus, or “the relater”; and the neocortex, or “the rationalizer.” Let’s look at the main points of how the brain functions.

The hippocampus is the most important part when we reprogram ourselves. When something happens to us, whether positive like winning a million dollars in the lottery, or negative, like your partner blowing a million dollars in a card game, “the relater” kindly records this incident in a neuron. It also records the emotion or feeling that occurred during the incident. An example of this occurrence is when you smell something, and it triggers a memory, or similarly when you hear a song.

The hippocampus is also crucial to understand because scientists have discovered that it is possible to reprogram the emotions that reside in our neurons and tie us to these memories. This is a major key in the conditioning for our future and our better selves.

The next part of the brain we need to understand is the thalamus. The thalamus receives sensory information: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. It makes no judgment on the information, it just routes it to the amygdala, the “reactor” part of our brain. The amygdala is the center of our emotions. It reacts to stimuli from the senses and triggers a physiological response in our body. Our amygdala sends a S-O-S to our body, releasing adrenaline and other hormones into the blood to boost our heart, blood pressure, and respiration rates. Since our heart is now beating faster, it takes in more oxygen and nutrients. Our breathing then increases to bring more air to the lungs to fulfill the need for more oxygen. Our pupils dilate to bring in more light, and our hearing and smell sharpen to prepare for rapid response. Blood flow increases to the arms and legs, and the liver releases more glucose into the blood stream to boost the energy reserve. Our hands become clammy and sweaty. Our stomach stops digesting.

Now all this occurs with fear and even stressful situations or from a past memory that causes trauma like those suffering from PTSD. Anytime you face fear or trauma, this physiological affect happens. It’s great if you rob a bank and need to react to the guard who just came onto the scene and is about to shoot you. But it’s not great if you are on a date and become nervous, or if you are trying to sleep because you can’t get a financial trouble out of your head, or if your haunted by a past traumatic event.

This is a failure of emotional response control.

The last part of the brain we need to focus on is the neocortex, or the “rationalizer.” The neocortex helps us make solid and sound decisions based on the current incident we are dealing with. The problem with this actor is that it’s the last to receive information, and you can get the idea of where this leads.

We are programmed to react first.

So now let’s take a look at how these four parts of the brain tie together. When we receive information, in 12 milliseconds “the router” sends the information to “the reactor” part of the brain, which then immediately shoots it off to “the relater” part of the brain. Again, this is the pattern, and it is not biased for our needs.

Once we understand how our brain works, we can then begin to reprogram it. PTSD, depression, anxiety, and many more afflictions can make us feel like a prisoner of our own thoughts. That’s why it’s so important to understand the mind, study it, learn how to reprogram it, and take control of our thoughts, our emotions, and it’s time that we take control of our past; thus taking control of our future.

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