So rather than spin stories about impending catastrophes, try to live more with what’s actually happening, and less with what might happen.” Here’s Your Brain’s New User Manual For Uncertain Times
Prior to the UK referendum on EU membership, as a psychologist I wrote on my Facebook page about the cognitive dissonance affecting the whole of the electorate who were used to voting on tribal lines, often fixed and unwavering. There was very little rational discussion with most comments being tribal too. After the referendum I closed my page down; the abuse I took now being berated as a fascist racist misogynistic homophobe was utterly …….. believable!
Now I write again from a psychology viewpoint about an effect described by Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane which I am applying to those whose emotions are running high and are anti Brexit and anti Trump. If you want to argue with the psychology then go ahead, intellectually I will take you on. But abuse on here will only reinforce the points of Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane. The academic article quoted above needs practical interpretation and application from applied psychologists, so let’s have a go!
This anxiety puts us in a heightened state of stress. Pumped with more adrenaline and cortisol, our entire brains essentially get hijacked by a single region of it, the AMYGDALA.
The expression “amygdala hijack” was first used in Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence and can refer to the emotional reactions in response to perceived threats. The amygdala acts like a hair trigger in emotional outbursts, and once the emotional system gets hold of something ……. it never lets go ……….. without therapy! This is especially the case if the emotional response is out of kilter with the ACTUAL stimulus or threat. The article referred to in this post takes the amygdala hijiack theory a stage further and relates it to a number of controversial issues in the world of politics today where many reactions and protests are emotional responses to perceived rather than real threats. Here are several interesting paragraphs from the full article:
Even if you’ve kept only one eye on the headlines lately and the other tightly clenched, you’re probably aware that these are, shall we say, some pretty uncertain times. But what you may not be aware of is that human beings, thanks to much earlier times, far back in our evolutionary history, aren’t built to deal with uncertainty all that well for all that long.
We often tell ourselves stories, and they often make us feel worse, not better. We lay out a future of terrible things and then live in that future, even though none of the anticipated things have happened before and may never happen in actuality—it’s a natural reaction. That doesn’t mean they won’t, of course. Sometimes, there really is a lion behind that shrub. Other times, it’s just our lurking, disembodied worry that there might be.
So what we have is Remainers in the UK and anti-Trumpers in the US who are acting in an irrational and emotional way to non justifiable fears, gross assumptions, exaggerations often of non existent issue and opinions they twist into facts. Brexit Remainers say that leaving the EU will cause this or that, controlling immigration will cause the NHS to collapse, not continuing in the single market will lead to an exodus of industry and corporations; then we have the likes of Tim Fallon, Tony Blair, Richard Branson, Nicola Sturgeon, Gary Lineker, and all of the EU commissioners who seem to have had a total brain-hijack and live in a fantasy world in which the referendum never took place or that parliament recently voted AGAINST triggering Article 50 as they plot, set up anti-Brexit organisations, and generally act in an undemocratic and totalitarian manner. Their ability to “talk down” our country seems to know no bounds!
Finally, let’s return to the original quote from the article as follows:
“So rather than spin stories about impending catastrophes, try to live more with what’s actually happening, and less with what might.” In a nutshell, take back control of your amygdala and get-a-life!