if you don't shut up i'm gonna stick this up yo ass

Do Any Of These Sound Like You?

  • “I want to kill the slurpers so hard that their ancestors die all over again”
  • “I want to eat with my family without storming out”
  • “I want to stop wanting to assault people who snack on public transport”
  • “I want to eat at restaurants without getting furious at the rude people eating around me”
  • “I want to go to the cinema without causing grievous bodily harm to all the popcorn-crunchers”
  • “Chewing, lip-smacking, sighing: AAARGH!$^%#&@!”
  • “I just want to no longer get angry around anybody’s normal noises”
  • “I just want to get rid of my painful reactions to the ordinary sounds of others so I don’t lose my temper and do something horrible”

What’s On This Page

  • You Can Blame The Elephant In Your Head Who Loves Playing Bouncy Trampoline With Your Body
  • “But I’m Special And Not Human-Born And Possibly From Outer Space So None Of This Applies To Me”
  • “But I’m The Only One With This Problem”
  • “But I Don’t Have Time To Learn About This Stuff”
  • “But This Is All So Difficult And Complicated, I Really Don’t Know What To Do”
  • “But This Is A Real Condition”
  • “But This Is Something In My Brain Over Which I Have No Real Control - The Best I Can Do Is Walk Away Or Ask People To Stop Making The Noise That Triggers Me”
  • “But I’m Acting Irrationally”
  • “But This CANNOT Be A Defence Reaction!”
  • Being Trapped Is The Killswitch
  • Why You Can Never Win An Argument With Your Elephant Friend
  • Elephant Pinball Versus A Tiny Squeaky Voice Of Reason
  • “But I Don’t Think My Problem Has Anything To Do With What I’ve Experienced During My Life”
  • What You Must Understand About Your Elephant Friend’s Concept Of Time
  • “But There Is NO WAY I Learned This! It Hurts! I Must Have Been Born With This Because There Is No Way I Would Willingly Do This To Myself!”
  • How Your Elephant Friend Adds New Threats
  • “But I Had A Happy, Normal Childhood And Nothing Bad Happened To Me”
  • “But There’s A Special Name For What I Have!”
  • “But What Can I Do When Nobody Takes Me Seriously?”
  • “But How Can I Get Rid Of This Issue That I’ve Had For Many Years?”
  • Mismatch Experiences Remove Threat Signatures
  • Mismatch Tools Can Change Threat Templates In Minutes
  • How NOT To Deal With A Phobia
  • How To Remove A Phobia The Right Way
  • “But How Is It Possible That Something That Happened 30 Years Ago Is Linked To Stuff Affecting Me Now?”
  • “But I’ve Struggled With This For Decades”
  • “But I Have Too Many Triggers!”
  • “But Everything’s Gotten Worse And I Get New Triggers Even Now”
  • “But I’ve Started To Get Visual Triggers As Well”
  • “But I’ve Had These Difficulties Since I Was A Toddler And It Gets Worse Every Year Older I Get”
  • “But Why Haven’t I Been Able To Fix Myself, Even Though I’ve Tried Really Hard For A Really Long Time?”
  • “But I Feel Broken”
  • “But I’ve Tried So Many Things And Spent So Much Money”
  • “But My Reaction Is Connected To Some Really Bad Stuff That Happened To Me A Long Time Ago And I Don’t Want To Revisit It And Start Digging In The Garden Of Horror And Trauma”
  • “But I Was In Therapy For A While And Nothing Changed”
  • Alice Believed She’d Be Sold As A Sex-Slave
  • Dave Couldn’t Bear White Cats
  • Betty Goes Hulk On Gum Poppers
  • Charlie Can’t Eat Dinner With His Wife
  • Evelyn Tries To Eat With Nobody
  • “But Why Hasn’t My Doctor Told Me All This?”
  • “But Why Isn’t All This Stuff More Widely Known?”
  • “But I Have Paid Other People A Lot Of Money To Fix This And They Have Failed”
  • “But It’s Now Widely Accepted As A Sensory Processing Disorder”
  • How To Do The Rattlesnake Reframe
  • The Importance Of Speaking The Language
  • About Me
  • Your Next Step
  • P.S. “A Ritual To Read To Each Other”

You Can Blame The Elephant In Your Head Who Loves Playing Bouncy Trampoline With Your Body

elephant trampoline

Every human being has one - an elephant friend. A private, wonderful, retarded, elephant friend.

Completely on your side, very powerful and very stupid.

It has one and only one mission: to keep you safe.

It lives in the part of your brain called your “limbic system” - MISSION CONTROL FOR THREAT-DANGER-SURVIVAL-DEFENCE.

When your elephant friend HEARS certain sounds it firehoses adrenaline into your bloodstream and jerks your limbs around like a puppet and makes you do all sorts of crazy stuff that you wished you wouldn’t.

It’s just trying to help.

It loves you unconditionally.

It just wants you to be safe and happy.

Anger is hurt expressed outwards.

Rage is very big hurt expressed outwards.

Big negative emotions like rage, terror and despair are SURVIVAL SIGNALS that something is IMPORTANT. NOT that something is wrong, which is what many people mistakenly believe.

Survival is about staying safe.

Something that keeps you safe cannot be a “disorder” or “disease”. Although it can certainly be “unwanted”.

Misophonia is about sounds that MEAN something.

Your sound-rage reaction is proof the sounds mean something very important and very threatening to you.

The purpose of misophonia is to keep you SAFE because your experience of RAGE gives you the couRAGE to fight for something important - your life, your sanity, your self-respect, your body, your identity.

After you get rid of the outRAGE, the sounds will no longer bother you.

You’ll still be safe but you will have broken your sound barrier. You’ll be “above the sounds” and “beyond the sounds”.

You’ll be supersonic.

“But I’m Special And Not Human-Born And Possibly From Outer Space So None Of This Applies To Me”

Best of luck with everything.

“But I’m The Only One With This Problem”

elephant lawn sculptures

The bazillions of other people with the same problem believe exactly the same thing.

People are sometimes ashamed of it so it’s not often something that gets talked about.

“But I Don’t Have Time To Learn About This Stuff”

Do you have time to have your problem for the rest of your life?

“But This Is All So Difficult And Complicated, I Really Don’t Know What To Do”

You can always wait another five years and see if things improve on their own.

“But This Is A Real Condition”

I know. Being alive is a real condition too. Do you want to change your future reactions anyway?

“But This Is Something In My Brain Over Which I Have No Real Control - The Best I Can Do Is Walk Away Or Ask People To Stop Making The Noise That Triggers Me”

I know. Do you want more control?

“But I’m Acting Irrationally”

wooden mechanical elephant

Your reactions are PROFOUNDLY RATIONAL from the point of view of your limbic brain system.

Your reactions are IRRATIONAL from the point of view of your cognitive brain system. Your reactions are also IRRATIONAL from the point of view of the cognitive brain systems of everyone around you.

The statement “I’m acting irrationally” is a rational, cognitive, adult, judgement about a 100% normal, successful, adaptive reaction.

But your elephant friend is NOT THE LEAST BIT INTERESTED in having a rational adult conversation with you.

Your elephant friend (ie. your amygdala/limbic brain system) manages emotional memories (also called “implicit memories” or “limbic memories”).

Your “cognitive brain system” manages cognitive memories and rational thought.

These two brain systems have entirely DIFFERENT GOALS and speak entirely DIFFERENT LANGUAGES.

Even worse, your elephant friend can hold an emotional memory which is the POLAR OPPOSITE of a cognitive memory. Tension between opposites usually creates a lot of suffering.

Being cognitively aware of an emotional memory changes NOTHING.

Being cognitively judgemental about limbic system activity makes things WORSE because it INCREASES perceived limbic danger.

NOTHING WILL CHANGE until you make something LIMBICALLY SAFER.

“But This CANNOT Be A Defence Reaction!”

The decision isn’t yours to make.

Your elephant friend makes decisions about threats, not you.

Your elephant friend makes the decision about whether or not to do a defence reaction, whether or not to juice you up and start playing bouncy trampoline with your body.

If you hear something, see something, smell something, taste something, or feel something touch your body, and then your blood pressure goes up and your attentional focus becomes filled with the stimulus (you get tunnel vision or tunnel hearing), YOUR elephant friend BINGO-MATCHED A THREAT SIGNATURE and started playing pinball with your body (dumped adrenaline and stress hormones into your bloodstream) in a standard limbic defence reaction.

Without your permission and outside your control.

Emotions have, in evolution, the primary survival function. The amygdala is the brain’s sentinel. Everything we see, the amygdala scans it: “Is this a threat?”, “Do I eat it or does it eat me?”.

The amygdala is a hair-trigger. It would rather be safe than sorry. It gets a very fuzzy picture of what’s going on but if it thinks it has a match, it creates a rush of stress hormones, it changes the entire way the brain prioritises information, it captures attention, it changes the hierarchy within memory so that we remember and think about only to what pertains to the thing at the moment. It’s the classic fight-flight-freeze trigger.

What we face are complex symbolic threats which today trigger the HPA axis, which means we get into a state that is suboptimal for most of life.

When it really thinks something’s urgent, it creates an amygdala hijack - you have a very strong emotional response, it’s very sudden and intense, and you do something or say something that, when the dust settles, you really regret. It happens to really intelligent people because we get really dumb when the amygdala takes us over. We’re being run by our fears and our angers, by emotional repertoires that were learned unconsciously in childhood. We become very childlike.

Dan Goleman: Emotional Intelligence or Behavioural Control? Part 1 (9 mins)

When we have a thought, our emotional centres valence it for us. Our life wisdom is stored in the basal ganglia. It can’t tell us what it knows in words. It tells us in feelings. It tells us “this is right” or “this is wrong” as a gut feeling.

Dan Goleman: Emotional Intelligence or Behavioural Control? Part 2 (10 mins)

Dan talks about the AMYGDALA HIJACK.

It’s really NOT a hijack!

A hijacker does NOT have your best interests at heart.

Your elephant friend DOES have your best interests at heart.

Your elephant friend thinks it is doing a GREAT JOB ALL THE TIME, protecting you and keeping you safe.

When we’re threatened, what we do first generally, is FREEZE. If the threat doesn’t go away, we try to FLEE (escape). If we can’t get away from the threat, we FAIL (submit, surrender, give in, give up). If the threat is still there, our usual last resort is to FIGHT. Misophonics start and finish this sequence in ONE EYE-BLINK. Less than one-fifth of one second (200 milliseconds).

Being Trapped Is The Killswitch

The amygdalan switch which controls whether we do rage or fear is whether we experience being trapped or not.

If we’re threatened and we can escape, we will make fear.

If we’re threatened and we cannot escape, we will make rage.

This trapped sensation can be psychological as well as physical, such as when feeling betrayed. The psychological sense of being unable to flee can also produce bodily reactions associated with rage: the face flushes; breathing is shallow and rapid; there may be agitated pacing that resembles a stomping walk rather than a thoughtful stroll; the urge to hit is nearly uncontrollable; and the feeling of being a caged animal is overwhelming. When “cornered” physically or psychologically, a generally peaceful person can strike out with strong verbal assaults, kicking, clawing, scratching, and biting.

Barbara Given (Teaching to the Brain’s Natural Learning Systems)

We get trapped in our schools for years.

We get trapped in our families for decades.

We get trapped around the dinner table night after night after night, where many symbolic/social/emotional threats get installed. This is why chewing and eating triggers are so common.

Humanity is a couple of million years old.

The emotional part of our brains goes back much, much further.

You’re on an ancient schedule, friend.

Why You Can Never Win An Argument With Your Elephant Friend

despite all my rage

Your elephant friend has all the POWER.

It controls what your body does, not you.

Your elephant friend ALWAYS believes it’s RIGHT! It always believes it’s RATIONAL! And it controls your reactions!

Arguing with your elephant friend angers it more, so it gets a bit more threatened.

If you try, it just says “I’M STILL HERE, BITCH!” and smacks you with more adrenaline and cortisol!

Arguing with your elephant friend is like arguing with gravity.

If you think you’re NOT arguing and your elephant friend thinks you ARE arguing, who do you think wins the argument about whether or not you’re having an argument?

If your elephant friend is saying “This is dangerous” and you’re saying “This is safe”, you’re having an argument.

For example, you might think it’s a great idea to say a mantra-in-the-moment every time you’re triggered. Something like: “This is just a sound. It cannot hurt me. I’m not going to surrender my life to a sound”. I know you think you’re helping, but you’re not. You are making your problem slightly worse for next time because you are telling your elephant friend that it’s wrong.

It is NOT safe for your elephant friend to be WRONG because it believes that if it’s WRONG, you will get HURT! Your elephant friend is TERRIFIED of making a mistake because it believes YOU WILL THEN DIE!

Elephant Pinball Versus A Tiny Squeaky Voice Of Reason

hulk

Your elephant friend believes that IT is the ONLY thing keeping you alive.

Your elephant friend believes that it is the ONLY THING BETWEEN YOU AND CERTAIN IMMEDIATE SUDDEN DEATH.

Your elephant friend does NOT trust you to keep yourself alive and safe and whole. It thinks you’re TERRIBLE at it.

Your elephant friend believes you take LOTS OF UNNECESSARY RISKS ALL DAY EVERY DAY and it wishes you didn’t.

Your elephant friend is ALWAYS AWAKE, ALWAYS ON GUARD, ALWAYS ON WATCH, ALWAYS ON THE LOOKOUT, ALWAYS VIGILANT FOR THREATS THAT MIGHT HARM YOU.

Your elephant friend stays up long after you have gone to sleep. It never really sleeps. It scans your dreams for threats because it thinks dreams are real. It’s very interested in nightmares.

Your elephant friend believes it is your FAITHFUL SERVANT, your GREAT PROTECTOR. It will not give up this role easily.

Your elephant friend loves DRAMA because it’s a DRAMA QUEEN.

Inside your head, in your brain, your elephant friend lives in your amygdala. Your amygdala has the same cognitive ability as a frog.

All this drama is moderated and regulated by your prefrontal cortex, which you can think of as a very small, very smart MOUSE with a TINY SQUEAKY VOICE OF REASON.

Sometimes the mouse wins:

Elephant-friend-drama-queen: “DUDE! DANGER IN SECTOR 9!”

Prefrontal-cortex-tiny-squeaky-voice-of-reason: “Oh shut up, you’re such a drama queen.”

Elephant-friend-drama-queen: “Fine. I’ll just be over here sulking for a while.”

Sometimes the elephant wins:

Elephant-friend-drama-queen: “DUDE! DANGER, DANGER! SO MUCH DANGER!”

Prefrontal-cortex-tiny-squeaky-voice-of-reason: “Jesus, not you again, shut the fuck up, you’re the queen of all drama queens.”

Elephant-friend-drama-queen: “WE’LL SEE ABOUT THAT, BITCH! HAVE SOME MORE ADRENALINE! HULK! PINBALL! BOUNCY TRAMPOLINE! BOING! BOING! BOING! BOING!”

If your attentional focus is OUTSIDE yourself, your elephant friend will be running THREAT SCANS against incoming sights, sounds, smells, touches, tastes.

Your elephant friend gets sensory information BEFORE you do. We actually consciously live about a fifth of a second behind “reality”. This is why we can sometimes violently react before we’re realising it.

Your elephant friend CANNOT tell the difference between what is ACTUALLY happening now and what you are REMEMBERING, IMAGINING, WONDERING or PLANNING.

So, if your attentional focus is INSIDE yourself, on a memory from your past or a plan for your future, your elephant friend thinks they are REALLY HAPPENING right now and it will be running THREAT SCANS against them.

Your elephant friend’s job is to remember actual threats and generalise them to other possible threats.

Your elephant friend keeps a list of threat signatures or threat templates (like hostile radar signatures in a warship control room).

When a new threat harms you, your elephant adds its signature or template to the list.

Your elephant friend is especially interested in remembering the things that have hurt you the most. The WORSE the stuff that happened to you, the BETTER your elephant friend will remember it.

Your elephant friend periodically looks through the list and looks for things in common and generalises them to other possible threats THAT HAVEN’T ACTUALLY HARMED YOU YET. This is why you can acquire new triggers without ever experiencing them.

When a military radar operator sees something that matches a known threat signature, they notify fire control.

When your elephant friend witnesses a trigger in the world and matches it with a threat signature in your head, your amygdala lights up like a pinball machine and your elephant friend starts playing bouncy trampoline with your body. You experience strong emotion and strong physiological change. This is how your elephant friend gets your attention.

Rage gives us ENERGY and POWER.

Rage transforms us from dweeb into The Incredible HULK!

HULK is ANGRY!

HULK is STRONG!

HULK is DUMB!

Your elephant friend reacts FAST. Even if there are thousands of threat signatures on your elephant friend’s threat list, your elephant friend can witness stuff in your world and scan the whole list in less than a heartbeat. It uses millions of helper elves (that you don’t have access to) to scan the list all-at-once in parallel, instead of sequentially entry-by-entry.

If a sound in the external world occurs right before something painful happens, you associate that sound with the painful event and that sound will then later trigger a protective defence response. What the amygdala is doing is forming Pavlovian associations.

Joseph LeDoux is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at NYU and Director of The Center For The Neuroscience Of Fear And Anxiety

The Amygdala in 5 Minutes

People talk about limbic retraining.

You’re ALREADY trained. There’s nothing to retrain.

There is no limbic “SAFE” state. There is only “DANGER NOW!” and “CAN’T DETECT ANY DANGER AROUND HERE RIGHT NOW BUT I COULD BE MISTAKEN”.

Your job is to increase limbic SAFETY.

Your elephant friend will never calm down by itself. It only calms down when you talk to it correctly.

Your elephant friend is only a tiny bit interested in happy-fun-times.

Your elephant friend is VERY interested in scary-dangerous-unpleasant-times.

We are still affected by events from long ago because our elephant friend lovingly maintains the threat templates for them in our head NOW. 

A threat signature is an emotional memory of something that harmed you or came close to harming you. This can be any sort of perceived harm - physical harm, mental harm, psychological harm, spiritual harm or emotional harm.

Emotional memories (eg. “flashbulb memories”, “implicit memories”) are more VIVID than other memories (but NOT more accurate).

Depending on how powerful the emotion is, the amygdala determines which memories associated with the feeling are kept, effectively shaping how we interpret our lives. We re-experience implicit memories decades later as if they occurred in the present, with the same intensity and in the same way as originally recorded.

The more “evolutionarily important” an emotional memory is, the more likely it is that we will frequently take it out of storage, replay it, juice the emotion up a bit, and put it back.

BONUS! This has the effect of INCREASING the strength and emotion and vividness of emotional memories LONG AFTER THE REAL EVENT HAS PASSED.

BONUS! This has the effect of INCREASING the intensity of our elephant-friend-amygdala-pinball-threat-response-defence-reaction when we’re triggered in the future.

Emotional memories are stored more vividly than other kinds of memories. What we remember is not necessarily what we experience originally. The accuracy of those memories changes over time but their strength, in terms of your subjective feeling that it was a really powerful experience, is there.

Joseph LeDoux

The Amygdala and Unconscious Memories (3 mins)

BEFORE we learn about our brains, we think emotion just happens, out of the blue. It doesn’t just happen. We make it happen.

AFTER we learn about our brains, we realise we are always reacting to everything at all times, both consciously and unconsciously. We are always seeking balance (homeostasis), even if we are not aware of it.

The problem is that your elephant friend’s idea of balance is not necessarily the same as yours.

“But I Don’t Think My Problem Has Anything To Do With What I’ve Experienced During My Life”

Your elephant friend doesn’t care what you think.

Your elephant friend has no concept of “problem” or “during” or “life”. It only has the concept of “successfully stay alive now”.

Do you want to change your future responses anyway?

What You Must Understand About Your Elephant Friend’s Concept Of Time

elephant sculpture

Your elephant friend lives in an “ETERNAL NOW”. Your elephant friend has NO concept of time.

Everything that has EVER happened to you and everything you have EVER witnessed exists for your elephant friend NOW in its “eternal now”. 

Your elephant friend has no concept of “the past” or “the future”.

Your elephant friend thinks you were born and lived ALL YOUR LIFE in the few moments preceding this one.

Your elephant friend thinks that EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU, happened ALTOGETHER COMPRESSED INTO A SINGLE MOMENT, JUST A MOMENT AGO.

Something that harmed you 30 years ago, harmed you JUST A MOMENT AGO, from your elephant friend’s point of view. It’s completely fresh.

You know how when you get a really bad fright, it takes a few minutes to calm down? Even when the danger has passed and you’re completely safe, you’re still touchy for a while.

Can you see why your elephant friend is a bit touchy and has a hair-trigger?

Your elephant friend CANNOT distinguish a threat in your PRESENT from a threat from your PAST.

Everything that has EVER HAPPENED to you in the past is immediately accessible to your elephant friend. Your elephant friend has complete, instantaneous access to ALL threats from your entire history.

Even threats NOW that FAINTLY RESEMBLE threats from 30 years ago will trigger you in a fraction of a second now, as if the 30 year old threat was recurring NOW.

Your elephant friend believes that you were born JUST MOMENTS AGO in a universe that started JUST MOMENTS AGO.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 55 or 85, your elephant friend thinks you have been alive for JUST A FEW MOMENTS. JUST A FEW HEARTBEATS.

Your elephant friend doesn’t know how old you are and nor does it care.

Your elephant friend believes that when you die, it dies. It doesn’t want to die so it is very motivated to keep you alive.

YOUR ELEPHANT FRIEND BELIEVES YOU (AND IT) WILL LIVE FOREVER if only you’re kept safe from harm, IF ONLY IT CAN stop you from doing something stupid.

Your elephant friend has no concept of “yesterday”, “today” or “tomorrow”.

YOUR ELEPHANT friend DENIES THE EXISTENCE OF TIME. It just has “THIS HERE NOW”.

YOUR ELEPHANT friend CAN’T READ a watch or a calendar.

Limbically, there is no time.

Limbically, you are timeless.

Limbically, you are born again each moment.

Limbically, you are ageless.

Limbically, you are immortal.

Good news - Because your elephant friend only understands PRESENT EXPERIENCE and it learns in an instant, no matter how old you are and no matter how long you have had your problem, you are only ever JUST MOMENTS AWAY from starting to change all this.

“But There Is NO WAY I Learned This! It Hurts! I Must Have Been Born With This Because There Is No Way I Would Willingly Do This To Myself!”

It’s not YOU doing it to you, it’s your elephant friend doing it to you. It thinks it’s HELPING!

Your elephant friend LOVES YOU.

It’s one part of you acting to keep all the other parts of you safe and whole.

The trouble is, you both inhabit the same brain.

The other trouble is, we don’t really have a “single” brain.

We have a number of brain systems that work more or less independently most of the time. They can cooperate or not. When they don’t cooperate, we tend to suffer.

How Your Elephant Friend Adds New Threats

When things happen in our world at the same time, our elephant friend protects us by linking them emotionally. It does this thousands of times each day, every day, from the day we’re born to the day we die.

WHAT YOU THINK HAPPENS NOW

Whatever’s happening in front of you right now, call that [A].

You perceive [A] as dangerous, as some sort of threat.

You react to [A].

You experience pain and you say “[A] caused it” and you get furious at [A].

You spend a lot of time and energy avoiding [A] and complaining about it.

WHAT HAPPENED LONG AGO

Long ago, two things happened in your world around the same time, call them [A] and [T].

[A] was harmless. [T] was a terrible threat that harmed you or came close to harming you.

Your elephant friend tagged [T] as dangeous and made a special emotional memory of what your body-state reaction felt like in the whole terrible situation (this body-state is typically painful).

Your elephant friend ALSO tagged [A] as DANGEROUS even though it was harmless!

Why?

Because your elephant friend does NOT have the luxury of TIME and also because it is stupid.

Your elephant friend makes lots of (poor-quality) decisions AT LIGHTSPEED because it has to make life-and-death decisions FAST, so it can react in time to save you if need be.

Your elephant friend wants to protect you at all costs, so it prefers to make the over-protective mistake of “tagging-safe-things-as-dangerous” rather than the under-protective mistake of “tagging-dangerous-things-as-safe” because the latter would leave you vulnerable to undetected threats. Better safe than sorry.

One name for this process is “Pavlovian conditioning”. All humans do this. We are learning machines. We HAVE to do it to be successful in the world.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS NOW

this goes through your head if you don't shut up

[A] happens in front of you.

Your elephant friend looks up [A]’s tag: DANGEROUS!

To PROTECT you, to get your conscious attention really fast so you can DEAL WITH THE THREAT, your elephant friend RE-CREATES FROM MEMORY THE UNPLEASANT BODY-STATE YOU EXPERIENCED LONG AGO AS A RESULT of [T].

You could also think about this as: your elephant friend creates a body-state NOW that you could have used to PROTECT YOURSELF BACK THEN.

Your elephant friend does all this BEFORE you are even conscious that [A] has happened.

So it’s only at this point that you start freaking out, thinking you’re reacting to [A].

No!

Are you reacting to terrible [T]?

No!

Terrible [T] is NOT happening now.

Terrible [T] is LONG GONE.

[A] has reminded your elephant friend of a threat [T] from your past. Your elephant friend has re-created an unpleasant body state as a SIGNAL for you to protect yourself from imminent harm.

You’re reacting to an EMOTIONAL MEMORY REPLAY MADE REAL IN YOUR BODY NOW.

Your elephant friend holds the EMOTIONAL MEANING and body-states of threat [T] memories in your brain in your amygdala, which is a different place from where your cognitive memories are held.

The emotional association between [A] and [T] is often HIDDEN from us, outside our day-to-day adult cognitive awareness and not normally accessible, because the emotional memory of [T] is held BY OUR ELEPHANT FRIEND.

Moving [T] from emotional memory to cognitive memory strips the negative emotion from it because it tags the threat as “SAFE” in your elephant friend’s list of threat templates.

Nothing of me is original. I am the combined efforts of everyone I’ve ever known.

Chuck Palahniuk

“But I Had A Happy, Normal Childhood And Nothing Bad Happened To Me”

Lucky you.

And yet, internally, you still react sometimes as though you have to fight for your life.

Did you know that your elephant friend perceives many other types of COMPLETELY ORDINARY occurrence as equally threatening as “big T” trauma?

I like David Rock’s S.C.A.R.F. model, which is about threats to our status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, fairness - being ignored, dismissed, silenced, humiliated, embarrassed, disrespected, degraded, devalued, betrayed, ridiculed, insulted, accused, judged, treated unjustly, dominated, controlled, manipulated, shamed, demeaned, dumped, abandoned, rejected, cast out, isolated, ostracised, excluded.

THE VAST MAJORITY OF “MISOPHONIACS” ARE REACTING TO THESE TYPES OF THREATS, NOT PHYSICAL ONES.

Emotional threats light up the SAME pain areas in your brain as physical threats! (Tip: This means you can reduce emotional pain by taking headache tablets!)

These everyday SCARF threats are JUST as perceptually painful as “big T” trauma (eg. being assaulted, beaten, raped, drugged, tortured, imprisoned).

Your elephant friend will react JUST AS STRONGLY to:

  • protect you from looking bad
  • protect you from situations where you can’t predict what’s going to happen
  • protect you from losing choices and options and freedoms
  • protect you from people you distrust
  • protect you from being treated unfairly and unjustly
  • protect you from situations where these things happen to people you care about

The SCARF model ties together the key social domains that are either rewarding for us or threatening to us, and is driving our behaviour, mostly subconsciously, all the time.

David Rock on the SCARF Model (3 mins)

David Rock - Google Tech Talk 2009 Your Brain at Work (55 mins)

“But There’s A Special Name For What I Have!”

maybe it's maybelline

It’s your elephant friend who has the thing with the special name, not you!

Sometimes, when we’ve suffered alone for so long and we find a name for what we’re experiencing, we get an enormous sense of relief because we can point to something OUTSIDE OURSELVES and go “Yes! See? That’s it! That’s what I’ve got!” and then we identify with our problem and we find other people who have the same problem and we join groups and clubs and we don’t feel so alone and crazy.

The things that human beings get distressed about haven’t changed much in thousands of years, yet our diagnostic labels change like clothes fashion. I guess if you claim you’re the first one somewhere, you get to say what it is that others will see.

A label alone has no therapeutic power. Diagnosis is only worthwhile if it tells you WHAT TO DO.

You don’t HAVE “misophonia”, you ARE “misophonic”. And you are NOT misophonic 100% of your waking life. This changes it from something you HAVE to something you DO, and only in certain circumstances.

Your misophonia is limbic NOW. If you use limbic tools NOW, you can change your limbic responses in the FUTURE. Your future is next year and next week and your next heartbeat.

All behaviour is changeable if you can make some alternative behaviour SAFER.

“But What Can I Do When Nobody Takes Me Seriously?”

elephant taxi

Start taking your elephant friend seriously.

“But How Can I Get Rid Of This Issue That I’ve Had For Many Years?”

Your elephant friend does not have the concept of “issue” or “many years” or even “year”.

Your elephant friend believes it’s been keeping you safe for only a few moments.

Mismatch Experiences Remove Threat Signatures

The SIMULTANEOUS combination of SAFE + DANGEROUS is what changes things.

SAFE experiences alone change nothing: “NO THREAT HERE, NOT INTERESTED”.

This is why positive affirmations don’t work. Your elephant friend is supremely bored with all your positive affirmations and is waiting patiently for you to get bored with them too, and when you do, it’s going to yell “SURPRISE! PINBALL TIME!”.

DANGEROUS experiences alone change nothing: “YUP, I GOT IT, NOTHING NEW HERE”.

This is why a lot of exposure therapy and sensitivity training don’t work. Your elephant friend will dutifully do its normal thing, which is to juice you up and play pinball with your body.

Your elephant friend REALLY wants to collect lots and lots of threat templates and it NEVER changes a threat template on its own because it thinks it’s always right, so for you to persuade it to REMOVE one takes a LOT!

Good news - An experience of the unexpected, the novel, the strange, is what causes your elephant friend to say “WAIT A MINUTE, THIS IS NEW, I BETTER RE-ANALYSE THIS”. These situations get 100% of your elephant friend’s attention.

The weirdest thing that your elephant friend can experience is SAFETY + DANGER AT THE SAME TIME.

This is a “mismatch” experience because it mismatches what your elephant friend EXPECTS.

When you expect a threat and instead experience safety (or at least something SAFER) your threat response NEXT TIME will be WEAKENED.

Mismatch Tools Can Change Threat Templates In Minutes

Misophonics and phobics share the same STRENGTH of threat response, just in OPPOSITE directions.

The misophonic threat response is to FIGHT the trigger.

The phobic threat response is to FLEE from the trigger.

Phobias can be removed in MINUTES using limbic tools.

How NOT To Deal With A Phobia

Unfortunately, if you use the wrong tool, nothing changes and/or people suffer needlessly (a lot of exposure therapy falls into this category).

I’m 47 years of age. I’m terrified of pit bulls. My kids’ friends are always saying ‘Where’s your Dad? Do you have a Dad? He’s never here.’ I need this treatment to get back to life again, to get back to reality.

Petrified of Pit Bulls | My Extreme Animal Phobia (2 mins)

This exposure is going to bring up a lot of pain and memories from the past. This dog represents 40 years of being in pain.

Puppy Scares Man to Tears | My Extreme Animal Phobia (3 mins)

How To Remove A Phobia The Right Way

This method is one of many that work. It’s at least 30 years old and still not widely known. You can use it to operate on your memory of your “misophonia trigger birthday” (and/or to get rid of phonophobia - fear of sounds). I walk people through this process all day long so hit me up if you get stuck.

The whole procedure is very simple and you won’t feel bad.

Steve Andreas removing a 20 year phobia in 8 minutes

The Fast Phobia Trauma Cure Part 1 (9 mins)

I still can’t believe that’s all it took to fix that. I’m still, to this day, just amazed that it was so totally gone in such a short period of time. I couldn’t believe that by doing this movie thing, that was all there was to it. There was no reaction whatsoever after 25 years. It is one of the most phenomenal things I have ever experienced in my entire lifetime.

25 years later it’s still gone

Original NLP Fast Phobia Cure Part 2 - 25 Year Follow Up (4 mins)

“But How Is It Possible That Something That Happened 30 Years Ago Is Linked To Stuff Affecting Me Now?”

If time healed all wounds, old people would be happier.

Your elephant friend does not have the concept of “30 years ago”.

It doesn’t even have the concept of “years” or “year”. It thinks that stuff happened to you 30 heartbeats ago.

Can you understand why it’s still very touchy?

The potato you ate yesterday is now remembering things you did 30 years ago.

To heal a wound that doesn’t bleed, you have to persuade your elephant friend to mark the wound’s threat signature as “NOT SUCH A BIG DEAL ANY MORE”.

The choices you make today will be in your biography, and biology, tomorrow.

James Altucher

“But I’ve Struggled With This For Decades”

Your elephant friend does not have the concept of “decade”.

It thinks it’s been protecting you from threats and struggling to keep you alive and safe and whole for only a few moments.

It thinks it’s doing a GREAT JOB and it wishes you were more appreciative.

“But I Have Too Many Triggers!”

Your elephant friend can NEVER have too many triggers.

The more triggers it has, the SAFER IT FEELS and the happier it is.

“But Everything’s Gotten Worse And I Get New Triggers Even Now”

Your elephant friend LOVES adding new threat signatures to your threat list because it thinks it’s keeping you safe. It’s generalising your existing threats to new threats to keep you safe.

Your elephant friend wants to gather as many threat signatures as it can to reduce the risk of being blindsided.

Your elephant friend believes that IT and ONLY IT is keeping you alive so if it’s going to make any mistake at all, it prefers to make the mistake of OVER-PROTECTION rather than UNDER-PROTECTION.

The more threats your elephant friend can add to its threat list, the safer it feels.

Your elephant friend can recognise a new threat and add it to its list very quickly, the very first time it witnesses it, even if the threat lasts only a fraction of a second.

YOUR elephant friend will happily add new threats even when they happen to other people around you.

BONUS: Your elephant friend can’t tell the difference between a threat that is REALLY happening to you and a FICTIONAL threat that you are watching on TV or in a movie.

Your elephant friend wants to win the world record for “Longest List Of Threat Templates Held By An Elephant”.

“But I’ve Started To Get Visual Triggers As Well”

Your elephant friend thinks it’s doing a great job for you, adding more threat signatures from other sensory input systems.

“But I’ve Had These Difficulties Since I Was A Toddler And It Gets Worse Every Year Older I Get”

Your elephant friend has no concept of “difficulty” or “toddler” or “year” or “older”.

It gets worse because your elephant friend generalises new threat templates all the time.

Your elephant friend has signed up for an eternal, sacred mission to ACCUMULATE THREAT SIGNATURES FOR YOU, FOR EVER.

It’s not about time, it’s about choices. How are you spending your choices?

Beverly Adamo

“But Why Haven’t I Been Able To Fix Myself, Even Though I’ve Tried Really Hard For A Really Long Time?”

The bad news: Because elephants never forget.

The good news: Until you make something safer for them to remember instead.

Nothing has changed for you because nothing has changed from your elephant friend’s point of view.

If you lost your car-keys in the carpark, would you keep looking for them in your kitchen, DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY, just because there’s more light there?

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

If everything you’ve tried so far hasn’t worked, do you want to try something you haven’t tried yet?

If you want something different, you don’t need to do BETTER, you just need to do DIFFERENT.

Nothing will change for you until you make something safer from your elephant friend’s point of view.

My belt holds my pants up, but the belt loops holds the belt up. I’m not really sure what’s going on down there. Who’s the real hero?

Mitch Hedberg

“But I Feel Broken”

normal is just a setting on the dryer

Your elephant friend thinks it’s doing a wonderful job keeping you WHOLE.

“But I’ve Tried So Many Things And Spent So Much Money”

If you continue to argue with your limbic system and make no attempt to speak its language, it doesn’t matter what you try or how much money you spend, nothing will change.

“But My Reaction Is Connected To Some Really Bad Stuff That Happened To Me A Long Time Ago And I Don’t Want To Revisit It And Start Digging In The Garden Of Horror And Trauma”

Good news - You don’t have to.

Bad news - Your elephant friend does not have the concept of “a long time ago”. Your elephant friend thinks that stuff happened to you just a moment ago.

Bad news - If your elephant friend has connected the ordinary sounds of others with the threat of physical violence or physical violation, it is going to freak out whenever it hears them and it will take you along for the bumpy ride whether you like it or not.

Bad news - Your elephant friend LOVES trauma because then it gets to add lots of new threat templates. Trauma is novel experience that is sudden, unexpected, intense and isolating.

Good news - You do NOT have to fix terrible trauma memories to fix your reaction to their terrible sounds. You can change just your reaction to the sounds without going anywhere near the bad stuff.

Disclosure: I’m a therapist, although I prefer the label “counsellor”. And I don’t really do “therapy”. I do “memory” and “limbic safety” and “awesomeness”.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could persuade your elephant friend that the bad stuff NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED? I can teach you memory techniques for trauma that will do just that. You can keep it all private, you don’t need to talk about it and you don’t need to re-live it. Yes, I know that this is the opposite of what many other therapists will tell you.

“But I Was In Therapy For A While And Nothing Changed”

elephants never forget

Most people would rather stick a fork in their eye than talk to a therapist because it’s less painful and much less expensive.

Your therapist did not make anything limbically safer for you.

Your therapist did not change any of your amygdalan threat templates.

You can spend half a lifetime and the price of a really nice car in therapy and yet NOTHING will change if your threat templates remain unchanged. Many people come out the end of therapy as miserable as they went in. MOST people find MOST therapy to be ineffective and uncomfortable. Is it any wonder they quit?

Most counsellors and therapists spend a lot of time talking to YOU, and no time at all teaching you how to talk to your elephant friend.

Alice Believed She’d Be Sold As A Sex-Slave

you'll never take me alive

When Alice heard her colleague eating, Alice’s elephant friend believed that Alice was going to be sold as a sex-slave.

Operation Protect Alice: “GOD-SHE’S-EATING-THAT-APPLE-LIKE-SHE’S-PERFORMING-A-SEXUAL-ACT-SHE’S-JUST-LIKE-YOUR-MOTHER-WITH-HER-BIKINIS-AND-PAGEANTS-AND-SUGGESTIVE-SIGHING-AND-SUBMISSION-TO-YOUR-ERRATIC-DAD-AND-HER-CONSTANT-SUGGESTIONS-FOR-YOU-TO-MODEL-AND-YOU-DON’T-HAVE-TO-TAKE-THAT-ANY-MORE-AND-ANYWAY-THIS-GIRL-COULD-BE-SCOUTING-YOU-TO-BE-KIDNAPPED-FOR-IMMEDIATE-SHIPMENT-TO-THE-SEX-SLAVE-MARKETPLACE-LET’S-KILL-HER-NOW-OR-AT-LEAST-RUN-SCREAMING-FROM-THE-ROOM-YOU’RE-WELCOME”.

Alice is a grown woman. She has long since left home, and her relationship with her mother is fine.

Alice suffered in silence for 35 years.

Because Alice’s elephant friend hadn’t left home.

And you know what? If I believed there was imminent threat of ME being sold as a sex-slave, I’d get pretty outraged as well.

I spent a couple of hours with Alice, teaching her how to do the Rattlesnake Reframe (see below).

I guess the medical profession would call it “treatment”.

Anyone listening would call it “chatting”.

From then on, when Alice was triggered at work, she did the Rattlesnake Reframe. She got quite good at it.

Within a week or so, her reaction was one-third as strong as it had been.

Within a month or so, it was gone.

I guess the medical profession would call this a “cure”.

I call it “another day at the office”.

Dave Couldn’t Bear White Cats

Dave has a different (equally distressing) problem.

Dave does not have misophonia, but he learned how to do his problem in exactly the same way that misophonics do.

Misophonics are triggered AURALLY.

Dave is triggered VISUALLY - when his elephant friend SEES a white cat.

Dave had a terrible car accident and was trapped in his car for an hour while the firefighters cut him out.

He wrecked outside a house where a white cat lived.

During the whole time he was trapped in the car, limbs broken, bleeding everywhere, listening to the screech of the Jaws of Life crunching through the metal pinning his head, wondering whether he was going to live or die, he could see this damn white cat staring at him.

In a traumatic situation, we are wide open emotionally and that was more than enough for Dave’s limbic system (elephant friend/unconscious/subconscious/inner child/whatever) to do a great job tagging white cats from then on as “DUDE-I-CAN’T-PUT-MY-FINGER-ON-IT-BUT-SOMEHOW-WHITE-CATS-ARE-EVIL-SO-WHENEVER-I-DETECT-ONE-I-WILL-ALERT-YOU-BY-TAKING-YOUR-BODY-TO-DEFENCE-CONDITION-MAXIMUM-MAXIMUS-I’M-HERE-FOR-YOU-BUDDY-ROCK’N’ROLL-WATCH-YOUR-BACK”.

So from then on, even when all the physical scars have healed, even years later, whenever Dave sees a white cat, Dave freaks out for a few hours and he doesn’t know why and he thinks he’s the only one and he thinks there’s something wrong with him and he thinks he’s broken.

Does Dave have “Misofelinia”?

No, Dave doesn’t.

Does Dave have PTSD?

Some people would say so, although I’m not one of them.

I say Dave is a perfectly functioning human being.

Is the white cat dangerous? No.

Is what happened to Dave dangerous? Yes.

If Dave has disturbing flashbacks to the car accident, can he change those particular painful memories? Yes.

Can Dave teach his limbic system to tag white cats as safe again? Yes.

Does Dave have to change the memories of the car accident before he can make white cats safe again? No.

One fine Summer’s day, Dave’s new love brings home a white cat and Dave freaks out and they have a big fight and his new love blurts out “What is WRONG with you?” and Dave acquires sudden and burning motivation to CHANGE ALL THIS and that’s when Dave starts researching.

Dave finds me somehow, and over the next month or so, Dave and I have a few casual conversations and I teach him some basic elephant vocabulary and Dave has some private conversations with his elephant friend who then comes to believe that “GEE-WHITE-CATS-ARE-KIND-OF-BORING-AREN’T-THEY”, and then Dave gets on with his life and enjoys his new woman and she enjoys him.

Is Dave cured? No. Dave is just different. Dave was never ill.

Did I make something safer inside Dave? No. Dave made something safer inside Dave. He calmed his elephant friend down.

Can I talk to Dave’s elephant friend directly? No. Because his elephant friend trusts HIM and ONLY HIM.

YOUR elephant friend trusts YOU and YOU ALONE and will listen ONLY TO YOU and NO ONE ELSE.

Betty Goes Hulk On Gum Poppers

When Betty hears someone popping gum, Betty’s elephant friend believes that Betty is going to be randomly beaten again by her Dad like when she was young. Which was decades ago.

It initiates Operation Protect Betty which goes something like: “HEY-I-KNOW-THAT-BACK-THEN-YOU-HAD-NO-CHOICE-AND-YOU-JUST-HAD-TO-TAKE-IT-BUT-YOU’RE-OLDER-AND-STRONGER-AND-WISER-NOW-AND-BY-GOD-I’M-NOT-GOING-TO-LET-THAT-BAD-STUFF-HAPPEN-TO-YOU-EVER-AGAIN-SO-SEE-THAT-PERSON-IN-LINE-IN-FRONT-OF-YOU-AT-THE-BANK-WHO-JUST-POPPED-THEIR-GUM-FOR-THE-FIFTH-TIME-GREAT-NEWS-I’M-GOING-TO-CREATE-BERZERKER-RAGE-INSIDE-YOU-SO-YOU-HAVE-THE-STRENGTH-OF-TEN-ELEPHANTS-SO-YOU-CAN-BEAT-THE-LIVING-SNOT-OUT-OF-THEM-GO-GET-EM-TIGER-RAAAAAARGH-YOU’RE-WELCOME”.

The person chewing gum is not aware that Betty exists. Even if they did, they wouldn’t care squat about her.

The sound is something that happens IN THE WORLD. It’s just soundwaves at certain frequencies. Everyone around Betty is hearing the same sounds.

The BERZERKER RAGE is something that happens IN BETTY. Her elephant friend (her PROTECTIVE LIMBIC SYSTEM) has emotionally tagged the popping gum sound as “threat”.

Charlie Can’t Eat Dinner With His Wife

When Charlie hears his wife eating, Charlie’s elephant friend believes that his Dad is going to beat the daylights out of him again like when he was a kid.

Operation Protect Charlie: “YEAH-YEAH-SHE-LOOKS-LIKE-YOUR-WIFE-AND-SHE-ACTS-LIKE-YOUR-WIFE-BUT-WHEN-SHE-EATS-SHE-SOUNDS-LIKE-YOUR-DAD-SO-SHE-COULD-BE-AN-IMPOSTER-YEAH-IT’S-A-TRAP-AND-I’M-NOT-GOING-TO-LET-HIM-HURT-YOU-AGAIN-LIKE-HE-DID-ALL-THOSE-TIMES-SO-I’M-GOING-TO-MAKE-YOU-SHOUT-AT-HER-AND-YOUR-CHILD-AND-STORM-OUT-OF-THE-ROOM-SHAKING-UNCONTROLLABLY-YOU’RE-WELCOME”.

Charlie left home many years ago but Charlie’s elephant friend is still there.

Evelyn Tries To Eat With Nobody

cup of shut the fuck up

Unfortunately, her job requires her to eat with the kids she looks after.

Evelyn walks around with ear plugs in every coat and every bag. There are ear plugs in her car. There are ear plugs at work.

She tries very hard to hide the way she’s feeling, so she never eats with people and never travels on public transport.

Evelyn is completely cognitively aware of her trigger. Her Dad was an alcoholic, and at dinner times, he had just got home from work, and he hadn’t had enough to drink yet so he was on edge.

So the quiet, tense sound of eating would be followed by his sudden violent attacks.

She started trying to get away from the dinner table when she was 13. People thought she was anorexic. She just didn’t want to eat with people.

Evelyn has spent 25 years thinking that she was the only crazy one and that she was completely alone.

Now she’s a social worker and supervises children in care.

One day at work, she found herself at her least favourite place, the dinner table, with 8 kids eating. No music, no background sounds, just eating sounds.

She was having a really high trigger day and one of the boys asked her why she was wearing ear plugs.

She shouted: “Leave me the FUCK alone!”

Not her proudest moment.

But her elephant friend felt very proud for protecting her. Her elephant friend thought the boy was her Dad and made Evelyn shout at him, all the way back there in the past.

Evelyn saw a therapist for a while, to try to work on the trauma of her childhood meal times.

Unfortunately, as is common, her therapist did not know how to make things limbically safer for Evelyn, and Evelyn suffered all over again in therapy, so she quit.

Then she discovered misophonia and how everyone was saying it was a sensory processing disorder and she got REALLY HAPPY because that meant she wouldn’t need to do any work on it or go back to those meal times again!

Regardless, she still suffers.

“But Why Hasn’t My Doctor Told Me All This?”

Misophonia is certainly painful and debilitating but there’s nothing to “cure” or “treat” because it’s not an “auditory problem” or “neurological problem” or “medical problem”.

It’s an ordinary, adaptive, unwanted-conditioned-reaction problem.

Doctors treat “illness” and “injury” and “disease”. They don’t treat “wellness” or “successful adaptive behaviour”.

Doctors have to start from the premise that there’s something “wrong” because treating “wrong” is their job.

And they don’t speak “elephant friend” at all.

Is it any wonder they find this so difficult to treat?

They might be compassionate and do a wonderful job treating your symptoms. They might set you up for months of audiology sensitivity training. They might prescribe benzodiazepines and antidepressants to emotionally anaesthetise you - the pills cut the bottoms off all your lows and the tops off all your highs, so say goodbye to half your humanity.

If you can get your problem fixed by going to a doctor, more power to you. If you can’t, talk to me.

I don’t use words like “right” and “wrong”.

I use “safe” and “dangerous” and I start with the premise that everything’s okay.

“But Why Isn’t All This Stuff More Widely Known?”

Whilst I long ago realised that the world would be a much better place if I was in charge, I have grudgingly accepted that I’m not.

irrelephant

“But I Have Paid Other People A Lot Of Money To Fix This And They Have Failed”

That happens a lot. They didn’t change your elephant friend.

I don’t want to fix you. I don’t want to give you answers. I don’t want to impress you. I don’t want you to be different. I only want to meet you, exactly as you are, beyond your stories, your hopes and dreams, your games, your protections, here and now. If you feel confused, feel confused now. If you feel frightened, feel frightened now. If you are bored, let’s get bored together. If you are burning with rage, let’s burn together consciously awhile and see what happens. I want to meet what’s really here, behind the mask, beyond the myth. Perhaps then, great change is possible.

Jeff Foster

“But It’s Now Widely Accepted As A Sensory Processing Disorder”

Feel free to now widely accept my ass.

What do you have to think about to INCREASE your desire to strangle someone who’s making noise?

You can get JUST as upset by remembering and imagining being triggered as you can REALLY being triggered! With NO EXTERNAL SENSORY INPUT AT ALL! By the way, this is completely normal. It’s what makes us human.

Imagine, in turn, being triggered by: your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your boss, your pastor, your best friend, your worst enemy, Kermit The Frog, Elvis, Jesus, Mother Teresa, The Dalai Lama, Marilyn Monroe, Batman, the guy at the fruit shop, a complete stranger, a prisoner, a newborn baby, someone close to death, someone physically close to you, someone physically far away, your most hated school teacher, your favourite school teacher.

The strength of your reaction to each one will be different because your emotional judgement about each one will be different.

Imagine a guy who beats up his wife every Friday night and says “But I’ve got a sensory processing disorder and she keeps doing that thing that provokes me”. Do we say he’s got “Miso-wife-ia”? No, we send him to anger management class so he can learn how to control himself better.

Irrespective of YOUR beliefs about the neurology, pharmacology, psychology or etiology of whatever label is popular this month, I believe you were NOT born with an unchangeable limbic destiny.

Another example of the myth of “now widely accepted”: It is now widely accepted that I am awesome.

If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.

Thomas Pynchon (Gravity’s Rainbow)

How To Do The Rattlesnake Reframe

rattlesnake cartoon

This is one way (of many) to do Pavlovian conditioning IN REVERSE.

Very briefly:

Find the memory of the past threat [T] and bring [T] to awareness.

When you’re (accidentally or deliberately) triggered by harmless [A], say out LOUD (or LOUDLY to yourself inside your head if there are people around):

1) “No [T], you can’t hurt me any more”.

2) “Thank-you Elephant Friend for noticing [A] and keeping me safe from [T]”.

Done a few times, this effectively says to your elephant friend: “NO REALLY, I’M SAFE NOW, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, I GOT IT, YOU’RE GOLDEN, TAKE CARE, LET’S DO LUNCH SOMETIME”.

You MUST react within half a second to the trigger [A]. Like a rattlesnake striking.

You MUST acknowledge the threat [T]. If you don’t, your elephant friend will ignore you.

This will cause your elephant friend to tag [A] as safe and it will soon lose interest because your elephant friend is only interested in THREAT-DANGERS.

From then on, you won’t react to [A]. Misophonic symptoms dramatically reduce or disappear entirely. Sounds stay in the background and you don’t even notice them.

If you deliberately operate like this, you can reasonably expect the intensity of your reaction to [A] to drop by two-thirds within a week or so.

If you continue deliberately operating, you can expect it gone in a month or so.

You can wait until [A] happens by accident in your world, or you can deliberately trigger yourself with [A]. You can change things faster if you practise deliberately triggering yourself and operating immediately. You may need to operate separately on each [A] trigger, if you have more than one.

Sometimes [T] then dissolves on its own. If it doesn’t, there are many ways to operate specifically on [T] if you want to. If the memory of [T] bothers you in daily life, there are ways to change it without having to talk about it or re-live it.

You do NOT have to make [T] safe in order to make [A] safe. You can operate on [A] and [T] independently. You do NOT have to operate on [T] at all if you don’t want to.

Once you become meta to something, you no longer HAVE to do it, it becomes an option, and you can actually laugh at the thought you used to have to do that. … Humbled as I have been most of my life, I find little to grieve over and much to celebrate about when I realize that people do what they ‘must do’ when confronted by any and every situation, in consideration of what happened to them throughout their lives.

Doyle Henderson

The Importance Of Speaking The Language

If you travelled to a foreign country where they only spoke their own language, and you weren’t even aware they had their own language, can you see how it would be really difficult to get anything done?

You’d keep trying, and failing, to teach the native population to speak your language. You WOULD succeed in making a lot of people mad.

elephant wedding problems

Growing up, I learned German at school, and one December my Dad took me for a holiday to Germany. We were there around Christmas, very cold, and we found ourselves in a town square somewhere just before lunch and we were very hungry.

We saw all these people getting this steaming soup that smelled divine so an unavoidable opportunity arose for me to practise my German.

What I thought I said: “Two bowls of Minestrone, please.”

What I actually said: “Two testicles of Minestrone, please.”

The bad news: Some of the folks in the shop fell about laughing.

The good new: We got the soup and it was warm, nutritious and delicious.

That day, we got what we wanted, but if you don’t speak ANY of the language, typically you don’t.

I know very little about cars so when my car starts making an unexpected noise, I don’t attempt to speak Carburetto What-The-Hell-Is-That-Noise-O.

I take it to a mechanic. Because mechanics speak car language.

And if the first mechanic doesn’t fix it, I take it to another one.

About Me

a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor

I am living proof that someone can change their own limbic responses.

If I can teach myself to change MY reaction to IMAGINARY, HALLUCINATED SOUNDS, I can teach you how to change YOUR reaction to REAL SOUNDS.

People ask me: “So, how come you figured all this out?”

Short answer: I had to find out what worked in order to stay alive.

Longer answer: Software engineer for 25 years, anxiety and depression up the wazoo, psychotic break with aural and visual hallucinations (not as much fun as it sounds), took the magic white pills for a few years, spent vast amounts of cash on therapy, read a thousand books.

My mind played lots of tricks on me so I had to learn how to play tricks on it. We get along much better these days. Lots more giggling. I got what I wanted (I lived and became awesome) ONLY because I learned to speak a new language and practised it a lot. I was forced to learn “retarded elephant friend” to survive because for a while there, MY elephant-friend was killing me (it thought it was saving me).

Now, I speak “Retardo Elephanto” fluently. It took me about 7 years.

I thought it would NEVER HAPPEN, but now, I’m supersonic.

Now, I’m an online counsellor. I live in Brisbane, Australia and I chat with folks all over the world, all the time.

I teach people how to talk to their elephants so that everyone calms down. I turn dangerous things into safe things. I teach people how to change “the way it is” into “the way it was”.

Your Next Step

hornet breaking sound barrier

Say Hello

We can chat for half-an-hour or so, no strings attached. I get in touch with people I don’t know to talk about this stuff because this is how I find folks to help.

  • “It’s just so hard finding people who know how to help”
  • “I paid for 80 sessions of neurofeedback and I would have had more fun blowing all that cash at the casino”

You don’t have to live with this anymore. Want to go supersonic too?

P.S. “A Ritual To Read To Each Other”

elephants holding tails

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

William Stafford

Copyright © Owen Pearn, 2014-2017.