The term amygdala hijack refers to an immediate and intense emotional response that is disproportionate to a situation. In other words, it is when someone seriously overreacts to something or someone.
Goleman’s term seeks to recognize that the brain has an ancient structure – the amygdala, that is designed to respond quickly to a threat.
In today’s world, where threats are often subtler, the amygdala can interfere with our functioning since it has been designed for defending us from danger.
Amygdala hijack symptoms
You may have the following experiences:
- a fast heartbeat;
- sweaty palms;
- Clammy skin;
An amygdala seizure can lead to unreasonable or inappropriate behavior. Other symptoms such as bewilderment and regret may occur after an amygdala hijack.
How to calm the amygdala?
You can use Gupta’s Program. It is a revolutionary “brain retraining” exercise called “Insula and Amygdala Retraining” that reawakens the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Other methods of therapy are not as effective as this.
Amygdala hijack causes
The thalamus, an area of the brain that acts as a relay station for sensory information, receives the first sensory information as soon as we see, hear, touch, or taste something. The thalamus then transmits this information to the neocortex (“thinking brain”). From there, it travels to the amygdala (“emotional brain”), which triggers the corresponding emotional response.
However, when a threatening situation arises, the thalamus sends sensory information to both the amygdala and the neocortex. Upon sensing danger, the amygdala initiates a fight-or-flight reaction before the neocortex has time to cancel it.
This cascade of events triggers the release of stress hormones, including the hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
These hormones prepare your body to run or fight, by raising your heart rate, raising your blood pressure, and boosting your energy levels, etc.
We are faced with many symbolic, evolutionary threats today, but our brain has evolved to deal with physical threats to our survival which require a rapid reaction. As a result, our body still reacts to biological changes. Which prepares us to fight or flee, even though there is no real physical threat that we must fight against.
Amygdala hijack treatment
The best way to prevent seizure of the amygdala is to increase your emotional intelligence. Understanding and managing your emotions is what constitutes emotional intelligence.
An emotionally intelligent person has strong connections between the emotional center of the brain and the executive (thought) center.
Emotionally intelligent people know how to ease their emotions by becoming involved, focused, and attentive to their thoughts and feelings.
There are some people who are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others. Like many other skill sets, emotional intelligence can be developed. One way is to practice mindfulness.
Knowing your stressors and recognizing when acute daily stress has turned into chronic stress can also prevent amygdala trapping. If you are constantly under stress, stress management techniques can help.
Effective stress management should include fast-acting stress relievers (such as breathing exercises) for immediate stress relief in stressful situations. As well as healthy habits that reduce overall stress (such as exercise, meditation, and journaling).