11 Dr. Greg Siegle: What if Freaking Out and Shutting Down are Perfectly Normal?

By Jess | 静姝

Photo by Anthony Tran on UnsplashDr. Greg Siegle is director of the Programme in Cognitive A'ffective Neuroscience (PICAN) at the University of Pittsburgh. Last month, June 2019, he was also awarded the Honorary Chair in Cognitive Science at the University of Amsterdam. He’s devoted to understanding interactions of cognition and emotion, particularly their associations with mental disorder and recovery such as depression and anxiety. **Shownotes ** 1:00 Lecture at the University of Amsterdam: “what if freaking out and shutting down are completely normal?" 2:50 Most interventions in mental health is to decrease emotions 4:10 “Healthy” people dissociate every day 4:57 Freaking out and shutting down are both part of the process (e.g. spider-phobia) 6:11 Dissociation is stigmatized in mental health field 7:33 There’s a continuum from compartmentalization to total dissociation. 8:26 Detachment in mindfulness share a lot with dissociation 9:02 Pre-frontal cortex lets us put the choice back to our hands 10:02 We’re already doing emotional regulation unconsciously all the time 10:15 Naked card experiment 12:13 Emotions at the workplace - can you cry and completely disengage like a zombie? 13:10 Performance suffers when emotions are suppressed 14:00 Not preventing a person from using the coping mechanism that helped them survive 14:44 Greg’s lab policy - What if doctors and nurses, not just patients, are also allowed to have emotions? 15:30 A real-life example in Greg’s workplace 18:50 Including “allowing emotions” during the interviewing process 19:54 Some Asian employees do not feel like expressing emotions, which is also okay 21:00 Communicating and checking in as the new normal 23:00 Black employees feel less safe to express emotions 24:58 Allowing people to shut down makes it safer for them to come back when they’re ready 25:24 Orgasmic meditation - when the environment is safe, women having sexual abuse histories do not have problems to have arousal 26:52 It’s the lack of safety that prolongs shutting down 28:28 Set and setting are made explicit in psychology and psychiarity 29:20 Lab may not be the ideal place for either stimulation or intervention 31:26 What does it mean by “leaning in” to the emotions? 33:03 To allow the regulatory mechanisms to shut off 33:50 Chinese saying “wuwei” 34:26 What if you don’t work too hard? Allow the process to play out 35:12 Not regulating emotions might work as well 35:40 Depression: leaning in to the rumination; take the power back 38:11 Give anxiety a “worry time” 42:05 “Play time” - Does the world end if I ruminate right now? People actually ruminate less if it’s made explicitly as a process. 44:20 “Surfing” high emotions, even enjoying it 44:47 People like BDSM and haunted house playing with high arousal 46:00 Why is it hard to play with emotions in daily life? 47:42 Not just individual efforts to regulate emotions, but also power relations 48:25 Women are more stigmatized to show emotions at workplace 50:00 What if workplace training includes “really hearing the content and saying I hear you when someone’s expressing emotionally”? 51:15 Shutting down in relationships 52:45 Emotions are stored in the body 53.45 The somatic marker hypothesis, formulated by Antonio Damasio 55:21 “Where are you feeling emotions in your body” 56:01 Body awareness can be double-edged 57:31 Our relationship with pain - what’s it telling me? 59:40 Arousal is arousal - why not playing with that 61:01 One story about arousal may not be more valid than other ones 62:58 The time course of arousal is slow; make use of it 64:24 Make-up sex can be a valid re-direction of arousal 65:30 Artists using their hard emotions to create 66:38 Vibration can lead to vigilance that’s neither positive nor positive 67:30 Meditation is not just about distancing 68:20 Philippe Goldin, laughter meditation 69:30 Detaching as spiritual bypassing 72:05 First learn to swim and surf, and then dive into the extraordinary state of mind 72:35 What does neuroscience say about when to surf, and when to dive? 73:51 Allowing the dark side as part of every day - it’s all one person 74:03 Use your “darkness” as a great resource, as a superpower 75:25 The middle way 76:40 Not stigmatizing the reactions is healing 77:55 Embodied dissociation 78:25 Not just regulating individual patient’s emotions, but change their environments as well 80:23 Better environment for depression - not isolating, but also ok to want to stay alone 81:20 Interpersonal therapy 82:01 Depressive realism 82:20 What about the socio-political cause for depression - fetishizing productivity? 85:16 Both personal an structural changes needed 85:50 Local changes can make a difference - have hard conversations, reclaim power 87:25 **Be your own scientist, play with emotions, do not be scared of them **

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