“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” President Franklin J Roosevelt
In light of yet another heinous cowardly and evil act carried out on Western soil this week there are more and more people who are living in perpetual fear. Not your run-of-the-mill fear of spiders or snakes but fear for their lives and the lives of those they love and hold dear.
Fear is the primary psychological weapon underlying acts of terrorism and it this fear, or the anticipation of future acts of terror, that can have serious effects on our behaviour and minds.
And this is exactly what the terrorist monstrosities are counting on. They want us to be full of fear. Fear of them, constantly. They think it proves they’re relevant. And they’ll do just about anything to try and keep that fear going. Terrorist groups provide their members with a feeling of belonging and empowerment and, in some cases, a means of avenging past wrongs. These groups prey on the vulnerable, the young, the mentally ill, the egomaniac, the abused, in fact they just prey. They are predators of the most vile kind.
Terrorism can be traced back as far as the first century A.D, when the Zealots of Judea assassinated Roman occupation forces because they felt that Roman rule was incompatible with Judaism. Like other religious extremists, the Zealots rejected the authority of a government and laws that didn’t fit in with their belief system.
Fast forward to the rise of a new breed of terrorist, the IRA. These so called nationalists murdered in the name of reclaiming their homeland, their actions designed to garner international sympathy for their cause and to coerce the dominant group to concede to their wishes.
For forty years Eta waged a bloody campaign for independence for regions in northern Spain and south-west France that Basque separatists claim as their own.
And then the fear perpetrated by governments, case in point, Tony Blair and George W instilling fear around the world with claims that weapons of mass destruction are pointing directly at us and ready to go.
9/11. 16 years later and still fresh in the memories of most people around the globe. And then there follows countless conspiracy theories and we’re all whipped up into yet another frenzy.
I could go on, but clearly there is good reason that many people live in fear of threat.
So why do some people respond differently to fear and threat? There’s the people that scream and run for cover, those who run forward to help, those who take out their mobile phones and press the record button and those who stand frozen to the spot, unable to move, paralysed with fear.
Fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals increasing heart rate, breathing and energising muscles, also known as the fight-or-flight response. It’s inherent in all of us, thanks to our amygdala. The amygdala is a part of the limbic system and is situation at the end of the hippocampus. It’s responsible for the response and memory of emotions, primarily anger and fear.
Hypnotherapy promotes mind-body interaction of this area of the brain and recent research has shown that hypnosis can give a person the ability to control the amygdala.
Under hypnosis, a person’s amygdala is turned down. A highly trained hypnotherapist can relax the autonomic nervous system by using hypnosis.
Turning off the amygdala disables a typical “fight, flight, or freeze” response and stops any emotional triggers that may occur. The good thing about turning off the amygdala is that it allows the body and the body’s immune system time to heal. This is why hypnosis has such a wide range of uses and therapeutic benefits (Frank and Mooney, 2002)
There is little doubt that how we think and indeed what we think about most, affects us all in different ways and to varying degrees.
Sadly, changing the way we think won’t extinguish the barbarians, although it’s a wonderful thought, but changing the way we think and respond to fear is how we can all fight back.
Clinical hypnosis is an effective technique to help reduce fears, phobias, post trauma (PTSD) and to overall, help release negative feelings and emotions.
Gail Marra D.Hyp MNCH (Acc) LAPHP is a GHR registered Clinical Hypnotherapist accredited by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy, National Register of Psychotherapists and Counsellors and the Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council
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