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Anxiety Panic Attack & Agoraphobia-- Impact Of Conclusion Thinking

This article is based on a technique that demonstrated an 80% success rate in eliminating symptoms of anxiety panic attack. This is a description of the third session with the first client named Jane with whom this technique was discovered. Jane had uprooted her family and moved from Florida to NJ to be with her sisters and mother six months prior to the onset of agoraphobia panic attacks. I had in-home sessions with her as she was house-ridden.

Generally the original source of panic attacks is poor nutrition or a side effect of medication which was true for Jane. But even after stopping the offending medicaton or adjusting the diet, the anxiety panic attack response often continues as it has become a conditioned response.

The challenge was to shift Jane and the dozens of clients after her from the conditioned response of anxiety to freedom. According to Clara Weekes’ book, Healing Your Bad Nerves (out of print), there are three phases to the anxiety panic attack. Initially there’s an alarm. This is also true of the general adaptation syndrome (GAS). The alarm is what takes us away from our homeostatic level. It's the stressor. The next phase is the physical reaction—activation of the fight/flight. At this point breathing quickens and becomes upper chest, muscles tighten, extremities become cooler, heart rate quickens, blood pressure increases… all preparing the individual to either fight or run. More about stage three later.

However, what was not understood by Jane (and many professionals treating anxiety) is that the fight/flight is not only activated when there is a real physical threat, but any time her ego, and or family, social or financial status is perceived to be threatened. Yet, fighting or running from these types of life stressors is an inappropriate means of handling them. For instance, would you run away from your supervisor who criticized your work? Or punch him in the nose? Of course not, these are inappropriate responses, but nevertheless the body is activated to either fight or run. Not knowing this, the individual is left with the body in gear and totally at loss as to why. Jane's doctor came to a conclusion and said, "Because this happens when you're in wide open spaces like a super market, you have agoraphobia. Aside from some medication to take off the edge, we don’t know how to cure it or even why it happens."

In the first two sessions with Jane I gathered information about her, (especially her life's disappointments) discussed nutrition, and outlined the goals. In my third session with Jane I provided an explanation of Hans Selye's GAS along with Clara Weekes’ three stage theory.

Essentially the third stage is an exaggerated over reaction of the second stage (maybe as much as 100 times in magnitude) and this is because in the absence of any real physical threat, as previously noted, Jane and others do not understand that the second stage can be kicked in simply with something so basic as a threat to ego.

At this point, Jane had the frame work of understanding on a conscious level what has happened to her. The next challenge is to change the frame of reference from, “I have anxiety attacks,” (which is actually a conclusion) to “I notice tension in my chest,” (an observation). I needed a way of her understanding that she was jumping to conclusions and that conclusions for her are dangerous. Now I could have explained the difference in conclusions and observations a hundred times and it would have had little value. I needed to provide an actual example for Jane to experience to connect on both conscious and the subconscious level.

Looking about my home, I had found an old object. When I picked it up to move it out of the way, I discovered part if it missing--I had jumped to a conclusion—that it was complete. I needed something to build a shift from internal focus to external focus. Her internal focus was on her breathing and muscle tension which contributed to her jumping to conclusions which invoked the third stage.

When she wasn’t looking, I positioned the object on her kitchen table. I then pointed to it and asked her what she saw. She identified the object from her point of view. I asked her if she made an observation or a conclusion and she thought it was an observation. I then asked her if she felt right in her observation and she did—anxiety sufferers like to be right and up until now, she’s been “right” about muscle tension and breathing tightness being a panic attack from her perspective.

I then picked up the object so she could see the missing part and her mouth dropped open in surprise. Using this device provided all the hypnosis I needed. Although the entire event took no more than a minute, in that time period Jane, as well as countless others with whom I’ve since used this device, was hypnotized. It was less than ten seconds of “Wakened Hypnosis” that provided the shift from conclusion to observation—the key to getting beyond the third phase of Clara Weaks’ model.

We then took ten minutes to look at the difference between observation and conclusion. If we named the object it was actually a conclusion—a dangerous one if we tried to use the object functionally. From observation it was an object approximately 4” in length with one end being 2 ½” in diameter with the other end approximately 3” in diameter. The end with the smaller diameter had a section approximately ½” in length that flared outward with one section slightly elongated. On one side of the object was a protrusion which connected to both ends. It took another three minutes to complete the observation without coming to any conclusions such as handle and spout.

I noted that we’re rewarded in school by our ability to take A and B and come to conclusions which in this case are dangerous and from observation, we’d be hard pressed to figure out it what the object was.

This example has a lot more impact from a visual perspective as is on the dvd of the program at my website.

Her homework was to observe objects and write them down—an external focusing technique—practice observation with the understanding that one day she’ll simply be able to observe muscle tension and be free of jumping to conclusions. They say the definition if insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome. Why is it that standard procedures keep trying to have panic anxiety sufferers focus inward and control breathing? It is clearly insane to keep doing what doesn't work when the results of such misguided approaches are so poor.

Submitted by:

Richard Kuhns

Richard Kuhns B.S., NGH certified is a prominent figure in the field of anxiety. He aims to raise awareness that outward observation exercises are the answer to beating anxiety panic attack. To find out more please visit http://www.PanicBusters.com




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