Have you ever felt numb or blank when someone shared some really horrible news with you? Have you ever tried to discuss some large global issue that is painful or difficult to speak about, and experienced the other person getting a very blank expression on their face, walking away, or responding that nothing can be done, so why bother talking about it? Did you know this reaction is completely normal?
This very frustrating, flat and emotionless reaction to seemingly bad news is called ‘psychic numbing’. As a global village, much or most of humanity is subject to this psychological state either temporarily or permanently. There is so much bad news going on all around us, on a daily basis, and the amount of information flowing towards the average person is overwhelming. The combination of information overload, bad news, stress and not knowing what to do with the flood of negative emotions that can come up, often leaves people feeling completely completely helpless and powerless. Rather than experience emotions or feel pain, it is easier to avoid feeling anything. This article goes into the issue of psychic numbing, discusses what causes it and how to move beyond it.
Six-minute documentary overview of Dr. Slovic’s research on psychic numbing and genocide. Produced in the Spring of 2008 by Desiree Aflleje, Emese Foss, and Jon Palfreman at the University of Oregon.
Wikipedia; “Psychic numbing is a tendency for individuals or societies to withdraw attention from past experiences that were traumatic, or from future threats that are perceived to have massive consequences but low probability. Psychic numbing can be a response to threats as diverse as financial and economic collapse, nuclear terrorism, pandemics caused by genetic engineering, and global warming
The original concept of psychic numbing argued by Robert Jay Lifton
was that it manifests itself collectively. This means that a society or a culture adapts this withdrawn attention outlook and collectively applies it to current issues.
Robert Jay Lifton: “Beyond Psychic Numbing: A Call to Awareness”
Lifton’s 4 Focal Points:
Hiroshima as a text for “psychic numbing”
What are nuclear weapons doing to us? (Nuclear fundamentalism)
Hope for the future
Lifton’s main area of focus was the Hiroshima bombing
during World War II. He broke up his analysis of the bombing into psychological stages that spread at the societal level. Lifton’s article, “Beyond Psychic Numbing: A Call to Awareness”,
addressed a concern that was new at the time: nuclear warfare
. He argued now that there is a single weapon in the world that can cause so much damage, humans need to be more alert and confront the images of nuclear power and an ever increasing nuclear actuality.
There is a societal understanding now that countries can create nuclear weapons; this led to Lifton’s coining of the term “nuclear fundamentalism”.
All these are argued by Lifton to be beneficial at times, however rather inadequate for helping people feel better about the ubiquity of nuclear weapons and potential warfare. There needs to be a sense of control
in order to comprehend the consequences of nuclear warfare as well as strategies to combat the psychological grip it has on individuals.
Lifton’s final argument regarding hope for the future is that society must take action. He uses Vietnam
veterans as a reference point.
He has worked with them before and noticed partial changes, while he agrees this is good, society must adapt an awareness that aims to teach and educate as opposed to avoiding and withdrawing from the potential threats to survival
Planet Earth 911 Emergencies And Global Threats
Psychic numbing has been associated with post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) because they share the same attributes of withdrawal and behavioral changes when presented with a stimuli that triggers a reminder of the traumatic event or with a very intense neutral stimuli.
The observable emotional response is not enough to understand the concept of psychic numbing. Therefore, neuroscience and the biological activity that occurs within the brain is employed to give people a better understanding of the thought process of individuals who engage in psychic numbing.
Studies have also focused on the habituation of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex
The rACC is part of the limbic system
, which is responsible for emotional processing. It is hypothesized that the rACC determines the, “correct allocation of attention based resources to emotionally aversive stimuli.”.
This means it may play an active role in identifying important behavioral responses necessary to comprehend the consequences of the aversive stimuli.
The limbic system also includes areas that are important for memory consolidation. The relationship between all the areas in the limbic system is an area of interest for psychic numbing because it encapsulates two factors that contribute to the phenomenon: emotions and memory.
These studies are also a good paradigm for the understanding of psychic numbing because they considers sustained aversive material and how the brain reacts in a habitual manner in an effort to remove the underlying emotional content.
helps regulate the stress response via the negative feedback
loop, which are activated when a person is subjected to specific situations that trigger the relationship between the emotionally charged memories of the traumatic event and the observable autonomic responses.
Stress can also be considered a brain-body reaction due to external or internal cues
this can include the environment as well as memory. The areas of the brain that communicate with one another are the prefrontal cortex
, nucleus accumbens
, and thehypothalamus
. Through a series of feedback processes, the release of specific neurotransmitters as well as neuromodulators occurs.
MRI posterior cingulate
(ACTH) is released from the anterior pituitary
, which triggers the release ofglucocorticoids
from the adrenals. The chronic exposure to stress affects organisms that deal with daily activities and it also interferes with one’s coping mechanisms.
Once the HPA axis
is activated, it triggers an increase in glucocorticoids. Once these hormones cross the blood–brain barrier, they interact with other neurotransmitters and change the brain’s chemistry as well as structure.
The process of habituation is important to consider because it is a prevalent variable in the phenomenon of psychic numbing. The constant exposure a society or individual has to a prolonged and sustained aversive stimuli, the emotional magnitude that the stimuli has decreases greatly over time to where it becomes unnoticeable to those who have been surrounded by it for a long period of time. This type of response is seen in Vietnam veterans and rape victims who suffer from PTSD.
Additionally, studies describe the importance of the rACC and the cingulate cortex for comprehension and the feeling of a painful stimulus.
Taiwanese and American researchers recorded brain-wave readings from participants as the researchers observed body parts pricked with a pin, or dabbed with a Q-tip. Half of the subjects were physicians and the other half was a control group. The control group showed clear differences in his or her reactions to the pin-prick in comparison to the Q-tip.
The physicians, who previously had experience managing sickness and pain, did not. The authors of the study theorized that the physicians unconsciously numbed their reaction to the pain of the pin-prick due to his or her profession. This may be a beneficial result because physicians need to block out the pain response and use more cognitive resources necessary for being of assistance in a time of need.
This further suggests the individual differences people have in regards to psychic numbing and the deviation away from more tragic accounts of rape and PTSD. This type of desensitization is not independent of the participant’s lives, instead it is a result of years of experience woven into his or her daily lives, resulting in a numbed response. Figures of areas of the control group’s brains showed activation in the rACC, and the physician’s brains did not, suggesting there was already habituation.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychic_numbing
Normative graphs of the value of life saving
The original view of psychic numbing dealt with human extinction
and the mass response to potentially life-threatening scenarios. Lifton argued the worry for these events was low and therefore generated an equally low probability of occurrence point of view.
This repeated exposure makes man numb to the possibility that an event of that nature can occur. However, when asked to recall the probability that mass extinction will occur, people have a tendency to think counter-intuitively and rate the probability as high when it is in fact low and behaviorally respond opposite to his or her rating.
Additionally, much of the individualist view comes from studying the behavioral traits of people who suffer from PTSD. Focus groups, clinical cases, as well as religion play a crucial role in one’s ability to cope with the stress of traumatic stimuli.
Many studies have been conducted that address the value of these therapeutic interventions as well as their efficacy. There is a strong connection to depersonalization
, emotional numbing, as well as dissociation from one’s identity. This shows the shift of psychic numbing from a collectivist view to an individualistic view.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychic_numbing
Robert Jay Lifton spearheaded the psychic numbing movement and his concentration was on a much larger scale. Psychic numbing is about the way a culture or society withdraws from issues that would otherwise be too overwhelming for the human mind to comprehend. In this respect, psychic numbing is a societal reaction to impending doom, chaos, and ultimately mankind’s extinction.
, a prominent psychologist in the realm of risk, maintains the original interpretation posited by Lifton. Slovic’s article, “Psychic Numbing and Mass Atrocity”, returns to the collectivist model and most notably confronts the value of saving a human’s life. The figures to the right denote both arguments for the hypothesized value of saving a human’s life as well as the true value of saving a human’s life established through Slovic’s empirical research.
Slovic introduced the concept of psychophysical numbing, which is the diminished sensitivity to the value of life and an inability to appreciate loss.
Essentially, the proportion of lives saved is more important than the number of lives saved.
One of Slovic’s arguments for this outcome is that people suffer from innumeracy
and cannot comprehend the emotional connotation associated with large numbers.
The threshold, as stated by Slovic, where people cannot comprehend the emotional magnitude of the loss of life is two, as shown in the figure.
Graph of the value of saving a human life
Slovic also points to Weber’s law
, which states the difference between two stimuli is proportional to the magnitude of the stimuli. Additionally, Weber’s law focuses on the just-noticeable difference between the two stimuli. Slovic addressed Weber’s law from a different context – he considered the magnitude and value of a human life. Slovic took Weber’s law and incorporated prospect theory
, which is decision making based on potential gains and losses, not the actual final outcome. Slovic found that when prospect theory and Weber’s law are analyzed in regards to human life, the value of saving human lives is greater for a smaller tragedy than for a larger one.
These are all considered collectivist views of psychic numbing because they encapsulate a general theory of mind held by the majority of citizens in a society. Additionally, these views remain consistent with the original concept of which collective avoidance and attention withdrawal becomes the active state of mind in regards to potential threats of mass extinction.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychic_numbing
INDIVIDUALIST – PTSD
Psychic numbing, as it shifts away from the collectivist view, is a common characteristic of people who suffer from PTSD. A general definition of psychic numbing is a diminished response to the external world.
There are three elements that attribute to psychic numbing:
Loss of interest in activity
detachment from others
restricted range of affect
These two mechanisms promote the inability to engage emotionally with a traumatic memory (acceptance), thus impairing the process of recovery
Susan Gill bridges the disciplines of social psychology and neuropsychology in her analysis of psychic numbing by explaining that there are notable behavioral changes, the most typical trait is being zombie-like and in a “dead-zone
The relationship between being overwhelmed and completely shutting down. The state of being overwhelmed is different than complete shut-down. Overwhelmed responses follow moderate to prolonged stressful states and result in an active effort to regain control.
The neurochemical states associated with dissociative behavior are not metabolized, that is they become perpetual and frozen in time, which causes the deviation from normal behavior. The very anatomy of the brain can be manipulated under extreme cases of psychic numbing. The neurochemical reactions fail to metabolize and result in lack of synaptic connections and neuronal firing with no dendritic connections. There is also a loop of the same information that fails to connect with other areas of the brain, which results in the inability to get out of the “dead-zone”.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychic_numbing
Religion is also considered to be an internalized coping mechanism. The role of religious values in coping with life-threatening illnesses is another individualistic trait that people use to cope with the behavioral side-effects associated with the diseases.
Depersonalization is a very prominent behavioral trait associated with cancer
patients. Findings show that people with cancer cope no worse than non-cancer patients.
Cancer patients tend to blunt his or her experiences as a means of handling a painful reality. Avoidance and denial are typical tendencies of psychic numbing. Cancer patients also report a self-distancing mechanism, and take on a third-person perspective as a means of dealing with the life-threatening disease
It is argued that putting one’s life within a framework of religion is a very important part of the coping process.
This religious framework helps the patients understand that some things are out of one’s control. As discussed earlier, a lack of control over one’s stressful stimuli generates a degree of psychic numbing. However, by putting his or her life-threatening disease within a religious framework takes the mystery out of the disease and adds a sense of control.
As discussed earlier, the perceived sense of control as well as actual control are important contributors to adequately coping with psychic numbing.
As described earlier, research on psychic numbing has suggested that people who become desensitized to suffering may be more adept in dealing with an upsetting or dangerous situation.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychic_numbing
NUCLEAR DENIAL DISORDER
Many individuals fail to react affectively to the overwhelming threat of annihilation by nuclear warfare, and in 1987 Thomas C. Wear termed this nuclear denial disorder, a type of psychic numbing. It involves the over-use of a denial defense mechanism, and “an apathetic business-as-usual attitude toward the threat of nuclear annihilation
Via YukonRadiation September 10, 2014
“Ok time to go crazy here! this is getting very hard to watch as nobody but a few are facing the facts that we are being bombed by RADIATION and nobody at least anybody I try and tell wants to believe or even worse, wants to do anything about it! I am very tired of people’s come back saying oh well nothing we can do anyways so who cares!!!!!!
So I ask, am I telling it wrong or what? UNREAL!”
SadieDog September 10, 2014
“Yukon, you are not alone. Most people can’t break out of their programming enough to care. Between TV, crappy food, a totally fake, scripted and controlled media and all types of poisons and toxins hitting us everyday, it’s not surprising. Add in the fact that the truth in all forms has been marginalized to something that is considered only when it is beneficial, not as a rule or something to strive for.”
“Truth tellers are attacked and labeled as fearmongers, conspiracy theorists, or alarmists. Many lose their jobs, can’t get any more work, are jailed or disappeared; such as Snowden, and many other whistleblowers.. It takes a brave soul to stand up and tell the truth, whether one is saying the Earth is round when everyone knows the Earth is flat, or saying that the Carrington Event will destroy all life on the planet if nuclear plants are not turned off in time.
Psychic Numbing From Nuclear Dread
A reading about nuclear war from DOLORES PARK by Michael Lyons, describing how nuclear dread spreads to other areas of the brain and life
Via RobG September 10, 2014
In a recent interview with ABC (Australia), Helen Caldicott was asked how she copes with the stress that comes from being so aware of all these (nuclear) horrors. Caldicott replied that she does not have “the psychic numbing that most people have” (about 3 mins in), and later on in the interview states that what keeps her going is that she truly believes she can change things:
Even in the middle of a nuclear war, nuclear accident, ship sinking or other disaster, people refuse to ‘believe’ it is happening, and stay in a state of denial, disbelief or apathy. This state of being is very common, and most people stay ignorant, asleep and/or in denial, rather than face a painful and horrific reality. This state of trying to be or see things as staying absolutely normal in the middle of a crisis situation is called the ‘normalcy bias’.
Titantic and Costa Concordia – Example of Normalcy Bias In Fukushima Mega Disaster; via @AGreenRoad
WAR AND PSYCHIC NUMBING
Violence and psychic numbing are intertwined and related. The more a nation or person is numbed emotionally and dumbed down mentally, the more violence and/or never ending war seems like the solution. PBS and Bill Moyer talk about this, via the following link..
Transcript: Bill Moyers Interviews Robert Jay Lifton
War also causes more psychic numbing (PTSD) as a direct result of being involved in it and killing people, or watching others being killed. Camillo “Mac” Bica, Ph.D., coordinator of Veterans For Peace Long Island, speaks to a class studying the Vietnam War at the Flushing International High School, in the video above.
One potential way to come out of a state of psychic numbing is to start a dream journal, talk, write, blog, do a diary, draw, paint or express via movement the feelings and thoughts coming up. 12 step groups are one way to approach and deal with psychic numbing that can then lead into one of dozens of addictions.
TV, MEDIA AND PSYCHIC NUMBING
Much or most of the mass media and most large corporate enterprises are concerned with keeping people in a state of apathy, fear, behaving like powerless victims. TV consists largely of psychic numbing. Many people use TV and junk food as a way to escape reality and real feelings. TV is a fake, virtual reality. Because a person can use TV to avoid dealing with or talking about painful situations, it is easy to get in a habit of being hypnotized by the box on the wall, and avoid or deny reality.
It is not easy to ‘wake up’, feel all of the emotions, (many of them are painful), become intuitive, vulnerable, open but aware, and act from the heart while feeling the love that is part of reality.
APATHY, WHY DON’T WE CARE ANYMORE?
An overview of this most powerful emotional feeling of disconnecting with the reality surrounding us. Not meaning to offend anyone but apathy is killing us. Our problems are getting worse because we don’t care anymore. What can we do? View the video, as the answer is very simple and easy to do.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WAKE UP?
The movie ‘The Matrix’ was a science fiction story set in the future, where the Matrix had taken over, and people were not even aware of it. Almost everyone was plugged into the Matrix, which they thought was the only reality. But a small group of people ‘woke up’ and were not under the spell of the Matrix, and worked on getting others to wake up as well.
What Is The Matrix, And What Does It Mean To Take The Red Pill?
Abraham Hicks – Speaks about Depression and Anxiety
In this video Abraham speaks about Depression and anxiety. If you are going through a really bad spell in your life or if you do get depressed at times. Listen to this video.
Bottom line, if we look at the larger problems only, there is no solution and no action. But if look without judgement, fear, blame, shame or guilt at the larger problems, just staying open and curious, and then ask, what can I do, an answer will come. There are many solutions, and many things that can be done, especially if one is not trapped in a state of denial, normalcy bias or psychic numbing.
Humanity Has A Bright, Green, Sustainable Future And Destiny; Here Is How You Can Help Make Solution Happen
Spiritual, Interfaith, Consciousness; How To Create Heaven On Earth
The answers are always there. Your answer will involve an action that can be taken by one person, on a local or personal level, which will make a difference in some small way. Combine those small actions and one ends up with a massive change on a global level. This is the rule for getting beyond psychic numbing, no matter where or how it shows up. As Mother Teresa puts it;
“If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”
Stay in your heart, feel your feelings, and go deeper into them. Talk about your feelings, and own them, without judgement, blame, guilt, or shame. Ask what you can do personally to make a difference, and the answer will be there, if not instantly, then very soon. Once you get the answer, act on it. Repeat the process. Another action will present itself. Get involved, stay active and be aware of when the temptation to go into psychic numbing, denial or normalcy bias rears it’s head. Every person is important. Never give up.
WHAT HAPPENS IF PEOPLE DON’T MOVE BEYOND PSYCHIC NUMBING?
Via Gasser September 11, 2014 Bob Dylan; A hard rain is a-gone fall
Go here first for the full effect
Oh, where have you been, my blue eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled around the sides of three exploded Nuclear reactors
I’ve walked an crawled through their broken crooked pipe ways
I’ve stepped in the middle of sizzling Plutonium puddles
I’ve been out in front of a dozen radioactive dead oceans
I’ve seen ten thousand body’s mounded in graveyards.
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
As Actinide rain’s are gonna fall.
Oh, what did you see, my blurred eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my decaying young one?
I saw dying deformed baby’s with doctors all around’em
I saw a Freeway of weeds with nobody on it
I saw wet black mould with Cesium that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their Muller tubes a glowin’
I saw many fuel racks all covered with explosion debris
I saw ten thousand NRC talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw contaminated food in hands and mouth’s of young children.
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
It’s a hard…..as Bucky ball rain’s are a fallen’.
And what did you hear, my blind eye son?
And what did you hear, my fading young one?
I heard sounds of reactor explosions, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a Tsunami, contaminating the whole world
Heard sounds of spent fuel pools fires that were a blazin’
Heard ten thousand screaming’ and nobody listenin’
Heard !STOP THE NUKE! cry,
I heard rich people laughin’
Heard pissed off Blanch who told truth from the gutter
Heard the sound of a Scientist who cried in an empty Lab.
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And Cesium rain’s are now fallen’.
Oh, who did you meet, my no eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling dead one?
I met a deformed child beside a three head pony
I met a glowing blue man dragging a red dying dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a tumored girl, she gave me a Krypton 85 rainbow
I met many men who’s body’s are Fukushima polluted
I met meny more who’s minds are Dieichie diluted.
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a Plutonium rain already a fallen’.
Oh, what’ll you do now, my truth open blue eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young wisdom one?
I want to naturalize the radioactive rain that’s a fallin’
I’ll replant to the depths of the worlds contaminated forest
Where good people are many and their hands are all clean
Where the pellets of Plutonium are not polluting their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the organic prison
Where the executioner’s face is no longer a reality
Where hunger is gone, where souls aren’t forgotten
Where clear is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it on-line so all internet world can see it
Then I’ll filter the oceans until It starts a cleansin’
But I’ll know my thoughts well before I start decidein’
And it’s a new, it’s a new, it’s a new,
It’s a new common sense a callin’
Reality for us all. ~Gasser Classic~
Psychic Numbing Definition, PTSD, Neuroscience, Religion, War, Nuclear Denial Disorder, And A Call To Awareness, Return To The Vortexhttp://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2014/09/psychic-numbing-definition-ptsd.html
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