Another victim of violence: Trust in those who mean no harm
on 21 May 2019
life is the brain

Do you ever get that feeling, the feeling that who you are with, cannot be trusted or where you are, just isn't safe? Well, it turns out this is nothing other than the defensive mechanisms within our brain, essentially it no longer trusts your judgment, it just makes those decisions for you. The problem for you is, that you actually don't necessarily trust it either . . . 

When it comes to good judgment, stress blocks your senses!

It is not totally unusual for the victims of a challenging divorce, maybe several, to develop avoidance behaviours when it comes to relationships. Avoidance behaviours are one of the most prevalent strategies of an anxiety disorder. However, one doesn't have to stretch the imagination too far, to see the parallels between these kinds of behaviours, which many people who have come out of a bad marriage or relationship often develop! A more usual pattern, following a marital breakup, is a failed relationship, often called the rebound effect. However, this research gives some insight into the mechanisms, in the brain, that may be responsible for this?

While this study focuses on the effect of placing trust in someone who will do you no harm, following exposure to violence, the primary brain regions involved will be the defensive mechanisms, e.g. amygdalae, hypothalami, thalamus, hippocampus and other local and distant areas, like the striatum, claustrum, cingulate gyrus, prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortices. These are merely a few of the areas involved in the processing of emotional (good and bad) experiences. This creates a dilemma because, on the one hand, we want, maybe need, to love another person, yet we fear going down the same pathway of the past. The desire to find another person to share in our life leads to the searching and onset of the new relationship. They need to feel safe (because Cupid's arrow, only goes so deep) is what makes us begin to notice the cues, the odd look, wry expression, or comments, those familiar things that convince us we are in or heading towards danger. A process called confirmation bias essentially directs our brain to look for signs of impending danger and to the degree that we have had plenty of experience of those relational anomalies, is the same degree to which we will find the evidence that convinces us they are there; even if they do not really exist, we will find them!

If this experience happens with the frequency of a yo-yo, then we eventually can move towards greater and greater strategies of avoidance. This leads to what I refer to as linguistic confirmation bias, e.g. all "men/women" are  . . . We potentially begin to avoid situations where we will meet new people or, we can become, defensive or belligerent in their presence, rebuking them, scolding or deriding them. Essentially these are strategies that will either allow us to avoid them or them to avoid us. The tragedy, to some extent, is that people who behave like this, actually believe that they are in control of the process. Sadly they are suffering from a delusional illusion, their brain is actually tricking them into a sensory experience of false reality/security. 

The bottom line is, that to have a happy and fulfilling life, we need real and genuine social connections. In some sense, this is a natural part of the evolution of our species, our family provides this for us or at least it should. That is what makes us different from many other species, the genetic engineering of monogamy, the footprints of social bonding, partly a consequence of oxytocin and vasopressin, the body's love chemicals. The problem for us humans though, is, that we confuse evolutionary love with romantic love. Storytellers and greeting card copywriters really know how to tickle our emotions, we look for the right words that convey our feelings, or at least, so we think! I say "so we think" because it is actually what we think we feel, not what we actually feel that creates the desire. Motivational speakers know how to deliver words that evoke feelings but we, predominantly, focus on the narrative of the feeling, not the actual feeling itself! 

I like to look at love from different perspectives and using a scale of L1 to L10 is useful. In that sense, love (as in, the chemical experience in the brain) needs to be experienced frequently, but only in lower levels, say L1 to L5, for it to maintain equilibrium, peace and calmness. When we are in this mode, all of our systems function well. However, we need to procreate to survive as a species. So, in order to do this, we need a motivating factor, sex, to start the process of procreation. The motivating factor of sex is the orgasm L6 to L8, a feeling so pleasurable it has spawned billions of people (many of whom were not wanted) and a whole industry dedicated to feeding off of our desire for it! The problem, at least for us, is that we confuse orgasm as love, rather than just the motivator of an experience for the sake of procreation! The next level of love-seeking is narcotics, including, to a lesser extent, nicotine and alcohol. Nicotine is most likely in there with orgasm, maybe L6 to L8. However, the hard stuff, or so I have been told, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy etc, they get you right up there, L9 to l10. The problem though is that these are somewhat artificial, mostly because they are unsustainable.

So, in the same way, that anxiety leads us towards avoidance, orgasm, alcohol or drugs etc. lead us towards repetition and/or addiction. In part, this problem is a collateral effect of language and our ability to be very creative with it. In that context, we have become so used to saying, "I love you" to people, to the point where it has very little value above or beyond its rhetorical or semantic meaning. Meaning, that, love is much more a cognitive experience, far less than it is an emotional one. However, the chemical correlates of the emotion of love, are very definitely emotional and emotion is intrinsically linked to the feeling side of life. And that is why life is a feeling experience and your perception of your life, ultimately, is based on how it feels!

The mechanism that creates love, chemically speaking, lays deep within your brain, it's a primordial process and in order to get its benefits, we need to learn how to manufacture it. The way we can do that is, ironically, through language but, with the exception that we pay more attention to bodily sensations (feelings) and far less to thoughts. Life, as an experience, becomes so much more enjoyable when we connect to the ambient feelings associated with each moment of now! The most effective way that I know of, as in, how we create this awareness, is through hypnosis. However, before you get to that point, there is the need to establish what are the psychological drivers of maladapted and dysfunctional behaviour! Hypnotherapy is a process that assists you in achieving that outcome. Once we get past the story, the narrative of our life, we move on to life in a much more functional and expressive way!

Hypnosis is a proven and effective way to achieve change at the level of your brain. Hypnotherapy can effectively rewrite the neural code that changes the way memory, or memories, expresses themselves, change that, and you change everything! Once these memories have been rewritten, the new neural code becomes mostly permanent.

Hypnotherapy stands out as one of the most effective strategic life management methods there is, especially in its ability to promote clear thinking and good states of mental wellness. The behaviours that make life challenging are often a result of too much stress, too little sleep and too little by way of clarity! So, to get or take back control of your mind and your life, it makes perfect sense to use a methodology that addresses the subconscious mind's role in perpetuating negative, vague and ambiguous states of mind. Hypnosis helps us to create calm relaxing states of mind that make life work better! If you would like to address any concerns you have in this direction, or, if you just want to make your life feel better,  then why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation? Hypnosis gives you the ability to have a good life! 

The objective here is to help people understand how and why we become illogically trapped into irrational emotional experiences that may actually be happening for reasons different to that which we would imagine! If you want to know more about how Hypnotherapy can help you; why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation?

For more information on the Free Consultation - Go Here - Or to book your Free Consultation today, you can do so Here

The Research:

Exposure to violence does not change the ability to learn who is likely to do harm, but it does damage the ability to place trust in "good people," psychologists at Yale and the University of Oxford report April 26 in the journal Nature Communications.

More than 80% of youth in urban areas experienced violence in their communities in the last year, and those experiences have a profound effect on their health, the researchers say.

"We know exposure to violence is related to negative life outcomes, from increased health and mental health problems to greater engagement in violent behaviour, but there is very little research on understanding the underlying cognitive processes that might be affected by this life experience," said Yale psychologist Arielle Baskin-Sommers, co-senior author of the paper.

Baskin-Sommers, her Yale colleague and co-senior author Molly Crockett, and graduate students Jenifer Siegel and Suzanne Estrada evaluated 119 males incarcerated in Connecticut prisons, some of whom scored high on exposure to violence. Participants learned about two strangers who faced a moral dilemma: whether to inflict painful electric shocks on another person in exchange for money. While the "good" stranger mostly refused to shock another person for money, the "bad" stranger tended to maximize their profits despite the painful consequences. The participants were asked to predict the strangers' choices and later had to decide how much trust to place in the good versus the bad stranger.

The team found that participants with higher exposure to violence effectively learned that the good stranger made fewer harmful choices than the bad stranger. However, when deciding whom to trust, they trusted the good stranger less than participants who had lower exposure to violence.

"In other words, exposure to violence disrupted the ability to place trust in the 'right' person," said Siegel, an Oxford doctoral student and first author of the paper. "We also saw that this disruption led to a greater number of disciplinary infractions within the prison setting."

Crockett said the findings suggest that exposure to violence changes the way people use the information they've learned to make healthy social decisions.

"Social flourishing depends on learning who is likely to be helpful vs. harmful, and then using that information to decide who to befriend versus avoiding," she said. "Our research suggests exposure to violence impairs this crucial aspect of social functioning."

Baskin-Sommers added, "The combination of exposure to violence and this specific cognitive disruption may leave certain individuals vulnerable to continually developing problematic social connections that limit their chances for psychosocial and economic stability."

The research was partially funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Yale University. Originally written by Bill Hathaway. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Another victim of violence: Trust in those who mean no harm." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 April 2019. <>.