Did you know that various forms of trauma can affect the area of the brain involved with our emotional health? The brain changes its structure and function and when the limbic system is not functioning properly, it can make us think and feel in ways that may be shocking to us. Something we hear over and over again from clients battling chronic illnesses like chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivities and fibromyalgia is that they no longer feel like themselves.
On top of dealing with chronic illness they are also depressed and often feel out of control emotionally – even though they know they were not like this before they suffered from limbic system impairment. When the brain is stuck in a fight or flight response it is easy to understand how we can get stuck in negative thinking and feeling patterns. Even people who once considered themselves positive and easy-going can morph into someone that they no longer recognize as themselves. We may find our thoughts become fixated on past hurtful events, or that negative emotions like shame, resentment, sadness and anger slowly creep in and take over.
Like a gerbil on a spinning wheel, the same thoughts and feelings repeat themselves, over and over again. Not only is this way of thinking and feeling a symptom of limbic system impairment and very disparaging for the person who is suffering – the actual repetition of these thoughts and feelings strengthens the neural impairment, further changing the physical structure and function of the brain. In despair, many reach out for help and seek counselling to find relief from the psychological and physical suffering. Yet, with the brain stuck in fight or flight, examining the thoughts and feelings associated with the illness can unwittingly reinforce specific neural pathways in the brain.
The brain literally gets stuck in a rut.
“The prefrontal cortex, which lies directly behind the forehead, is the brain region where decisions about appropriate or required cognitive and/or emotional responses are made. It works to suppress or modify emotional responses generated by the amygdala. Thus an automatic reflexive fear reaction is reduced or stopped by messages from the prefrontal cortex indicating that the situation is safe and that there is no danger or threat. (Harvard Medical School, 2005).
Reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex is associated with increased stress related HPA-axis activity and anxiety related behaviours, including emotional numbing and the subsequent inability to process positive emotions (Jatzko, Schmitt, Demirakca, Weimer, & Braus, 2006). Further, the prefrontal cortex may be more focused on trying to modify the amygdala response to fear and threat and thus attending to more negative stimuli, leading in additional reduction in the person’s ability to focus on positive stimuli (New, Fan, Murrough, Liu, Liebman, Guise, Tang et al., 2009). It has further been suggested that the emotional over-response in the amygdala may be due to an impairment of the prefrontal cortex’s ability to inhibit or modify the amygdala’s response to outside stimuli. Without the more calming thoughts and judgments by the prefrontal cortex, automatic fear responses occur more frequently and to a broader range of events and situation.” After a traumatic experience, many individuals have an overly responsive amygdala that generates fear responses across a wide variety of stimuli. Because the amygdala is especially responsive to fear and threat, traumatized individuals will likely be more focused on negative stimuli and events (Armony, Corbo, Clement, & Brunet, 2005;)
Understanding why it may be difficult to get out of this pattern makes sense when we understand that specific thoughts and feelings create a very unique chemical formula in the body. When they are repeated often enough, the brain and body perceive this chemical state as “normal” and it becomes our unconscious habit zone.
Therefore when we say, “Neurons that fire together, wire together” – what this means in practical terms is that each time you repeat a particular thought or action, you strengthen the connection between a set of brain cells or neurons. The ability to examine and change our emotional state, even when threat mechanisms in the limbic system are firing, requires that we recognize how limbic system impairment is affecting the fight or flight centres in the brain and think beyond immediate alert messages or symptoms in the moment. This gets easier with focused and consistent repetition.
The good news is, and what the Dynamic Neural Retraining System will show you, is that your history does not have to be your destiny! “If your brain can change for the worse – it can change for the better!” (Paula – former client) We cannot reverse our past but we can move beyond it to recovery and resilience – we can compensate for damage with renewed strength and new healthy and happy neural pathways. While the human brain is one of the most complex systems on earth, the DNRS system is essential in its deep understanding of limbic system impairment and how it’s working to keep you unconsciously stuck in a state of fight or flight. Through consistent implementation of the DNRS program, you effectively move your brain and body from a state of survival, into a state of growth or repair, where healing can take place. When the focus shifts from symptoms to strengthening alternate neural pathways, and when the symptoms start to dissipate the “old” you will shine through as you take back control over your brain, your body, your condition and all the emotions in between!
Paula, who suffered for years with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression for years before discovering DNRS, really captures this process when she describes her recovery in her youtube testimonial – See Paula’s full recovery story with the Dynamic Neural Retraining System at
- “You are not alone, your suffering has not been in vain, and you can live the life that you dreamed of, even if you stopped dreaming a long time ago.” – Annie Hopper – Wired for Healing