The Dorsal Vagal State and Manifestation of Autoimmune Disorders
People who are in the dorsal vagal state a lot which is the state when the amygdala is activated due to a detection of a slight threat in the environment consciously or unconsciously through neuroception and the traumatized person goes into a state of learned helplessness or what is called dissociation or freeze response which is an unconscious conditioned fear response, the body’s reflex to an internal or external stimuli from a cue of an original trauma. This will activate all the viscera, your heart, your lungs, your colon, your stomach, all of these are run unconsciously by the dorsal vagal nucleus and if you have syndromes where you are in the freeze response a lot, the dorsal vagal nucleus will be hyperactive and you will get syndromes of hyperactivity within the viscera and that can be characterized by Irritable bowel disease, colitis and other autoimmune diseases.
These are cyclical diseases which means they oscillate between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system meaning the symptoms come and go which is why the medical profession very often can not diagnose the problem or refer to it as psychosomatic meaning it is a condition of the mind when in fact it is actually emotionally driven physiological conditions of the gut and the brain. Problems with the gut are common with people who have had trauma, it is the physiology of trauma that drives these conditions and so if you heal the trauma you can heal the disease. These conditions are also referred to as neurosomatic, which means they are brain based conditions, physical conditions caused by abnormal function of the brain.
The Amygdala is the agent of fear conditioning, it stores emotionally based memory positive and negative, it is also the gate keeper for responding to threat by activating the fight or flight response, when the fight or flight response is not successful, such as you can not escape the traumatic event, the body goes into a freeze response. The freeze response is predicated by the effects of early childhood experiences, the freeze response is also called dissociation. When dissociation happens you are dysregulated, Dissociation is based a lot on what happened in childhood that allowed you to develop the brain in a way to prevent that from happening too easy. This has to do with Allan Schore’s work on attunement, the part of the brain that controls this regulation of autonomic nervous system and emotional system, which is the orbital frontal cortex. This develops in a healthy attuned infant and shrinks in a neglected infant. We need a developed orbital frontal cortex to regulate us over our lifetime and prevent us from going into freeze states and dysregulation. Helplessness is the essential ingredient for the freeze response. The freeze response is a motor action, which perpetuates the escape behaviour in a way that erases all the procedural (Implicit) memory of that trauma. If you have a threat and don’t discharge the freeze response, you are conditioned thereafter to any body cues related to that traumatic event.
Start writing or type / to choose a block
Nervous System Regulation Exercise 1.
Write down What are your “rules of play”? In each of the following categories identify what cues of danger shut down play, what cues of safety support an experience of play, and what beliefs are associated with both the shut down and cues of safety in each category.
Understanding Your Nervous System Exercise 2.
Think about when each state ventral, sympathetic and dorsal is most alive and write down with Who, with What, Where and when is each stage of nervous system most alive ?
Ventral – ( Who, What, Where and When )
Sympathetic – ( Who, What, Where and When )
Dorsal – ( Who, What, Where and When )
Understanding Your Nervous System Exercise 3.
In each of the nervous system states ventral, sympathetic and dorsal , write down some words which describe this sate and in each of these states write the following which may speak to an internal belief.
I am …..
The world is ….Paragraph
It is healthy to come through all states of the nervous system, for example we activate the sympathetic nervous system in the gym, we activate the dorsal vagal system when digesting food and going to sleep, these examples are working and operating along with ventral vagal. These States become problematic when safety is gone, when there is danger or perception of danger via neuroception thus ventral vagal goes offline and now sympathetic state or dorsal state is now dominant.