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Monday, July 26, 2010

Confusion Between Feelings and Thinking

As concerns methods of therapy that suggest "focusing on feelings" I would like to say further that due to the process of pain perception it is impossible to focus on feelings without thinking about them. This is because all feelings and emotions and pain of any kind are produced in the subcortex, and the signals that pain and emotion are being produced must go up the brain and not only be received but acknowledged in the neocortex before a human being can feel physical pain or emotions.

This moment of acknowledgment is usually beneath our awareness but once you understand that it exists you can better understand the very intricate relationship between feelings and thinking. Feelings and emotions are defense mechanisms, they are warnings. It does not seem reasonable to me stay stuck in warnings (which you would have to force yourself to do in order to focus on feelings) rather than move on to direct action which you decide upon as a result of warnings.

The other thing to consider is that many feelings and emotions are irrational, rather than the result of responses to actual danger. Many feelings and emotions are not necessarily legitimate warnings but replays in the mind of old neural patterns that are triggered off accidentally through learned association. This is because no matter how much you focus on some feeling, you are never going to get rid of that neural pattern in your brain.

So, concerning any neural pattern carrying some feeling or emotional that is painful, irrational, or unhelpful to moving forward with your day, once it pops up, and you acknowledge that it is not useful (if you are acknowledging a feeling, therefore you are not repressing it) , it seems to me it is wise to simply ignore it and choose another thought that moves you forward with another neural pattern that is more productive.

This process of pain perception is also the reason that hypnosis is a very effective treatment for the management of chronic physical pain. For a good book about chronic physical pain I would suggest the book "A Whole New Life" by Reynolds Price.

1 comment:

Ginger said...

I can see how I'm at the point where I can recognize/acknowledge that feelings are being triggered by old neural patterns. However, in the case of irrational fear for example, fears I experience while driving, or while being yelled at in my case, those feelings are hard to ignore in the moment as they produce a disturbing physical reaction. My heart starts pounding like it's going to burst through my chest! I get very shaky too. This makes the event seem more "real," the feelings seem "valid," & renders me less capable of dealing effectively with what's in front of me. In the case of driving, that could be dangerous, which is why I stay stuck in a limited driving "territory" & never venture beyond it. Have wondered if driving school would help, or if the repressed fear would still get in the way.

Would Price's book help with managing the physiological reactions? His book sounds like one I need to read anyway, since I deal with chronic back & more recently, arm pain. I somatize a lot of fear, I believe, & have done so for years.

Thanks for the book recommendation & for all your informative posts here on MobyJane! I follow the blog daily & get so much out of each & every post you write.