Welcome to part 2 of the Autonomic Nervous System. If you have not read part 1, it is here and I would encourage you to read that first, so this part 2 makes sense.
In part one I described the Social Nervous System (a branch of the Parasympathetic Nervous System also known as the ventral vagus complex) and the Sympathetic Nervous System, also known as the ‘fight -flight’ system.
I finished off part 1 saying that ‘when our survival response is over ‘taxed’ then the FREEZE response kicks in’.
Keep in mind there is always a ‘dance’ between the different branches of the ANS as in daily life we switch between these different branches of our ANS. So when we get an infection or cut ourselves or have a sudden fall or get shouted at by the teacher or boss or the road rage driver, our ANS will kick in to regulate our body, this is simply called survival and it is important.
However, when the ‘fight-flight’ has been overburdened or there is ‘no escape’ from the PERCEIVED threat/danger then the FREEZE can kicks in.
Here is a VIDEO showing a classic case of FREEZE, remember we do not have control over this, as our ANS is involuntary. Watch the video before you continue reading.
Did you watch it? This is not a school test, but it is worth watching first, before reading on, as it gives you a real insight just how AMAZING this ANS is, that helps us ‘survive’ and get a grasp of what it means to be in ‘FREEZE’.
In the video, the Impala ‘plays dead’ and then, when there is an opportunity, he/she escapes. As humans, we can experience this as ‘fainting by the sight of a needle’ or feeling completely numb/paralyzed with fear. We have no control of our Autonomic Nervous System, it is there for our survival, it knows SO MUCH better than we do. Sometimes, it is knowing ‘how’ and when to ‘let go’ and letting go for good.
Animals shake/tremor when they have just gotten over a ‘shock’ or freeze state (did you see that in the video link?), breathing starts to get deeper again, core temperature starts to rise again, they become more aware of body and environment again. Basically, they know how to self-regulate by discharging all that physical tension.
Our autonomic nervous system is no different, but we humans can suppress the freeze, suppress the ongoing fight/flight. This happens more so when we do not ‘feel’ safe, so life is ‘lived’ in this ONGOING state of either fight-flight or freeze or BOTH.
So in essence, if we have experienced trauma, ongoing stress, ACEs etc then the ANS usually gets to a state of FREEZE, also known as TIRED AND TIRED. In some, it becomes more fight-flight and freeze, this is what is also known as ‘TIRED BUT WIRED’. SO what can freeze look like? If you think about what happens physiologically it is about supporting survival by helping us become very still and therefore relatively invisible to predators. It can come in various forms from…
- feeling dissociated
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- auto-immune conditions
- sleep disorders
- thyroid issues
Science is clearly showing that trauma is not solely about sexual abuse, war, surviving a hurricane but it can be a near miss car accident, being chased by a dog, having a parent that ‘absent’, being bullied at school or at work. This is not to make light of traumas such as physical abuse and sexual abuse or war traumas, but to clearly state that trauma is basically how the AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM responds to that ‘threat’, how this nervous system then goes onto impact the rest of the body. The issue starts with the ANS then moves onto tissues and systems in the body.
Dr. John Sarno’s work on TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome, his book The Divided Mind is well worth a read) is a clear indication of people raised in middle-class families suffer from ‘chronic illnesses’ that have nothing showing up in their blood tests, scans, x-rays etc. Trauma has no, race, no color, no gender or class system.
Our bodies are designed to heal, it is nature’s way. So when our body produces a symptom, it is trying to grab our attention. The belief that one day our body just decides to produce antibodies against the joints or the thyroid hormone receptors, or attack the myelin sheath or wake up with this mystery illness known as CFS is absolutely RUBBISH. The body tries everything before it gets to that place.
There are emerging therapies/forms of medicine as well as not so emerging to help such conditions and I will be sharing on these too with more insight.
If you have a chronic illness, ask yourself is there an unresolved trauma that is not healed? Is your body still living in the past? You can find your ACE SCORE HERE. PLEASE NOTE if you have not read PART 1, you may just want to, as I do not put ALL illnesses down to ‘trauma’ but a whole host of conditions I see, are more emotional ‘trauma’ based. This CASE OF ECZEMA indicates that skin conditions can also be ‘trauma’ based.
This is why I integrate RAPID TRANSFORMATIONAL THERAPY and HOMEOPATHY as best fits an individual seeking support on their health journey. Drop me a line if you want to book a session at firstname.lastname@example.org or want to have a quick 15-minute discovery chat.
To a healthy AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM!