Psychology and Mental Health Forum

Author:  margharris [ Fri Mar 13, 2015 11:48 pm ]
Blog Subject:  Body dysmorphia. How an amygdala hijack works in BDD.

So how do you experience your amygdala hijacking?
Loads of anxiety, impulsive behaviours and the overwhelming desire to cry or punch something.
Your impulsive behaviours have for too long fragmented your inner self and the entities that it contains, the child ( emotions), the teenager ( behaviours ) and adult self ( higher reasoning) . Your teenager's bad habits were permitted because your higher adult consciousness wasn't engaged to provide the wisdom. You didn’t have access to higher logic.
All your inner hurts have remained unhealed. While you try to tame all these behaviours of your teenager, that now constitute a large part of your illness, you will experience a very significant rise in anxiety.
So you can expect the fears to come and they will be explained through the stories you tell yourself. A worry about your appearance might come and you will hear yourself say," I am ugly, I am deformed."
This is just your imagination trying to give you some context for your feelings. Remember that this imagination centre operates on quick inferences because it can’t wait for logic. This is just how your alarm defense always works in flight or fight mode. Your imagination interpreting what is happening and will always exaggerate the threat just to be cautious. There is no point to an alarm system set to idle. Unfortunately, a BDDer or OCDeer has set their defences on hair trigger. So as you start reducing your reliance on compulsions to manage your BDD/ OCD, your anxiety will spike a lot.
So to update on how we are going with our urge reduction and restriction of compulsions. It is really tough. I first divided the list into easy/ middling/and difficult to stop. I was thinking of the hierarchy list of exposure and response prevention but that is not how it worked for us at all. Nothing structured worked. Almost all the compulsions fell over at once. He has stopped the cutting for three weeks. The only mirror left in the house ended up falling off the wall in the middle of the night. It smashed on the bathroom floor. We are not replacing it for the time being. I found he was having morning panics but then realised he was web surfing on the phone overnight. New agreement, he will stop this as the panics are so bad.
So the intrusive thoughts exploded and touching has taken over as the main compulsion. The touching triggers the amygdala and he repeats a story asking. “Why?” Then he repeats a story about Dutasteride. The end of the pattern is a mad dash to drink a glass of water. So analysing what happens, it is easy to see the touching triggers the amygdala fear response. Doubt enters because he has no memory. He repeats verbatim a story created by imagination as an automatic response to give context as there is no logic working. Then he quells the anxiety by drinking.
I don’t think one can stop this once it has started but we can reduce how often the amygdala gets triggered and maybe how long it lasts.

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