Fears, phobias and false memories

April 4, 2015

The ability to learn associations between events is critical for survival, and in many ways we are highly evolved and efficient learning machines. That’s fantastic if you want to learn an instrument, how to skip or surf, read, communicate and so on. However, we are also excellent at learning to be afraid, creating phobias and learning harmful and extreme responses to, for example, stressful situations or trauma. 

 

In the field of NLP and Hypnotherapy we use powerful tools to create new kinaesthetic (feeling) associations to particular stimuli - whether that’s a thing, such as a snake, a traumatic memory or an event. NLP is founded on the belief that if you can learn to be afraid, depressed, relaxed you can learn not to be - often just as quickly. 

 

In a study published April 2nd in Cell Reports some interesting experiments were done with our poor, long suffering mice friends. It was discovered that synchronous activation of distinct neuronal ensembles caused mice to artificially associate the memory of a foot shock with the unrelated memory of exploring a safe environment, triggering an increase in fear-related behavior when the mice were re-exposed to the non-threatening environment. The findings suggest that co-activated cell ensembles become wired together to link two distinct memories that were previously stored independently in the brain. It reports "Memory is the basis of all higher brain functions, including consciousness, and it also plays an important role in psychiatric diseases such as post-traumatic stress disorder," (study author Kaoru Inokuchi of the University of Toyama). "By showing how the brain associates different types of information to generate a qualitatively new memory that leads to enduring changes in behavior, our findings could have important implications for the treatment of these debilitating conditions." 

 

The creation of ‘false memories’ or associations sounds scary, maybe even wrong. In fact it goes back to the days of Pavlov. But the ability to choose how you react or respond to events, memories or circumstances is a powerful and freeing ability.  It’s all about choice, and often those suffering with extreme phobias or PTSD really just want a choice. Fortunatley using NLP we don't need to eletrocute you as well!!

 

The idea of 'synchronous activation of distinct neuronal ensembles' seemed to me alot like techniques such as the NLP 'Swish Pattern'.  Why not look it up and see what you think...

 

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