Home » Articles »

Anxiety & Panic Attacks Research Findings

What is Emotion and How Does it Play a Part in Your Anxiety Disorder?


Carl Lange and William James are the forefathers of modern behavioral psychology and their theories surrounding the emotions form the bedrock for modern psychological understanding.

Vitally, their theory became the recognized science behind behavioral psychology and their work around the emotion of fear confirms the science that both produces anxiety and removes it. In the cause lies the cure.

The findings of these two great men confirmed that the physical response precedes conscious thought, which means that your body ACTS before your conscious mind has the option to make decisions.

Carl LangeCarl Lange   William James
William James

This being the case, the reason that anxiety disorder sufferers do not benefit from talking therapies such as CBT is because they are scientifically flawed in the treatment of high anxiety conditions.

To understand what this means to you... imagine the 'feeling' of being happy... the emotion of happiness and now 'strip away' the physical responses... the laughter, the smiling, the changes in breathing, muscle tension etc. and what are you left with? Nothing... just a 'thought' or notion of happiness. You see, the reason you KNOW you are scared is because the physical 'symptoms' tell you so.

How does this affect you?

You have anxiety disorder. But what does that actually mean? It means that your anxiety levels are stuck at a high level instead of subsiding after the ‘threat?has gone.

You respond with high anxiety even when no REAL threat is present.

This is because your subconscious mind no longer searches EXTERNALLY for threats, it finds your anxiety symptoms and reacts to them as if they are the threat. Incredible, but true ?your anxiety is causing anxiety and your body responds.

Operant Conditioning

Through a process called neuroplasticity, your brain has created new biological wiring that reinforces your anxious behaviour. As you pass through environments, your senses collect information that is sent back to the mind and this data is either stored or discarded. As your anxiety disorder forms, your behaviors and responses reinforce the emotion of fear.

This behavior is called Operant Conditioning, a process discovered and studied by a scientist who is one of the forefathers of modern psychology, Burrhus Frederic Skinner. Skinner was an American psychologist who showed that carrying out certain behaviors followed by a reinforcing stimuli would 'etch' that behavior into the mind as neural pathways of learning. This is how anxiety disorders form.

Extract from the National Institute Of Mental Health Website"

"Studies have focused specific brain areas and circuits involved in anxiety and fear, such as panic disorder. It has been found that the body's fear response is coordinated by a small structure deep inside the brain, called the amygdala." (NIMH 2004)

So, what does this mean to anxiety and panic attacks sufferers?

It means that existing therapies which address the disorder by teaching coping strategies are completely misplaced and that actually, drug therapy isn't the answer either, although I am sure that someone will produce, a so called, 'wonder drug' at some point in the future.

If the Amygdala is the core controler of anxiety disorders in the brain, then therapeutic practices which address the imbalanced reactions within the organ are the most effective. Well Mr. Linden, it looks like you've proved your point! When will mainstream medicine listen up?