The killing of innocent people in Beirut, Iraq, Paris and other places by terrorists is extremely frightening for most people. Our media and politicians are exploiting this fear so that they can manipulate us to buy their stuff and vote for their political party. How can we fall for this?
Fear is all around us, and it is marketed to us daily. When we are in fear, we are in the unknown. We believe something bad has happened to us, or is about to happen to us. Our brains are wired to deal with fear in one of three ways: Fight, Flee, or Freeze.
It is the primitive part of our brain that causes us to Fight, Flee or Freeze. This part of our brain located above the brain stem and is called the Amygdala. The Amygdala served us very well when we were hunter-gatherers. It kept us alive and allowed our species to survive.
However our brains continued to evolve as humans evolved and we developed the Frontal Cortex. This is our “manager”. It is the rational, thoughtful part of our brain. It is where we analyze information and make rational decisions based upon known facts. The frontal cortex has allowed us to evolve into what we are today.
The problem is that in order for information to get to the Frontal Cortex it must first pass through the Amygdala. There is a term used by many in the mental health field called the “Amygdala Hijack”. This is when information gets stuck in the Amygdala and does not pass through to the Frontal Cortex. An Amygdala Hijack occurs when we are confronted with stressful or fearful situations and causes us to act irrationally and impulsively without full information.
This is why we now hear our politicians on the right advocating war in the middle east. The last war in the middle east went very badly because we acted impulsively and invaded the wrong country (Amygdala Hijack). We know this rationally when we use the Frontal Cortex to consider the problem, but we are now once again in a fearful state and being urged to act impulsively.
Today, our Amygdala’s have once again been Hijacked by fear. We are finding little support to move these fearful impulses through the Amygdala and into the Frontal Cortex so that we can analyze the information with reason and analysis. In the meantime, we are being urged to buy consumer products to make us feel good and vote for politicians who are going to “fight” and keep us safe. This is a recipe for disaster, and we know this rationally, but we seem to be unable to do otherwise.
Why is a divorce lawyer talking about this? Because fear drives divorce litigation. The fear is most often promulgated by the divorce lawyers in order to get large fees. If you are paying a lawyer an hourly rate to solve a problem for you don’t expect the problem to be solved quickly or efficiently. The more fear you have, the more money you will impulsively pay the lawyer to “fight” for you. It’s disgusting and unethical, but our Supreme Court has sanctioned the process.
I often wonder whether there is hope for humanity or if we will soon impulsively incinerate ourselves out of fear and superstition. I remind myself that there are some excellent people and organizations working very hard to help those who are going through fearful circumstances to make better, more reasoned decisions: Collaborative Practice to help families move through divorce in a rational, respectful manner, many international conflict resolution organizations are making great strides in bringing peace around the world, Pope Francis reminding to live as Jesus did by loving our neighbor as our brother, the Dali Lama’s constant teachings on compassion and loving kindness…
All of these people and organizations are urging us to be conscious of the input coming into our brain and be aware of its effect on us. We need to be more thoughtful, rational and make better decisions based upon reason and analysis. We can only do this by using what God gave us, our brain, the entire brain, and engage our Frontal Cortex so we can consciously make reasoned decisions based upon objective facts.
This is the only way we will survive as a species in any form that will bring us happiness.