Friday, July 01, 2016

If that crying baby is soothed and cared for ....... ANGER / FIGHT / FLIGHT

ll humans are born with a powerful wired-in fight-or-flight response—anyone who has held a screaming infant can attest to its intensity. Anger is an essential biological reaction to perceived danger, a physiological shift that allows us to stop thinking and take immediate action, to act as if our life depends on it. It is generated by our evolutionary survival response to threat, and we all carry it. We are wired by nature for rage. It is the impulse that has insured our survival as a species: kill or be killed. It is primitive, and it is very strong.
If that crying baby is soothed and cared for, the fight-or-flight response will calm. This strengthens the pathways that regulate the response and allows the child to learn to control anger. If a baby learns instead that needs won’t be met, because caregivers are unpredictable or violent or abusive or absent, the brain wiring will develop to fit his life. Rather than learning to soothe itself, the brain will remain in a more or less constant state of fight or flight, and emotional responses will be unfettered and impulses out of control. Trauma later in life can also disrupt the brain’s ability to modulate the intensity of reactions.

An adult who is able to effectively regulate anger uses it to alert himself to a problem situation. Managed well, it is an extraordinarily effective warning system.  Unregulated, impulses are stronger, and thinking is less clear. The poorly regulated adult with enhanced reactivity, impulsivity, and a constant state of fight or flight sees in every interaction the potential for being harmed and the necessity to defend himself. The angrier he feels, the less clearly he will think. His reactions will often be out of proportion to the situation, and he will be prone to violence. Because he sees the world as a constant source of danger, he externalizes blame, to his spouse, children, neighbors, government, and “others” in race, nationality, religion, or culture. Angry, blaming, aggressive, and unable to modulate his emotions, he can become a danger to others.