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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

There is Only One Pain Caused by Fear but Many Different things that Cause it to Trigger

Dear R,

I didn't hear from you after my last email so I thought maybe I hadn't focused my answer enough that I posted just previous to this post. Maybe I had broadened the answer too much. So I have tried to refocus my answer to your question by making a more direct comparison between the two kinds of pain, the pain of depression and the pain caused by regular fear of something in current reality.There is only one fear, one flight-or-or fight response that triggers. The difference in our approach to handling that one fear and the pain it causes is altered by the situation in which it occurs

"The way we dissociate ourselves from our painful feelings is by switching to thinking about something else rather than what is happening in our present reality. But dissociating from painful feelings isn’t escaping from painful feelings. These repressed feelings hang around and drag us down in many ways, including depression."

What is brain switching but dissociating from our painful feelings?  Depression causes physical pain in current time.
When you dissociate from the pain of depression you are dissociating from a chronic neural pattern that triggers automatically whether there is something in current reality to be legitimately afraid of or not; you are not dissociating from the pain of regular fear caused by something in the current day that has frightened you. And by dissociating from these reality-based fears (we are not considering here whether or not you should be afraid of speaking in public or social snubs) the fear is repressed and you suffer the fear anyway as you become less sure of yourself and avoid situations in the future similar to the one where you first experienced fear.
You then start projecting the original fear on other things. A child who is not coached through his perfectly normal fear of going to his first birthday party (there is always some fear associated with our doing anything new and different and should be accepted as part of life) may spend his whole life avoiding parties. Someone's fear might have stemmed at first from a social snub. Then, not dealing with this fear, accepting it and letting it finish, that person might become afraid of all social situations. (We call this social anxiety) This can escalate into such a boatload of repressed  and projected fears that some people are afraid to even walk out of their house. We call that agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is quite different from depression but they both stem from fear and the pain caused by fear.

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