The Amygdala

As part of my contextual research, I’ve been researching what happens when our mind detects fear and the defence mechanisms we have to combat our fears. When we are faced with a situation where our emotions are provoked such as an immediate fear, an area of our brain called the amygdala reacts to our physical state and prepares our mind to control our emotion. However, according to many websites, the role of the amygdala is a contentious subject, as the amygdala functions in different ways, not only fear related. The amygdala is also responsible to controlling our anger and fascinatingly, it processes memory data when we have unpleasant experiences. So when we encounter the same experience, the amygdala recognizes that situation. And, depending on the situation, increases/decreases our fears.

When I was younger I suffered from  claustrophobia. I never took any medication for this; I just never felt comfortable in confined spaces such as elevators, narrow corridors, small rooms etc. When I came to work in Tokyo 15 years ago, the most fearful situation for me was taking the rush hour train (not 1 hour, continuous!). It was unbearable having to stand crushed for lengthy periods of time against bodies. Now, I’ve became so used to crowded trains that this fear is considerably weaker. So, my research has informed me that over time, the amygdala has recorded those situations and has prepared my mind to control and combat that fear. Below is footage of me (look closely and you’ll see my reflection on the train door with camera) on the way to work. The film is a portrayal of how I used to feel when experiencing the rush hour in Tokyo. Silent Hell!




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