We get bombarded by a 24 hour news circuit, designed specifically (IMHO) to heighten our sense of stress.
I’ll get to the political rant in a few paragraphs, but since I’m in the healing profession let’s talk about that stress response. Note that this is a very simplified explanation of a complex process in the body. If you want to learn more I’m including links for further research.
When the amygdala perceives stress it signals the hypothalamus to start cranking out CRH (which tells the pituitary to produce ACTH) so that your adrenals can produce cortisol. The key here is that any perceived stress stimulates both a hormonal and emotional response. When you’re faced with perceived danger your higher learning centers of the brain have no need to rationalize the danger. Your base instincts kick in; the higher emotions of advanced cognition, including planning, modeling and simulation take a break. This process is termed an amygdala hijack.
An amygdala hijack exhibits three signs: strong emotional reaction, sudden onset, and post-episode realization if the reaction was inappropriate. http://www.umass.edu/fambiz/articles/values_culture/primal_leadership.html
What in the world does this have to do with the 24 hour news circuit?
In short, it turns out that regular viewing of disturbing images can create a stress response that inhibits rational thought. This was first researched in response to the images of 9/11, which btw was the beginning of the 24 hour news reel.
Emotional trauma, even from things an innocuous as television, can impair the retrieval of long term memory, make us aggressive, inhibit rational thought and even create permanent or semi-permanent changes in your brain that predispose us to greater stress sensitivity.
In a nutshell
Everyone is terrified of terrorist attacks following the brutal attack on France.
This perceived danger changes our thought patterns and if left unchecked can change our brain structure.
I’ve seen more anti-Islam post on social media than I’ve ever seen before. Because of fear, many people are operating from their base instincts instead of engaging their higher brain functions and thinking from a place of rationale.
Some suggestions for all of us
I’ve seen overwhelming gory disaster firsthand in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. It hurts. It makes us compartmentalize our pain. An easy way to do that is to create arbitrary divisions like us vs them.
We are all humans. We are all afraid. How do we work through it?
Stop watching the continual news coverage of events. Once is enough, maybe too much. Read updates instead of watching them.
Look at the faces of them.
Find that place inside that recognizes them as us.
In your face graphic violence will inevitably inhibit rationale. Work through your fears by actively practicing rational thought processes.
Your odds of being killed by a terrorist attack are roughly 20,000,000 to 1.
You’re Much More Likely to Be Killed By obesity, medical errors, eating bad potato salad, texting while driving, toddlers, lightning, and falling out of bed, than by terrorists.
We don’t stop eating for fear of food poisoning. We don’t stop driving for fear of wrecks.
Don’t let fear control your thought processes. Don’t let the people attempting to instill terror in us win.
We are all in this together, one people, humankind.