When the Body Says "no" - Gabor Mate

Magpie

Jedi
HifromGrace said:
I tend to write it off thinking it's chemically enduced anger (when cheating on diet) - but I still act like a fool. But (meagerly) to my credit, I don't act out on him anymore, feeling entitled to rage & rant & blame - I know enough that my feelings are not an accurate reflection of the reality around me. But it's still not ok to do. I'm glad to come across this conversation, because I've been wanting to change and understand.

A couple of weeks ago something interesting happened. I had been going on like a 3 week bender of being pissed off at him, at every little thing, just intolerant. And I was trying to articulate (out loud to myself) what on earth was I actually so mad about, and before I could self edit, a comment about control came out (I've been sooooo blind to this aspect previously, thinking I was immune to "control issues"). I was really embarrassed and it scared me straight somewhat (& am so grateful to gain some perspective from what you guys are saying above).

Then that night, I decided to do something different based on trying to be kinder to myself - for a couple months I had consciously changed my inner script when I was feeling anxious. To sum it up, I would have this feeling of so-and-so standing over me and criticizing me to no end (like getting the house ready to host Easter, and trying to accommodate other people's standards and being degraded at every turn). And I realized that so-and-so had never actually done anything threatening like that to me, and yet here I was, on hour 2 of hearing this dialog (learned behavior from youth?).

Anyway, I've been getting Reiki treatments of late and my inner dialog there has been "love to me" and so I forcibly chose to have that so-and-so tell me "love to you" for the rest of my activities! Man did that turn out well!

And back to my husband story, so that night, I went over my day and for all my petty anger, in each situation, I said "love to you Jack" instead. I did it for a few minutes, hitting all the bases, I didn't really dwell on it.

That morning he was super chipper & loving (vs us still waking up and being somewhat pissy). It was so nice, and he mentioned that he had a dream that we had made up (in the larger sense) - I was so struck. I told him about my corn ball "love to you thing" and he appreciated that (being directed to him & to caring myself).

It's been a story on my mind that I've wanted to share. It was a powerful & empowering experience for me.


I've gone back and forth with myself, thinking this could fall into the New Age beaming love & light bull crap thing. & I'm tending to side with it not being the same. I had no coercive intent, no expectation or anticipation. I was just trying to not act like such an a-hole, and it was a stepping stone, consciously choosing something other than auto-pilot anger. Any thoughts?

First of all, from a person that used to get really angry-really fast-I salute your efforts. It is hard to turn temper around. For me, it was turning my viewpoint around-I tended to focus on me, and what I was getting from whatever the situation was-and when it didn't go my way-it was not pretty. I was an ugly person. I could be cruel and sarcastic. And the person I was married to just fed that anger and resentment. It was not a good way to live. Getting so angry and tense was my reaction to not being in control. I grew up with a family motto of: if you want something done right, you better do it yourself. I didn't work well with others in school because I was always too paranoid to leave the fate of my grade in someone else's hands. There were a myriad of examples of how my life was a battle for control. But it was hard to "get outside my self" and see myself. If you haven't read Timothy Wilson's book -Strangers to Ourselves, I do recommend it. It helped me to see me from outside me :).

Second of all, I think that Mate points out that a lot of our adult issues come from repression and junk left over from our childhoods. When you were younger, did you feel like you didn't have control? Did you feel like things weren't safe unless you could control them? I developed some control issues when my first spouse abandoned me with a baby. It was an awful feeling to know that the person who was supposed to be my partner and help me provide for our child -just quit. I couldn't control him. I couldn't make him come back. I could not make him better (he has bi-polar disorder). But as I read Mate and Wilson's books, I began to realize that my issues of control started way long ago, before I was ever a parent. As a child, I was successful at the things I did--but I only did things I was successful at. As a result, (a) I didn't try many things because I was terrified of failing because (b) I didn't want my parents to be unhappy with me and disappointed. So, hence, I only participated in activities that I could control the outcome or that I was completely assured of winning. Example: after taking a ball to the head at the hands of a much larger boy at a kickball game when I was 8, I never played sports again. Ever. It was also embarrassing to hear the other children laughing at me as I was on the ground. The incident taught me that if I wasn't in control, pain and suffering ensued. So I vowed at that moment to never do things that would make me vulnerable to pain. That's a ridiculous lesson for an 8 year old to process but that's what I walked away with (and a mild concussion.) So perhaps as painful as it might be, going back and really examining your childhood could be helpful in realizing where some of this anger comes from. When we can recognize our patterns and their sources, it can really help with the shedding process.

Thirdly, Reki is really helpful. I know for me it was very calming and helped me to get my temper under control big time. Also, I found EE was tremendously beneficial. Do you practice? In reading Mate, a reoccurring theme in a lot of the people's lives is their inability to let go. They just kept repressing everything and that led their various illnesses. Bad things and stressful situations are going to arise in life and I have found EE didn't make the situation go away--but it totally helped me deal with it in a way that didn't cause internalization of stress and negativity. Pipe breathing is wonderful for calming down and gaining perspective and it's something that can be done quietly and in your office chair, or while you're cooking dinner, or while you are wrangling children. :)

Lastly, I am familiar with auto-pilot anger. And I am sending you a big hug for recognizing that you have this pattern, and a big pat on the back for wanting to abandon it. This is something that it has taken me years to shake. My friends jokingly referred to it as "the red mist descending". It was irrational and as I look back on my behavior, I do struggle with forgiving myself for such anger. IMO, this is not New Age bs. This is you dealing with your programming and taking active steps to walk away from a mantle you no longer have to wear. Shedding layers and baggage can be painful stuff, and often is, if we are doing it honestly. I'm glad that you had this experience and were able to see a positive response from Jack.
Hugs,
Magpie
 

kalibex

Dagobah Resident
Magpie said:
Second of all, I think that Mate points out that a lot of our adult issues come from repression and junk left over from our childhoods.

The entire Mate video's definitely worth watching, especially closer to the end, when he starts working with audience volunteers. He asks a woman, who'd described her own childhood as perfectly normal and fine, to recall the last time she'd gotten angry with someone. He then has her describe the context of the situation (anger and feeling disrespected over a apartment mate's failure to clean to her specifications). Next, Mate asks other audience members to give their impressions of the situation...which not unsurprisingly, differ from the volunteer's own self-perception of victimhood. (About then as you watch, you can practically hear her saying to herself, 'Why did I volunteer to do this again?!' But he isn't doing that to embarrass her - he's doing that to point out that when that much sudden (arguably irrational) anger came up, she wasn't really reacting to the present - she was reacting to her (distant) past. The implication is that perhaps her childhood...hadn't been as 'perfect' as she'd thought, for her to be harboring those curdled feelings of anger over not being respected. I found it a really, really effective example of how one (with a bit of a reality check/mirroring) can put the brakes on the usual habitual emotional reactions.
 

davey72

The Living Force
Gabor Mate speaks of neural plasticity and another good thread you may want to read is here http://cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php/topic,31760.msg442361.html#msg442361

Perhaps a search will turn up more info on it.
 
Wow has this been an interesting & good experience for me - both, reaching out to the forum & doing the writing exercise.

This advice of the C's, to take concrete action in the world to signal that you are ready for change is working like a charm. Why I point it out, is because I've been sooooo used to living in my head, and convincing myself that that's just as effective. I'm gaining so much from everyone's perspective & insights (thank you!) - and that's an understatement - to have this ultimate international brain having a heartfelt conversation with you is profound (not that reading as a lurker isn't profound in it's own way, but very different).

OK, just newbie starry eyed marveling going on here :) I know it's all rather obvious.

My point other than appreciation is that yesterday I knew it would be challenging to carve out some time to work on the 3rd person narrative - but lo & behold, a pal texted me to have her kid come over - which for this age (7yr old) is golden, they need no supervision or interaction, so bingo!

And then later I had another serendipitous event, we were invited to see a kid movie and it was amazing to see how it directly related to a poignant aspect brought out in the writing exercise. Noticing that was such meaningful part of my day.


Anyway, it's not lost on me that I'm making good progress in ways that I never had. Partially this is also due to admitting (in a round about way at first) that I have wayyyy more work to do on myself. Something that stood out for me, in the language of my first post on this thread, is that I was blaming/excusing my anger on food - although that isn't a lie, but it was also a way of not admitting to myself that I have a ways to go. How can I explain this better... not that I consciously thought that I was "done," per say, but thinking that all my intellectualizing was the same as The Work.


Today, I've been catching my thinking in progress, like noticing that "ok, I'm getting irate, what's up??" and putting in the perspective of asking myself what I was trying to control and what I was afraid of. For example, my husband came home between jobs unexpectedly and I was just about to leap on our shared computer to check posts.

Rationally, I knew he only needed 10 minutes, but I couldn't hack it. I was able to catch myself and acknowledge that I was afraid my time slot would be shot (as in forever?) and that it really was about control and tolerating petty disappointments (& ok, I'm like, act like an adult Grace, you CAN wait 10 minutes, for real!).

At the time I felt like I was tolerant but still my tone & mood changed and it was rather crappy of me to do. Frankly, it's even quite embarrassing to type up in public!!!!!!


I see my kid do it all the time "it's gone FOREVER!!!" and I just think he's acting nuts, it's such an irrational response to what's before him. So I don't know what to make of this, other than acknowledge that it's hard and weird to see in myself... and remind myself to be kind to myself about it, like I am to my boy when he's feeling tender.


Magpie, I'm going to reply to you separate,
& davey72, thank you :)
 
Wow, wow, wow Magpie, I'm really struck by what you're saying about control and anger. I feel heartfelt gratitude that you shared your history with me, thank you.

Wilson's book should be coming in a day or two, I'm eager, thank you for the book lead - also for the Alice Miller book, I read that back in the day, but do not own it, I ordered it and her Free From Lies.

I have been doing EE - but only the past week (since I re-read tons & tons of transcripts) - I tried doing it regularly when it first came out, but I wasn't ready in a lot of ways, it felt arduous and fell to the wayside. Now it's coming easily (as in creating the time for it and no other emotional resistance/blocks). I'm shocked at the difference in who I am now as opposed to 4-ish years ago! I love doing it now, I'm a better person with it.

Thank you for your examples from childhood. It's given me a lot of food for thought. It's inspired me to do more 3rd person writing today. Again, I'm struck with how useful writing is (vs mental loop-ity loops!), also how different saying my thoughts orally works for me too.

Control. That's something I want to gain more of a perspective on. In my life I've had reallllyyyy crazy controlling people around me (around, but not immediately intimate with), so, in comparison, I never really considered I had issues there. But it all goes hand in hand. Again, thank you for your writings about your experience on this.

Lastly, you get a shout out from Jack! He said thanks :)
I know it's not that common to have unconditional support from your spouse, I don't take it for granted. We've worked hard & long on our relationship, and it's still hard work (I tell my kid "love is hard work") and I don't say that with any negativity - it's a pleasurable investment! The hard work is not pleasurable, LOL! but it is good!!!

Take care Magpie!
Grace
 
davey72 said:
Gabor Mate speaks of neural plasticity and another good thread you may want to read is here http://cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php/topic,31760.msg442361.html#msg442361

Perhaps a search will turn up more info on it.


Whoa nelly, that's a great thread, THANK YOU!
 

itellsya

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Gabor Mate on Sanitas Radio

Essentially discussing the book: sufferers of MS can't say no, cancer sufferers are people pleaser's, women as the traditional stress absorbers of ('at least') Western society, early experiences forming responses in adulthood, generational dis-ease/stressors, the immune system as the bodies system for saying no.

For those who haven't seen the 3 hour talk or still haven't read the book; Laura has said it is high on the recommended reading.

Gabor discusses Sanitas' issues, which are the inability to relax because of sadness. Sanitas is doing Yoga and Gabor says he is lucky to have gotten so far without issue. "do i want to be controlled by the patterns i created when i was 2". Sanitas says he can't calm down normally, but can when on a hike or somewhere scenic and Gabor questions whether he can bring that into his life - i can relate. Gabor says this is partially ego driven (something we create to protect ourselves) the idea of being unable to stop; something to prove, fear of falling behind etc..

He does (kind of) say, that ADHD equates with daydreaming in childhood and therefore Sanitas has been 'diagnosed', but other than that, it's an ok chat for anyone not yet familiar with the concepts.

(you can skip the first 3 minutes - the first 15minutes are available on youtube and hour 2 is via subscription)
_http://www.sanitasradio.com/guests/2014/07jul/SR-140701-gmate.php
 

Torstone

Padawan Learner
Very interesting book.

Chapter 12 on Alzheimer`s disease and how the hippocampus is deteriorating through lifelong stress got me thinking about how this may be a downward spiral.

Gabor Mate - When The Body Says No:

The hippocampus is active in memory formation and has an important function in stress regulation, It is well known that chronically high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can shrink the hippocampus.


This brings me to the fact that we are more often than not oblivious on a cognitive level to what the underlying reason for our emotional and behavioral patterns really are(Childhood trauma etc.) as explained in the book.
If prolonged stress deteriorates our memory function it may leave us even more in the dark of what the real reason is, and maybe this is one of the reasons we often have such difficulty approaching them.
Joseph Ledoux in his book “The Emotional Brain” talks in greater detail about not only how stress affects the hippocampus negatively, but actually intensifies the emotional response. His work is primarily on the fear system, but I think the dynamic also might fit other stress provoking emotions.

Joseph Ledoux – The Emotional Brain

It has been recognized for some time that the hippocampal steroid receptors are part of a control system that helps regulate how much adrenal steroid hormone is released. When the hormone binds to receptors in the hippocampus, messages are sent to the hypothalamus to tell the pituitary and adrenal glands to slow down the release. In the face of stress, the amygdala keeps saying “release” and the hippocampus keeps saying “slow down”. Through multiple cycles through these loops the concentration of stress hormones in the blood is delicately matched to the demands of the stressful situation.

If stress persists to long, the hippocampus begins to falter in its ability to control the release of the stress hormones, and to perform its routine functions…… Stress also interferes with the ability to induce long-term potentiation in the hippocampus, which probably explains why memory failure occurs. Importantly, stress also impairs explicit conscious memory functions in humans.

There is one more relationship between stress and memory that`s worth pointing out. One of the consequences of excess life stress is depression, and depressed persons sometimes have poor memory. It is quite possible that the memory disturbances that occur in depressions are closely tied up with the effects of stress on the hippocampus.

Sometimes stress helps in the formation of explicit memories, making them stronger, but it can also devastate explicit memory. We now have a plausible explanation for this paradox. Memory is likely to be enhanced by mild stress, due to the facilitatory effects of adrenaline, but may be interfered with if the stress is sufficiently intense and prolonged to raise the level of adrenal steroids to the point where the hippocampus is adversely affected.

Another point he makes is that while the hippocampus might be “overloaded”, the amygdala has a much greater threshold and therefore has the ability to continue the intensification of the emotion but not the memory.

Prolonged stress can break the link between the emotional response and the memory attached to it leaving us to fill in the blanks or leaving the emotion suppressed in our sub-cortical emotional systems. This may leaves us even more disconnected from our emotional life and causing unresolved stress to damage the hippocampus even more, deteriorating memory even further.

So this might be why suppresses/repressed emotions can be:
1. Difficult to connect or relate to, leaving them able to take control over us creating tension/stress.
2. Creating physical symptoms due to our inability to express them.
3. Creating even further damage to the hippocampus due to the unresolved stress already detached from memory.
 

nicklebleu

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Torstone said:
Prolonged stress can break the link between the emotional response and the memory attached to it leaving us to fill in the blanks or leaving the emotion suppressed in our sub-cortical emotional systems. This may leaves us even more disconnected from our emotional life and causing unresolved stress to damage the hippocampus even more, deteriorating memory even further.

I wonder, if this memory loss is somehow connected to the development of PTSD - like the body is unable to retrieve a certain memory specifically linked with certain events, and then, when PTSD is fully established, unspecific triggers can activate the cascade and the sufferer is unable to "deal" with the real situation.

Just a hunch.
 

Torstone

Padawan Learner
nicklebleu said:
Torstone said:
Prolonged stress can break the link between the emotional response and the memory attached to it leaving us to fill in the blanks or leaving the emotion suppressed in our sub-cortical emotional systems. This may leaves us even more disconnected from our emotional life and causing unresolved stress to damage the hippocampus even more, deteriorating memory even further.

I wonder, if this memory loss is somehow connected to the development of PTSD - like the body is unable to retrieve a certain memory specifically linked with certain events, and then, when PTSD is fully established, unspecific triggers can activate the cascade and the sufferer is unable to "deal" with the real situation.

Just a hunch.

Yes, it makes sense that this extreme stress reaction pattern should be able to cause damage to the hippocampus and deteriorating your memory function along with the ability to handle stress. However, what PTSD does seem to be a result of is the diminishing ability to distinguish the stimuli that created the fear reaction in the first place from other more “normal” stimuli, and to control the reaction. Followiing Ledoux`s speculations based on his research it seems that the extreme fear response first elicited was primarily learned first by our subcortical pathways, which makes sense since it in the long run is better to react very fast without much thinking when you are pretty sure some life threatening situation is coming your way, and rather later learn that there was no danger at all (false positive) instead of just thinking it is nothing (false negative). PTSD seems to be an extreme version of that.


Joseph Ledoux – The Emotional Brain

It is possible that in PTSD, as proposed for phobic learning, the direct projections to the amygdala from subcortical sensory processing regions are involved. If this were so, it would explain why the attacks are so impulsive and uncontrollable, and tend to generalize so readily (from gunshots, lightning to slamming doors). As we`ve seen, the subcortical pathways are quick and dirty transmission routes. They turn the amygdala on and start emotional reactions before the cortex has a chance to figure out what it is that is being reacted to.

Perhaps trauma, for some reason (genetic or experiential) in some persons, biases the brain in such a way that the thalamic pathways to the amygdala predominate over the cortical ones. Allowing these low-level processing networks to take the lead in the learning and storage of information. Later exposure to stimuli that even remotely resemble those occurring the trauma would then pass, like greased lightning, over the potentiated pathways to the amygdala, unleashing the fear reaction.


Quite possibly, it is harder for one to gain conscious willful control over these subcortical pathways. At the same time, because conscious memories are formed during anxiety attacks, the bodily sensations associated with those attacks, when recognized consciously, become potent elicitors or at least facilitators of anxiety.

So in this extreme case maybe the emotional response to fear stimuli is primarily learned on the subcortical level, and the hippocampus is "shut down" or "overloaded" when the stimuli is present, making it hard to take control over the situation, osit.

From there, the resulting fear, panic and anxiety can do much damage to the individual. And to top it off even send this unresolved anxiety down the generations like Gabor Mate mentioned in chapter 16.

When The Body Says No:

As a group of Canadian researchers have written, “Maternal care during infancy serves to program behavioral responses to stress in the offspring by altering the development of the neural systems that mediate fearfulness”. In short, anxious mothers are likely to rear anxious offspring, down through the generations.

In the adult children of Holocaust survivors with post-traumatic stress disorder, disturbances of the HPA axis and cortisol production where found. The more severe was the parent`s PTSD, the greater was the impairment in their children`s cortisol mechanisms.
 

hlat

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I finished the book yesterday. I liked the advice at the end to treat ourselves the same way that we would treat other people.
 

Scottie

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Anybody who hasn't read Maté's other book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts should definitely read it.

It's not just about drug addiction, but also the addictive brain chemical processes involved in workaholism, materialism, relationships, emotional issues, etc.

Two thumbs, way up! :thup:
 

Anthony

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
hlat said:
I finished the book yesterday. I liked the advice at the end to treat ourselves the same way that we would treat other people.

Yes, it's a powerful trick and yet very simple. A great example of metacognition
(thinking about thinking).

http://www.sott.net/article/287017-Stepping-outside-of-ourselves-expands-our-view-of-our-thinking-our-emotional-awareness
 

itellsya

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Interesting blurb along the lines of epigenetics and stress and the immune system (haven't seen it posted):
_http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/10/a-1998-ice-storm-was-so-stressful-on-pregnant-women-it-shows-up-in-dna-of-their-kids/

Canadian researchers have determined that prenatal maternal stress can permanently alter the DNA of children
, Neomatica reports.

Studies carried out on animals have yielded similar results, but “human research is hampered by the lack of experimental methods that parallel controlled animal studies,” the researchers wrote, because subjecting pregnant women to stress levels capable of having an epigenetic effect on their children violates medical researchers ethical standards.

“Disasters, however, provide natural experiments that can provide models of prenatal stress.”

So Lei Cao-Lei and Suzanne King, both of the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University, took advantage of one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history — the Great Ice Storm of 1998 — to study the effect of severe hardship on pregnant women.

Shortly after the storm, the researchers recruited 176 pregnant women to participate in what they call now Project Ice Storm. They assessed their degree of objective hardship — how long they were without electricity — as well as their subjective distress.

Thirteen years later, they tested the genes of 36 of the children born of these women to see whether objective hardship or subjective distress had an effect on them.

How stressed the women felt during the 1998 ice storm turned out to have no effect on the DNA profiles of their children. However, objective hardship — the number of days a woman was deprived of electricity — had a strong correlation to changes in genes related to immune function.

The researchers determined that the number of days an expectant mother was deprived of electricity created a change in their children’s immune systems that was “consistent with a change in gene programming of the immune system itself in response to stress.”

The children inherited an immune system that was, in essence, responding to the prenatal stress experienced by their mothers.
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Thanks for sharing, itellsya.

What struck me as rather odd was the fact that these researchers would limit themselves to natural disasters "...because subjecting pregnant women to stress levels capable of having an epigenetic effect on their children violates medical researchers ethical standards."

What about man-made disasters like war zones, for instance ? What levels of stress and "...objective hardship..." do pregnant women have to endure to the detriment of their offspring in areas like the Gaza strip or in the Ukraine, or you name it anywhere else ?!!

I say this being well aware of the stress and hardship my mother went through while carrying me in the second half of 1944 and early 1945 in the occupied Netherlands during WW II, and of the diverse negative effects I carry with me ever since.

For me personally there need not be any research done to eventually prove whichever detrimental effects, because I've been living them and coping with those all my life.

Plenty of friction to base doing the Work on, though. ;D
 
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