The Threat Response in Primates

Chapter One of The Relief of Suffering – The Threat Response in Primates / A deeper understanding of fight-or-flight consciousness

The human brain functions in a specific way; Like with a machine, our experiences as individuals are representative of that function. However, the brain functions you inherited or adopted or even created are not definitive of your full potential. I’ll say that again. Your current or past brain functions are not at all representative of your potential future brain functions. All of us can improve the performance of our brains.

To begin, we must understand that every experience we have, as humans, begins by the triggering of a chemical reaction. As protein is digested, it is converted to an amino acid called phenylalanine, which is then converted to tyrosine. Tyrosine is the amino acid precursor for the neurotransmitters which govern our lives.

Every thought, feeling, emotion; every experience of your reality and even how you experience your identity is the byproduct of neurotransmitter activity. If you’re happy, it’s one chemical. If you are angry or sad or insecure, it’s another. All human experience is chemically driven.

Whether it is the experience of happiness or sorrow, success or pain, it might be our perspective of the world or even our sense of self, everything that is human experience is a chemical reaction. But, to make real change in our life, it is not the reactions we must address, it is the mechanism that triggers the chemical. So to begin this discussion, I would like to review where our triggers begin.

Put simply, sensory information – sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell – combines with memories to create chemical reactions in our brain. To have a full understanding of this concept, we cannot think of memories as videos from our past. While they can seem like videos when we access them, memories are actually individually stored data of all our experiences. The videos we imagine to be memory are instances of combined data presented in a way we can comprehend.

The more important thing to understand about the stored data of memory is that memories are not bound to your experience of living alone. We are all born with the stored memory of our ancestors as well. These memories are often referred to as genetic tendencies. They might be primal fears or even abilities at which we are naturally adept.

In addition to the primal memories and personal experiences, our brain is also measuring environmental conditions, like the time of day, time of year, or even barometric pressure. We are processing tastes and smells we don’t even realize at a conscious level, like pheromones or even the taste of our own chemical reactions. Any of these memory sources – conditions of the environment, personal experience, or ancestral data – can combine with incoming sensory data to form a sensory trigger. 

Whether it is a phobia, the experience of seasonal depression, the smell of freshly-baked brownies or the comfort of a warm bed, all our experiences of life are the results of sensory triggers creating a chemical release that we experience as a state of consciousness. Our varying states of consciousness then becomes our life experience.

It is good to remember, the sensory triggers can be positive, negative, or even neutral, nothing is inherent. Triggers are always the predecessor of chemical reactions and the consciousness that chemical reaction creates.

You can continue you now with the Are you ready? Questions for Contemplation. The link is listed below or in the menu on the left. Once you’ve completed the questions, we’ll take a look at what causes triggers.

Thank you for participating in my program. I look forward to connecting with you on the journey.

Questions for Contemplation