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How the Crocodile Can Take Over

November 14, 2012

The Supersensitive Neural Network, which I will abbreviate from now on as SNN, is a term that I created which refers to the neural circuits that, because of past traumas experienced, become more “on guard” than usual. The reaction by the limbic system (crocodile) becomes stronger and faster each time it is activated. For example, a soldier who has been attacked many times quickly develops a reaction to even the slightest sight or sound with very fast fight or flight reactions. However, when this same soldier, no longer in danger, hears the sound of a car back-firing, his SNN may react by preparing to fight or flee. This reaction is a trait of what we commonly call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

These SNN patterns get stronger with repeated negative experiences. The crocodile, with its boosted SNN, evaluates every situation that arises in relationships to see if it needs to protect itself. When the crocodile is frightened, the speed of its reaction takes over and, if unchecked, it begins talking or acting unwisely.

Noted neuroscientist Dr. Joseph LeDoux, feels that the memories of early interactions are stored in our brains as rough and wordless blueprints. This can explain the puzzling experience of an angry outburst that has no logical basis. A person’s fight or flight reaction can come from a time in life when they couldn’t really understand what was happening, yet had a strong emotional response. Dr. LeDoux calls these “precognitive emotions.” In this way, our crocodile’s SNN colors what we think and do.

For me, growing up with a very critical mother, my crocodile was always “on guard”, and thus is very strong. Now when I lecture to large audiences, I look out over the audience and my crocodile tells me to be afraid because it knows “someone” sitting out there is ready to criticize me. My crocodile reaction makes me want to run away.

One day, at the beginning of one of my presentations, I decided to experiment with my crocodile’s incorrect interpretation of the situation. I confessed to the audience that, since my mother was always critical of me, it would help me a great deal if they smiled, so I’d know they were my friends. They smiled and laughed. My crocodile relaxed and then my owl was in charge. It has been successful every time both as an example of what I am talking about here and in making me more comfortable speaking to an audience.who's talking now, Dr. Boorstein, SNN, Crocodile, Owl

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