Define the concepts – fear, anxiety, panic, panic attack

In 2014, a book was published by the famous Italian researcher of science, professor of psychology, creator of the methodological approach of Short-Term Strategic Therapy Giorgio Nardone titled “Fear of Decision” (” La Paura delle decisioni “).

This book has not yet been published in Russian, so you can read it

brief summary.

The relevance of the topic of choice, decision-making, emotional stress caused by fear in connection with the implementation of this choice, is becoming more and more relevant in the modern world.

The paradox of modern life is that choice makes a person free, but because of the huge number of options, this choice becomes more and more difficult.

The more choices we have, the less our ability to make that choice.

The one on whose shoulders lies the responsibility for making important decisions must be able, first of all, to control their primary emotions, the most significant of which is fear. And at the same time have the skills to bring the decision to life.

The book is quite extensive and covers various aspects of the decision-making process.

But the purpose of this article was the desire to focus on the terminology, which the author considers in sufficient detail. Terminology of such concepts as “fear”, “anxiety”, “panic”, “panic attack”.

Understanding these terms is extremely important for practical activities – what, with what and how is interconnected.

Often these concepts are interpreted by psychologists in the most diverse and contradictory way.

All these terms are directly related to various forms of psycho-physiological suffering that a person experiences in the process of his life and when making decisions in particular.

There is frequent confusion between fear and anxiety, and even twisting of the psycho-physiological process that links the organism-activated stimulus perception of a threat response to such a feeling.

So this is how Giorgio interprets these concepts Nardone .

Fear is a perception that triggers physiological responses, the most immediate of which are an increase in heart rate, breathing rate, and electrogalvanic reflexes activated by the body. These reactions usually last from a millisecond to a second and are accompanied by an escape or struggle.

When the combination of these reactions persists for a period of time longer than the immediate response to the stimulus, then this state is defined as anxiety.

Anxiety is not a pathological, but a natural reaction of a person who faces a threat and danger.

Anxiety becomes pathological only when it exceeds the threshold capabilities of the body, which leads the body to its psychophysiological failure. Panic will be such a failure.

Panic activated by anxiety will be experienced as fear because it is interpreted as a prelude to a psychophysiological escalation leading to a panic attack.

In some cases, anxiety can be very high in its tension, as it is caused by various types of factors.

A person, constantly feeling threatened, fears that the state of panic can lead to its explosion at any moment. At the same time, the more a person tries to control his condition in every possible way, the more he listens to himself, the more likely it will be to increase anxiety, which will eventually turn into panic.

Fear and anxiety influence each other in a cyclic manner, one effecting the other. And the effect, in turn, can become a cause.

An important note of the author is that if a person learns to control fear, then he will be able to control anxiety.

While if he tries to reduce only anxiety, then he will not be able to get rid of fear.

Giorgio Nardone refers to the research of the famous neuroscientist Antonio Damasio ( Antonio Damasio ), in which he argues that if a person with pathological fear reduces the state of anxiety, his physiological arousal will be blocked, but the perception of fear will still not disappear.

It ‘s like plastering a person and then subjecting him to threatening influences. A person cannot react, but he still experiences fear.

With this thesis, Giorgio Nardone also explains another interesting phenomenon, when the achievement of a sedative effect with the help of anxiolytics after a few months paradoxically increases anxiety rather than reduces it.

A similar phenomenon occurs with relaxation techniques. In case of fear, the use of relaxation techniques helps a person to exercise control over his reactions, but his perception does not change.

scientific research that has been carried out in the clinical treatment of phobic disorders and panic attacks has contributed to the development of Short-Term Strategic Therapy protocols, which have shown amazing results in several thousand cases: in more than 96% of cases, therapeutic interventions led to the complete disappearance of phobic disorders within a few months.

This fact shows that in order for a person to effectively overcome fear in the case of pathological fear and anxiety, which in its level exceeds a certain threshold, it is necessary to change the perception of this person of what seems frightening to him.

Also when a person is in a state of making important decisions, makes difficult choices and in doing so performs dysfunctional actions (i.e. actions that do not lead to these decisions), in the first place, according to Professor Giorgio Nardone , it is necessary to intervene in the perception of what is dangerous. And not just aim to change physiological responses.

In this case, fear becomes manageable, returns a person a sense of control over himself and over what he is afraid of.

At the same time, the level of anxiety is within acceptable limits, which is a useful condition for healthy adaptation.

How to practically solve this problem associated with changing the perception of threat, which is offered for this by Short-Term Strategic Therapy led by Professor Giorgio Nardone , we will consider in subsequent articles on the review of the book “Fear of Decision Making”.

event_note July 5, 2022

account_box Winona Tse MD

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