Tuesday, November 1, 2016

1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree

I had an odd night last night, even for me, and that is saying something.  I spent half of it dreaming of an apocalypse, about which more in the next post, and the later hours of the morning processing another visit from what I called a demon in my last post about my dreams, but which I now realize is something else.

I don't know what percentage of the populace has lucid dreams--I'm sure there is a statistic somewhere--but I know it is less than 100%, so this may be hard to relate to for some.  I have been having them so many years that my main interest is in what they can show me.  I can and often have pushed my dreams one way or another, but I am increasingly learning just to listen, to interact, to actually HEAR or FEEL the message being given me, and stop being such a stupid cow.  It's not about what I can do or avoid, or run from or attack.  I have changed my mind in this respect since my last post on this.

Imagine if the very essence of fear could be embodied.  Imagine it as a swirling pattern of electrical energy that when it approaches fills you with dread and shivers and terror. That is what appeared next to my bed last night, in what otherwise appeared to be a waking state, in my room.  It was a lucid dream that simply happened to include this energy. The first time it happened I awoke.

Then I realized "I can deal with this", and fell back asleep, sensing it was still there.  And there it was, 6 inches from my face, to the side, as that is how I usually sleep.  And I looked at it, felt the fear and dread, tracked it across my back and in my chest and throat, and then pushed my hand into it.  I decided to learn from it what I could.  It roared at me energetically--it showed me teeth, but I couldn't feel any--and  I decided I could deal with it, and persisted.

I tried to send light through my hands and forehead.  I have been able on rare occasions in dreams to do that, but not tonight.  But I was able to summon curiosity with regard to more or less pure fear, and upon contemplating when I woke up, this is what I have decided.

There are three grades of fear, 2 unhealthy, one healthy and in any event unavoidable.

Level One Fear actuated by actual external events which are real--or which seem real physically--and which serves as an effective alarm system, and more or less intuitive extension of our normal perceptual apparatus.

Such fear in general, if managed, makes us MORE effective in many life and death situations.  Effective combat soldiers elicit it and welcome it. One Navy SEAL acquaintance of mine who is very active in parachuting and wingsuiting says he's only scared before, during and after the jumps.  Some years ago, I suggested to a guy creating a breaching course (the process of blowing doors open) that they do calisthenics before each drill to simulate elevated heart rate, and he said it was worked extremely well.  They need that adrenaline to perform at their peak.

But such fear only appears in response to ACTUAL threats.  This is the key point.

Level Two Fear is fear of the emotion of fear.  I will need to sort this out in coming days, but this might have something to do with PTSD.  I'll need to think about it.  Now, I see no compelling reason to ENJOY fear.  I don't go to haunted houses (real or pretend), or watch horror movies, or do dangerous things that frighten me.  It does seem to me all of those might be ways, though, of dealing with an on-going anxiety--I am going to say here, although I may change my mind, that anxiety is the fear of a variety of emotions, the fear of what COULD happen that will invoke some unpleasant emotion, of which fear is one example.

Let's expand on that a bit.  You feel social embarrassment.  You fear financial ruin.  You fear professional failure and unemployment.  You fear nuclear war.  You fear being mugged or raped.  You think--frontal cortex--about things which COULD happen, and these thoughts are presented to your limbic system as real, and it reacts accordingly, as if they were actually present threats, and you go into level one fear, which is the same as if the threat were actually present and happening.

Now there are no limits to the imaginative capacity of the human mind.  There is no reason you could not feel fear of everything at all times.  And particularly dealing with trauma--my own issue--hyper and hypoarousal are defining symptoms.  You KNOW what is possible.   You KNOW what it is like to feel fear that is so vast that it pops all the circuit breakers, and pushes you into a sub-human condition where your social systems are off-line, where even the simplest work is difficult, where almost anything can trigger a return.

Level 3 Fear is the Panic Attack.  The fear of the fear of fear.  Level 2 fear--chronic anxiety--thinks about the possibility of revisiting that primal event that took you off-line.  It is like fearing being mugged, but with the added insidious element that it recalls an onslought of feelings that pushed you far past your limit.  How will you deal this time?  How COULD you deal this time?  So this anxiety triggers flashbacks, and those flashbacks validate the anxiety, in a self reinforcing loop.

I think that is what happens.

And for people who cannot remember any traumas, the clear possibility of Developmental Trauma Disorder explains it.  Such a trauma could literally be as basic as a baby crying wanting its mother, the mother being in the bathroom, the baby escalating, the mother still not coming, then the baby going into panic mode.  My sense is if that happens ONCE--and my god babies cry a lot in their early years--then that seed is now planted.  Imagine how it is for the children of genuinely neglectful or even abusive mothers or fathers?

Once one ponders such things, the value of having an extended family at home appears much more obvious, at least to me.  If there are 3-4 women there, each of whom has a warm relationship with a child, that child will never suffer in that way.

And practically, I see pictures from around the world--Calcutta, Haiti, all around Africa--of children and adults laughing and smiling in physical conditions that would put most Westerners into prolonged depressions.  You cannot put a price on early childhood attachment.  It literally focuses and directs an entire lifetime.  Problems in this period cannot easily be corrected by therapy.

This post is not quite coherent.  I like to think I know when I am being coherent, and that feeling is not present.  But it is a starting point for later work.

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