Yesterday I helped a guy use EFT to tap through his fear of spiders. Today I read this NYTimes article titled The Brain and the Roots of Fear. Here’s why I think these are related –
- our fears get stuck in our lives.
- this article explains what part of our brain holds our fears.
- eft can sometimes free us from the fears
This guy has worked terribly hard to overcome his fear of spiders. He acquired the fear at age three – now he has grandkids in high school. Even though he no longer freaks out at the thought of a spider, there’s no comfort around this issue. Haflway through the tapping, after he’d clarified he could now stand being around spiders much better than before, I changed the lead words to.
“I fear the fear of spiders.”
He nodded his head in affirming recognition. No longer frantically afraid of spiders, this man had actually been locked in a BATTLE against his fear. Yet even now he feared that without the effort his fear would return. No relaxing, no reprieve, by virtue of his efforts, he had taken down the edge of that fear to his current level of toleration. “I fear the fear of spiders.”
Professor Joseph LeDoux’s article, The Brain and the Roots of Fear, explains how fear and anxiety are picked up and processed by the amygdala in the brain. It turns out this place where fear and anxiety go is different from the place in the brain where we make our rational decisions. So this man who had worked so hard to overcome his fear of spiders was doing all the work in a part of his brain that was different from where the fear was stored. No wonder it felt like a battle to him! He never had a chance to address the place in his brain where the fear of spiders resided. He knew in his rational mind that spiders were small things and he had no rational reason for his fear, but the rationalization only worked while he was doing the rationalization. As soon as he stopped thinking those rational thoughts, the amygdala place in his brain was still there with the memories stored and active.
In twenty minutes of tapping this man’s fear of spiders reduced to an intensity of ZERO. “I don’t know what I’d actually feel if I saw a spider right now, but I don’t believe that I’d react in fear.”
He’ll need to see a spider to test whether the tapping removed all his spider issues. If not, he can tap for whatever comes up and reduce those intensities as well.
What’s going on here? What’s the promise of tapping? I believe the promise of tapping is related to this article by Joseph LeDoux. When dangerous and fear-inspiring events happen in our lives, the amydala takes care of them. We try dealing with those fears through rational processes, but rational thoughts don’t touch the place where fear resides. Tapping does seem to touch this place where fears get stored. And tapping does vocalize things in ways that connect to our rational processes. Somehow this combination is often exceedingly effective in reducing anxieties in people’s lives.
Check out this article sometime when you get a chance, The Brain and the Roots of Fear.