The human nervous system is on a quest for safety

Our current crazy world has woken our need to be safe, so many of us are feeling defensive and using our metabolic resources to defend. It’s not just that we can’t be creative or loving, more importantly, when we are in a defensive state, we damage our immune systems and we can’t heal.

It all happens in the same neural pathway. The vagus nerve that carries information from the brain to the periphery of your body, to calm you down, let you know that you are safe is linked to the face. Our brain detects facial expressions, intonation and gesture, and makes a decision whether the engagement is safe or dangerous.

Masks increase our wary stressed state because we cannot detect normal facial expressions.

When people and in fact all mammals are in a situation where they cannot fight or flee effectively, they freeze – think the impala and the lion, think the mouse and the cat. So very abused women are often frozen… they partially shutdown and they reduce their pain to enable their survival. They cannot run in this state, they be unable to clearly say NO and they cannot easily leave their abuser.

It is also interesting that those who have experienced trauma are reported to often have difficulties in understanding the human voice where there are background sounds while also being hypersensitive to background noises". This is due to a deficit in neural tone in the middle ear muscles. This certainly applies to me.

The hearing thing is interesting. The harmonics necessary to detect consonants in speech do not get to the inner ear or the brain. They absorb more of the low frequencies that are associated with the danger and predator.

Yes, a lot of this article is directly relating to my own experiences as part of making sense and giving me more background to help my clients. And my experiences do add to what I learned when I was involved in research on neurophysiology many years ago.

When people and in fact all mammals are in a situation where they cannot fight or flee effectively, they freeze – think the impala and the lion, think the mouse and the cat.

We have had 18 months of an increased need for safety. This has had a huge impact on some people especially. We need to consciously increase our tolerance and to ask for help if we need it. We also need to understand what is going on.

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