Monday, July 6, 2015

Misinterpreting Sensations

This morning when I woke up and felt the way I usually feel--terrible--I tried to identify the actual sensation. I determined it is not pain--in the physical sense, anyway. But people do talk about emotional conditions as painful. What kind of pain are we talking about, then?

It feels like fear, as I've said many times in this blog. But is fear painful, then? What makes it painful? Perhaps it's the autonomic responses to threat, such as blood pressure, heart rate, adrenaline rush. Are those things painful? I guess they are because the body is being stressed to the limit, but when the threat is real, the response is intended to be short-lived. Fear that is not based on real threat and that doesn't go away is called anxiety. The pain comes from the long term nature of the response, maybe.

Here is a quote from NIMH website that discusses panic disorder, when the full-blown fight or flight response is triggered by something other than a true threat:
Researchers have found that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety. Some researchers think that people with panic disorder misinterpret harmless bodily sensations as threats. Panic Disorder
I believe that the lesser form of fear sensation, anxiety, is also the result of misinterpretation of bodily sensations, primarily originating in the brain. But maybe there are non-brain sensations that are being misinterpreted. I've never thought of that. I'd have to do some research to find out. By that I mean, try to pay attention to what is happening in my body when I feel afraid.

Can I make myself stop feeling it by not focusing on it? Or by focusing on it in a different way?

I have always said that the next step people who suffer take is the one that causes the problem: the misinterpretation of the sensations as threat, followed by the search for the source of the threat.

I'm doing some more thinking about this idea of misinterpretation.