The Reptilian Brain
Environmental Illness and Allergies
Where do they come from ?
Why do we have traumatic experiences ?
Paul D. MacLean, M.D., neurological scientist, discovered that the human brain is generally divided into 3 separate interacting functional structures. In his Triune Concept of Brain and Behaviour, 1969, he termed these structures Reptilian, Paleomammalian or Limbic, and, Neomammalian.
The Reptilian structure governs our so-called instinctual and stereotyped behaviors together with our ancestral learnings and our social "character". Also known as our repetition compulsion, intolerant, and neuroses bound behavior --- it provides a pattern of behavior which regulates our sleep, arousal, hunger, fear, temperature control and sexual drive. It has one basic mission: to keep the body alive. Do not mistake primitive with weak.
THE REPTILES OF THE EARTH, whose brain is little more than the simple Reptilian structure ... survived beyond the dinosaurs which had the additional Limbic structure. Whenever the Reptilian structure senses a danger which we are consciously unaware of, or, do not know how to constructively cope with --- it records the PATTERN of the event. It then initiates defensive behaviors intended to get us away from the danger.
IF A BEHAVIOR IS SUCCESSFUL, the Reptilian structure creates an IMAGE of the event in which many factors become associated with the perceived danger and linked to the defensive behavior. The next time that this set of factors begin to form into an event, the Reptilian structure automatically initiates the defense behavior which previously "worked". The Reptilian structure is committed to NEVER AGAIN allow the original traumatic event to occur again.
PROBLEMS ARISE WHEN the Reptilian structure starts the robot-like responses earlier and earlier in the formation of the original image, that is, with fewer and fewer associations. What is even more troublesome, is when the Reptilian structure has incorrectly associated some factors with a traumatizing event. Add to this that what "worked" in the first experience may not be the relevant constructive response in all such similar incidents. When our responses become reactions and our reactions become compulsions, relevancy can decide success or failure.
Survival intelligence depends on one having relevant constructive coping skills.
Do we have control over these patterned behaviors ?
YES and NO and SOMETIMES.
First, much of human learning until relatively recently has been based upon rote learning. That is where you memorize a poem, history facts, speeches, formulae, words, spelling, arithmetic tables, language, and other details by either verbal repetition or written repetition.
REPETITION impresses the information into our Unconscious, that is, our Reptilian structure. We have conscious control and choice over these patterns, if we choose to express it. Much of the time, we are rewarded for accepting the patterns impressed upon us by our parents, teachers, friends, spouse, and mentors.
DEPENDING UPON HOW WE ARE PREPARED with attitude and expectations and constructive responses, we may or may not exert much control over how we respond to emotional abuse. For some, severe and unjustified ridicule can be extremely emotionally hurtful (traumatizing). In such an instance, the individual may consciously or unconsciously avoid persons, locations, colors, background sounds and interactions which she or he associate with the original hurtful experience. Sometime, we are exposed to dangers which we are completely oblivious of ... while our sensing Reptilian structure goes into overdrive.
HYPERSENSITIVITY DEVELOPMENT MAY BE DELAYED.
Eight years before my extreme hypersensitive reaction to phenol mentioned above, I was accidentally exposed to a high concentration of this deadly chemical. In its refined state, phenol, is one of the most toxic substances commonly used in our industrialized and commercialized society. We use it as an insecticide, fungicide, herbicide, bactericide ... often foolishly and indiscriminately. It is added to adhesives, glues, allergy shots, antihistamines, aspirin, baking powders, cardboard, carpet backing, chocolate, citrus fruit, cough and cold medications, cosmetics, eye drops, first aid cremes, nasal sprays, plastics, plywood, shaving preparations, tin can inner surfaces, vitamin tablets, wood preservative, and is a major ingredient of Lysol spray.
PHENOLS ARE USED IN LABORATORIES including those in hospitals.
Their primary use is as a disinfectant. Staff not protected with suitable masks and skin protection during their use of it ... have developed hypersensitivities. In my own case, I was working in an office services department of a major government institution when I was severely exposed on two occasions. This basement location had synthetic, rubber-backed ozite carpet-tile flooring. Late on a Friday afternoon, once each month, after the staff had left and the air circulation system was turned off and, --- an exterminator sprayed the perimeter of the basement floor with a phenol solution.
ACCORDING TO SAFETY REGULATIONS, no human was to be in the building for at least 24 hours after the spraying, and, typically, the building was vacant for the weekend. The institutional routine failed. I wasn't an ordinary 9.00 - 4.30, Monday-Friday institutional employee. During this time, and for a period of perhaps two months, I stayed behind and worked overtime on a special project for 2 to 4 hours after closing.
The usual extermination technician had gone on holidays during part of my overtime period and his replacement confused the schedule. He came twice within two weeks rather than once every four weeks. No one informed me of the spraying or the precautions which were to be taken. The results were disastrous.
THERE WAS A POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY for a good promotion for me and I had good reviews and referrals to assist me. Some frustrations arose over the fact that I was doing twice the work in the job description and the department head was making little effort to upgrade the position description. Regulations would require that action and report to justify an increase in wage. I had recently married and new adjustments were having to be made. The expression of my personality slowly but dramatically changed during the period --- without my awareness or concern --- and in line with the less dramatic symptoms of phenol toxicity. These include added tiredness and irritability (liver and kidney injury), lack of concentration, mental confusion, forgetfulness, depression, social withdrawal.
POSITIVE PREVIOUS CHARACTER TRAITS of patience, empathy, and perseverance evaporated. I confidently and aggressively pushed the job reclassification and promotion process and when nothing seemed to be going anywhere, I openly rebelled against the senior management. I quit with great optimism against the pleadings of two in-company mentors I much respected. One despaired at my loss from his department; the other despaired at my possible difficulties in a tight job market. My Reptilian structure simply wanted me out of that building. It would give me whatever symptoms drove me to that conclusion. It was saving my health ... and destroying me socially and professionally!
There went an opportunity.
MARRIAGES ALWAYS LOSE OUT TO HYPERSENSITIVITIES.
My recent marriage was to last little more than several months.
My first marriage had lasted 12 years, with a major few difficulties. While this marriage should possibly never have taken place for other reasons not important here --- when greater effort and better communication was required --- it just never happened. It was out-of-character for me not to have communicated better and taken more of a team approach. What would later be seen as small difficulties became huge in my consciousness ... and my tolerance disappeared into anxiety and depression. The emotional conflict --- poorly expressed and poorly coped with by all parties --- almost cost me a new job opportunity, until ...
PEOPLE REPRESENT SOURCES OF STRESS.
They can be positive or negative stressors; they are not neutral.
The more important a person is to you, the greater is the intensity of the stress they represent, for good or ill. I separated from my wife and returned to a company with a request for a second interview. The interviewer almost could not believe the change in attitude and presentation which were now revealed. My negative stress level had been reduced to compensate for the phenol hypersensitivity. I felt as if a tremendous burden had been lifted and I was myself again. I got the job and divorced my wife. But was this an opportunity lost or gained, or both.
THE TRUE REALITY OF OUR ACTIONS is not always clear immediately.
I knew nothing about what hypersensitivities were.
I knew no one who knew that had such an illness.
I did not understand that chemicals, foods, forms of radiation, or patterns of experience could take control of and twist a person's personality --- for a few minutes, a few days, a few months, a few years. I did not know about the structure of the brain, nor the importance which each contributes to our identity. And that lack of awareness and lack of preparation was disastrous for me then ... and for millions of others before and since.
MY PERSONALITY DEFENSES WERE POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVE.
They got me out of the "dangerous" building that I consciously did not know was dangerous. My Reptilian Brain Structure had determined that the building was dangerous. It would not, and could not accept anything else. Other negative stresses were made larger-than-life by the presence of a life-threatening negative stress. Too much negative stress and a person dies. My Reptilian Structure was taking no chances at losing. It ruthlessly cut my negative stresses by ending frustrating relationships ... even at the expense of constructive relationships as well. Interpersonal communication contributes about 80% of the negative stress experienced by North Americans.
Interpersonal relations are expendable to the Reptilian mind when survival is in question. Had I known what is on these pages then, or, known someone who knew it ... and, had others around me who understood what hypersensitivities were ... there could have been other choices. You really don't want a hypersensitive reaction to control your life.
YOU CAN AVOID, DIMINISH, AND RECOVER from environmental hypersensitivities. I had 36 hypersensitivities of which 5 gave me life threatening symptoms. I recovered fully within a period of 2 years while experimenting to find out what was effective. The knowledge I gained from that period and the following years of assisting others has enabled me to recover from a series of both acute and normally chronic illnesses.
When I was born, my health was marginal at best. I survived.
For most of the first 45 years of my life, I learned to accept poor health as a given and work on in denial. Decades of working 12-hour days 7-days-a week with extreme levels of negative stress eventually resulted in almost complete burnout of each of my organ systems. Thankfully, my brain and spirit survived with enough strength to sequentially reclaim and rejuvenate each organ system.
By 2004, I will have lived 16 years longer than hypersensitivities were going to allow. In addition, I have recovered from half a dozen near fatal illnesses in the past half dozen years. My body is already stronger than when I was born. Most of the damage done to it in the interim has now been eliminated. You can turn back the clock!
YOU CAN RECOVER your balance of health, or, at the very least --- improve your health, lengthen your life and live with more contentment with the information on these pages as a guide.
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