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Anxiety - an emotion caused by the anticipation of real, remembered, or imagined danger, trouble or misfortune. Fright - Dread - Terror - Horror - Panic - Alarm - Worry - Dismay - Consternation - Trepidation
(Fear - an emotion caused by the presence of a real or imagined danger, trouble. or misfortune.)
This Medical explanation is really helpful, remember though our minds and bodies are highly complex creations and we need to take this information along with all other research as we seek out the truth about how we work.The amygdala (a-mig-dala)(Greek word for almond - because it is about the size of an almond) is situated in the centre of our brain near the brain stem near the bottom of the limbic ring. There are two of them. This amygdala acts as a storehouse of emotional memory. People whose amygdala has been surgically removed lose all recognition of feelings in others or themselves. Incoming signals from the senses lets the amygdala scan every experience for trouble, like a virus scan. With every incoming perception the questions are asked: "Is this something that hurts me? Is this something I fear? Is this something I hate? If the situation or perception draws a yes then the amygdala reacts instantaneously, like a neural tripwire, sending messages of crisis to all parts of the brain. It triggers the secretion of the body's fight or flight hormones, e.g., speed heart rate, raise blood pressure, tense muscles etc. It releases neurotransmitters that make the body more alert. It has an extensive web of neural connections that allow it in an 'emotional emergency' to capture and drive the rest of the brain.
The perceptions from the senses are firstly sent to the thalamus (central command centre) which then sends the signals to the various levels of brain circuits. The route to the amygdala is very short, one synapse and the amygdala can respond before the neo cortex (thinking cognitive part of brain), which processes information though several levels before it initiates a more finely tuned response. This means we can have an emotional response to something before the thinking part of our brain has even registered a situation. Some emotional reactions can be formed without any conscious or cognitive participation. I have already mentioned that the amygdala is the storehouse of emotional memory. It works together with the hippocampus which registers context. e,g. If you try to pass a truck on a highway and nearly get into a terrible accident because another truck pull over in front of you then your hippocampus will remember the specifics of the accident, what the stretch of road looked like: who was with you and what the truck looked like. But the amygdala will ever after send a surge of anxiety through you whenever you try to pass a truck in similar circumstances.
Often the neural alarms the amygdala sends are out of date. (Truth Coach here could be, 'That was then, now is now, I can make a more appropriate (adult or mature) response') As it scans our present life it uses an associative method of comparison to determine what emotional response needs to be released. So when one key element of the present situation is similar to the past it calls a 'match' and acts before the situation can be confirmed. In this way we can receive thoughts, emotions and reactions that belong to an old event. The trouble is that many of our potent emotional memories can belong to our early years of life. The amygdala is formed much earlier than other brain structures and matures much more quickly. Therefore emotions can be stored in the amygdala before the infant has words for the experience, so when these emotions are triggered in later life there is no matching set of thoughts. That is how we can be baffled by our emotional outbursts and tend to give the blame to the person who 'caused' them.