I read this interesting piece from the book: “Mindsight” by Dr. Daniel Siegel.
Chapter 7: Cut Off From the Neck Down, Reconnecting the Mind and the Body.
The chapter starts with this patient who came saying that her life felt empty and meaningless. She seemed disconnected and cold. In details the author talks about how the patient’s early life was filled with unfair opportunities. The turning point for the patient was when she promised herself that she "would never feel anything again". She was 11.
The author explains: to cope with those difficult situations we build our own defensive mechanisms whether for example by ignoring the situation, concentrating on the positive side (optimism) or by projecting those experience on others and then hating them for it.
By building these defense mechanisms, we build a firewall around our awareness to protect us from those feelings, but by doing that you filter out both the good and the bad feelings. The ACC “Anterior Cingular Cortex”, located in the middle prefrontal cortex in the brain, regulates our awareness.
The ACC is responsible for many things:
- The pain for social rejection and the physical pain are both in the ACC.
- “It's the area between our thinking cortex and our feeling limbic regions.”
- “It registers physical sensations from the body and feelings from our social interactions.”
- “It regulates the focus of our attention.”
- “It links body, emotion attention social awareness.”
- It’s responsible for letting us feel connected.
The problem with shutting down the ACC is not only with filtering the good feelings out but with the fact that even if you removed the pain from your awareness it still has an affect on you, your decision making and your body. Feelings will still be there in our nervous system, brainstem and the limbic areas. You’re eliminating the awareness only.
Think about it!
*note: There are so many other details in the chapter*.