Priming the Brain to Remain Calm in a Crisis by Linda Graham!

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Priming simply means preparing the brain to feel a certain emotion or a physiological state that could be adaptive in an anticipated situation: to feel proud or confident before walking into a meeting with the boss, to boost your assertiveness when defending yourself in court, to remain grounded and open-minded when hearing your doctor discuss results of the latest lab tests.
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There are many strategies for managing emotions and physiological states after they arise.
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Priming is different: it’s preemptive, creating an emotional or physiological state that prevents fear or anger or shame from arising. Here we set the intention to remain calm and then use priming as a tool to do so.
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We can effectively prime the brain to meet stressful situations by achieving a state of calm and equilibrium beforehand.
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We can use the oxytocin response in particular to prime the brain to be less reactive to future stress because the release of oxytocin, activated whenever we remember someone we care for or who makes us feel cared for, acts as a buffer against stress even before it occurs.
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An excellent example of this kind of priming was reported in a study by James Coan at the Laboratory for Cognitive and Affective Science at the University of Wisconsin.
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In the study, three groups of women subjects knew they were going to be administered a slight but unpleasant electric shock on their ankles. Their brain functions were monitored using an fMRI scanner.
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The control group of women subjects, who were left alone in the scanner, registered anxiety before and pain during the test. Women holding the hand of a stranger (the lab technician) registered less anxiety and less pain.
But the group of women holding the hands of their husbands registered the least anxiety and pain, and in some cases, no anxiety or pain at all.
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The pleasurable security of holding the hand of someone who loved them released oxytocin, reduced their stress, and overrode both anxiety and pain.
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These women instead reported experiencing peacefulness throughout the procedure. Holding hands with someone they felt safe with primed or conditioned their brains to remain in the calm and relaxed, yet engaged and alert, state of the window of tolerance.
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It turned off the threat switch in the brain and overrode anxiety and pain, even in a situation that was stressful to others.
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2 responses to this post.

  1. Very very interesting.

  2. Amazing stuff

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