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Let a counselor who understands Interpersonal Neurobiology

help you conquer your anxiety

Anxiety is imprinted in the brain initially or starts out for several reasons:  

When we are children, all events, objects and people we encounter are new experiences to us. We lack the prior knowledge to know what to expect from new people, things, events, and places. 

Even more important if our brains associate those situations as stressful, then these images can continue to bring about anxiety for us throughout our life, sometimes without our conscious awareness or memory. 

In addition, when we do not yet have necessary skills to successfully master situations, then going through them can feel scary. This combination can prevent or decrease our confidence or ability to stop either a person or a scary situation that may cause our adrenal system to turn on and create a feeling of fear. 

When the adrenaline starts pumping, we feel scared in the mind and in the body.  This leaves a memory or impression with us until we do something different to change or overwrite it.


Example- a spider scares us when we are little and we don’t know we can get rid of it. Instead we might just jump on a chair and scream until an adult takes care of it for us. When we let an adult solve it- our adrenaline goes down. We may feel relieved, but our mind registers that we are not the one who solved it. If the next time we see a spider, our adrenaline isn’t too high and we remember what to do, and then do it, then we extinguish the fear and the anxiety.  If we are never successful navigating through the situation of extinguishing the danger the spider represents, then we can remain irrationally fearful of spiders for the rest of our lives.

What is a DOUBLE BIND?

This is a situation where there is no clear or immediate answer and a person is stuck between making two or more choices, where either choice will cause cortisol and adrenaline to surge.

Double bind scenario- Back to the spider example- 


We see the spider. We get scared. But perhaps we figure out that we can step on the spider and stop our fear and lower our adrenaline. But we know we have a parent who will get upset if we kill bugs and will only let us pick it up with a paper towel and not kill it. We know stepping on it will stop our adrenaline. However, we also predict that stepping on it will make our parents mad and have them yell at us, which will also raise our adrenaline. We calculate that stepping on it will be much easier then chasing it down with a paper towel. And we predict that it will be hard to catch in a paper towel and hard to hold in a paper towel without escaping and that thought gives us anxiety.  

So we know we will have to pick between two equally stress producing situations. Step on it and get yelled at or pick it up in a paper towel and get anxious about trying to catch it and about it escaping.

        Double binds usually involve        authority figures

When we are in a situation with an authority figure- parent, teacher, boss, police officer, doctor, lawyer- anyone who has the ability or means to withhold a reward or administer a punishment, and we know they have the ability to have an important positive or negative impact in our lives, this will limit our ability to make the decision we truly want. This knowledge alone and lack of a choice can create a rise in our adrenaline and cortisol.


The impact the authority figure has on us could be either physical, financial, social, or emotional. If we feel we have no ability to influence the outcome over the authority figure's decision, then that will create a surge in our adrenaline or anxiety. Problem solving involving authority figures requires the most sophisticated and complicated problem solving ability, as it involves many variables to prioritize, giving up of our individual wants and needs, usually no reduction in anxiety, usually having to choose between two difficult choices, and a high degree of complex long term goal planning. 

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