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Daniel L. fear and TMS symptoms

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Jan 19, 2015.

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  1. Guest

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    Question
    I know this may sound a little vague, but what is the connection between fear and physical TMS symptoms?
     
  2. Daniel G Lyman LCSW

    Daniel G Lyman LCSW TMS Therapist

    Answer
    That’s not vague at all – that’s a great question! I think I’ve been asked this same question by nearly all of my clients, because much of the work we do is focused on reducing fear.

    I have an analogy: Have you ever seen a horror movie in the theatre? If not, that’s okay – you can still understand the analogy. When you go to a horror movie in theatre, half of the fun is sitting in a crowded house where everyone is having strong visceral reactions to what is playing up on screen. Faces are hiding behind hands, legs are bouncing off the floor, arms are tense, hands are aggressively holding other hands – lots and lots of strong physical reactions. Because of fear! When I used to go see horror movies in the theatre as a kid, I’d walk out of them feeling exhausted. Why? Because I had just spent 2 hours scared out of my mind. My body couldn’t handle being scared any longer!

    Now, imagine if I had stayed in that movie theatre watching a never-ending horror movie for days on end. How do you think I’d feel? How about after weeks, months, or even years? Eventually my body would become exhausted and in a great deal of pain from all the tension I had in my body that I was never able to let go.

    This is what fear can do to our body. We’re (figuratively) strapping our bodies to a movie theatre seat, forcing ourselves to watch a scary movie for our entire lives. And the reason that the movie we’re watching is scary is because we’ve been conditioned to believe that everything in our lives is scary! Pain is scary! Emotions are scary! Telling someone that you’re angry with them is as scary as the monster under the bed! Imagine how hard it is to relax when we feel like there is a monster under the bed.

    Now, our body can’t actually live in a state of high-tension at all times. We would collapse. So eventually we learn to deal with the fears in our lives and they become nothing more than a habit. Habitual fear. Our bodies are used to feeling this much fear, so when we have moments of relaxation, that’s when your body says to you “What?! Go back to the habit of feeling terrified/anxious – that’s what I’m used to!”

    Now – why not get up and go watch a happier, less scary movie? Turns out, your body has gotten used to feeling afraid and doesn’t like change. In fact, it’ll do anything it can to keep you from changing. In a way, you’ve become so conditioned to sitting in the movie theatre watching the horror movie that when you try and leave (because you’re tired of feeling afraid), your body fights back by throwing pain at you to keep you more afraid. And it works! If you’re not scared of the movie, then you’re scared of the pain. All this to keep you fearful & anxious!

    In short: Being afraid 24/7 is extremely hard on your body, and as you become habituated to it, your body thinks that you want to feel fearful all the time. Then when you start to change that pattern, then it throws pain at you to make you more afraid. The only way to change this pattern is to train ourselves not to be afraid of the pain – and from there we can learn to leave the horror movie and go sit in the romantic comedy showing at the end of the hall instead.


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