Below is part of a document I’m working on, something I’m investigating.
The lizard brain (amygdala) is located where the spine enters the brain. Its function is to take over the body and actions to ensure survival in times of danger. It operates the body in any way it deems necessary to survive. Near the front of our brain is the rational brain. It is our personality, who we are. Our social skills. Our experiences and memories and the things we learn in life. The rational brain runs the show when times are good, and communicates constantly with the lizard brain which learns things that might come in handy for survival.
The lizard brain learns from our rational brain, only in times without trauma. For example, when you learn to scuba dive, the lizard brain learns about scuba diving and how to stay alive in an emergency. I don’t think lizard brain learns from the scuba books we read, it learns from what experiences we have while diving. For example, a new diver may tend to panic and bolt for the surface if a problem is perceived underwater, but an experienced diver would not, because the lizard brain has learned from the rational brain during previous dives.
It seems as if there is a “trauma light” in the brain, when the trauma light comes on. The lizard brain takes over, the rational brain is cut off, and does not influence what we do or how we act. The light is on or off, there is no in between.
Trauma is trauma. If the trauma light is on, the lizard brain is running the body. If the trauma light is on, the lizard brain cannot learn new things, because it is disconnected from the rational brain. It cannot remember new names, cannot remember new details in a conversation. No new information is processed. When the trauma light is on, the lizard brain will do what it did last time, because it knows that it will survive taking this particular action. The lizard brain is modifiable only when the trauma light is NOT on.
There is no strong trauma or weak trauma. As far as the body is concerned, the trauma a combat veteran may feel hearing fireworks is no more or less than the trauma of a little kid who is afraid of clowns.
That’s probably the first quarter of the paper I’m working on. For what? I don’t know… I need to break up my routine. My counselor thinks I operate solely on my lizard brain almost all the time. In nearly constant fight or flight mode.
I got a new vacuum cleaner yesterday, it’s fantastic. It’s a shop vac that has more power, all the attachments and costs just over half what an inferior house model would cost. I’m very pleased with the purchase.
And now I’m off to work! Have a great day!