Metaphors / Desensitization / Voluntary Image Replacement
Where do the images that we see when we recall a memory come from? The answer here is the hippocampus for a lack of a more technical answer. The hippocampus is better described as hippocampi, two seahorse-shaped structures in the in the medial temporal lobe of the brain. Psychologists and neuroscientists generally agree that the hippocampus plays an important role in the formation of new memories about experienced events (episodic or autobiographical memory). Part of this function is hippocampal involvement in the detection of novel events, places, and stimuli. The hippocampus seems to be implicated most in memory (which we are very interested in with ART) and learning. The other area of interest for ART in the brain is the Amygdala or the "Alarm System" of the brain. The Amygdala is always scanning and interpreting the surroundings to determine if the input it gathers is 'friend' or 'foe' and
determines if there should be a response. In the case of trauma, and pain in some cases, the amygdala seems to misfire and continue to send the signal that there is something going wrong when there is really no problem what so ever. In the case of the amputee, this would be called "phantom pain" and in the case of the fibromyalgia client this is repressed emotional pain that goes untreated long enough to cause a "syndrome." Using Accelerated Resolution Therapy in my practice, I have used metaphors to help the client shut off the warning bells in their brain. This converts to not having the symptoms of pain, anxiety, working with trauma and even addiction recovery. The primitive structures of the brain, for a
Hippocampi in red
lack of a better term, are easy to fool. The science is very complicated, but for simplicity sake, our example will be streamlined. The man or women with post-traumatic stress have a brain that has been tricking them for the past several months, years, and in some cases, decades. In this very life limiting affliction called "PTSD", the hippocampus is generating images based on cues from the environment processed through one of the five senses, the amygdala is sending false signals to the autonomic nervous system that react with the assumption that all the data being relayed is real. The autonomic system and vagal response starts the process of survival by reappropriating blood flow
and sending more of it to the peripheral zones as a flight response. The response at this time as observed by others may look like anger, rage, isolation, or even physical assault on another. The person with the response has very little awareness of their behavior due to blood in the medial prefrontal cortex, again a survival response present in the human organism (prehistorically, we do not need to think about fleeing from a dangerous animal, we need to first flee, then think of why). The answer here is to shut off the alarm bells (Amygdala), which in turn break the connection to the hippocampus (the emotion center), which in turn eliminate the symptoms (anger, rage, isolation, chemical abuse). ART is a perfect therapy for doing all of the aforementioned and much, much more!
The Amygdala - A work that literally means almond in Greek. These almond structures located almost directly under the hippocampi are responsible for interpreting the environment as 'friend or foe' and sounding an alarm bell if danger is detected. In the case of developmental trauma (An ongoing threat as a result of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse over time) the amygdala can get triggered by many different stimuli. These triggers throw the brain and mind into a "survival mode" that often looks to the observer to be 'over the top' and unnecessary. For the person being hijacked by the amygdala, it is overwhelming and the source of reason to cope using chemicals of abuse, gambling, shopping, process addictions, hoarding, depression, anxiety and even psychotic manifestations.
Images = Alarm = Sensations and Emotions = Symptoms
(Turn off the Alarm System = Eliminate Symptoms!!!)
Amygdala in red
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