Q: I’ve heard a lot that the limbic system only responds to scent, but I’ve never been able to verify that. Can you explain?
The limbic system is the permanent address of all the feels.
It has a scrapbook of positive and negative memories (the hippocampus) that is guarded by an alarm system (the amygdala).
The scrapbook stores memories based on a common feeling rather than a common thought. So, all the happy memories are in one section, then all the afraid memories are in this other section, etc., and so on. Those emotions are cross-referenced with other things too, such as the literal physical feeling associated with it, and the area of the body where those negative feelings typically reside (grief/lungs, anxiousness/stomach, etc).
(This is why AFT works and you can pull up a seemingly unrelated memory that IS actually related because of how your brain filed the information.)
Now, the alarm system is connected to certain areas of the scrapbook; particularly negative, stressful, and traumatic events. It’s our body’s way of alerting us that something is wrong, that we’ve been here before and it ended badly.
It’s also important to realize that some people’s alarm systems are more sensitive than others. Those with trauma or brain imbalances tend to have a hair-trigger alarm system so that their amygdala is in constant fight or flight, scanning for danger. These people may seem to always be in the feels. The thinking/logical sections of the brain are overridden by the more urgent feelings.
Also, yes, input from any of the senses can set OFF your alarm system. Someone gets too close, something is too loud, something is too smelly, you taste something that triggers a negative association, you see something frightening or traumatic… any sense can trigger the alarm system.
But, only one can switch it off.
Only the olfactory system can connect with the feeling brain (which is being triggered) before it connects with the thinking brain. When I’m triggered, I feel first and think later. For people with a history of trauma, thinking may come MUCH later or not at all. If I’m in deep fight/flight/freeze, there is little that can snap me out of it. This reality has never been more apparent than with my sweet son, who will go to the mat over things that trigger him. I’m not talking about regular stresses and disappointments you can talk yourself down from. I’m talking about a traumatized reaction to an innocuous event. It’s as if there isn’t a choice, because there is no logical thought going into the reaction.
When traumatic stress is truly triggered, it is life or death, you are doing whatever you can to survive. Your brain is telling you to fight or leave and you find yourself acting before you even realize what is happening. That alarm is sounding and turning it off is a challenge. Of course there are ways of retraining the brain and many different psychological approaches. Logic can rule once the incident is over, but the fact remains there will be more triggers. There will be more incidents. There will be more hair-trigger reactions.
Unless, there was a way to halt the process and retrain the brain that lasted.
The most effective, most permanent “off-switch” for that triggered alarm are therapeutic essential oils. The tiny molecules bypass the blood brain barrier and go into the cells. The constituents work like a symphony in the body. The ligands attach to receptor sites that match the same frequency and the cell door opens for business. The molecules do their jobs in the cell, assisting with deleting and restoring correct Information, bringing the body, mind, and spirit in balance.
The best example of this I’ve seen is Trauma Life. Within minutes it halts the fight/flight for our son. Consistent use has meant his past doesn’t dictate his future. He is tasting freedom from the bondage he once was in. He can hear the gentle whisper of truth over the terrible lies.