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Panic Attacks & Fear: A Clanging of Cymbals? (part dos)

We began a two-part discussion yesterday regarding panic attacks, fear, and symbolism. I’d like to wrap it up with today’s post, as we continue our chat about the smoking car engine (who could forget that!).

Within the context of our smoking engine scenario (part uno), I would propose that a suspect belief system, as well as associated dysfunctional reactions, may be driven by assorted unconscious issues symbolized by the smoking engine. Much of this is based in rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT).

How ‘bout we focus upon this one. Is it possible that the smoking engine and a car that could soon breakdown are actually, within our unconscious minds, a self-representation? I mean, the vast majority of our self-statements and themes are likely based in feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, rage, humiliation, shame, self-degradation, abandonment, and annihilation.

No doubt about it, we’re on the very front door step of the psychoanalytic dynamic known as fragmentation – an emotional and mental sense of losing any sort of self-cohesion. Indeed, feeling as though we’re falling to pieces. Come on, think about it. Do you really believe these overpowering feelings pound away at us multiple times a day because of a car? I don’t think so.

I would propose that all of the distress and dysfunction is rooted in our conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings about self, our life circumstances, and the potential of these factors to rip us apart and destroy us. But for any number of reasons, we aren’t able to make the personal connection, so we unconsciously elect to assign it to a car with a smoking engine.

This identification and insight is vitally important because if we miss it, we’ll go on fooling ourselves by believing the smoking engine is the real problem begging for resolution. No, it’s actually our self-generated deep feelings of fear, inadequacy, anger, rage, humiliation, shame, self-degradation, abandonment, and pending annihilation that require immediate attention.

Within the context of our discussion, this is how fear often perpetuates. We move through life trying to manage what we believe to be the fear-inducing person or event, all along ignoring the true source of our fear. And we get nowhere, but lost.

So what are the lessons to be learned from this particular discussion of fear? In the midst of the whirlwind of anticipatory anxiety and in-the-present fear, we need to have the mental discipline and open-mindedness to deeply examine the thoughts and feelings generated by the people and situations that trigger our fears. And then, listen long and hard enough to let them tell the stories we need to hear. Indeed, strongly consider and evaluate the symbolism of the people and objects we fear.

Yes, we need to glean from the dynamics of the present all we can about our fears and their background. And as we secure important identifications and connections, we need to strive to process them with a goal of resolution.

I believe this work is extremely revealing, not to mention endlessly helpful in an effort to stitch many wounds; allowing us to discard boxes of bandages.

How strong is that?

And just how strong do you think the information in these two posts is? How ’bout some comments. Really, how could you make this work for you?

  • Penny Bond

    These two posts are great! The “clanging of symbols” is the noise of our negative thoughts about a situation that emerge from the core of how we think about ourselves. Our emotions rise up to tell us in no uncertain terms that something is amiss. And we think it is the circumstances (symbols) that are making us feel so bad. But, if we investigate what we are thinking, we can realize what’s underneath all of the noise. Then, if we allow it, peace…
    Love the clarity with which you write.

    • Bill

      Well, hi Penny! Nice to have you back. And thanks for your input. chipur folks…Penny wrote a guest post for chipur (was panicattackology at the time) two days before Christmas last year. Penny is a SCENAR practitioner and co-owner of Healing Innovations Pain Relief Center in Asheville, NC. And (if she’s reading my reply) she’s welcome to get in touch anytime and talk about another guest post. Bill

  • Bill

    chipur reader, Karen, gave me permission to add this piece of an email she sent me today as a comment. “Today’s post pulled the 2 together for me. I would just prefer someone else do all of the work necessary for resolution, at least today (and I am ok with that- priorities for now). One question though- I can only assume resolution will require unwrapping each layer of the onion–and so much of it reveals “stuff” that we barely remember or didn’t attach significance to because of other things going on. At what point in our lives do we just get to be?? I’m tired.” Karen

    • Bill

      I emailed in return that there used to be a time when “peeling the onion” was a top priority for me. I actually embraced the insight-oriented therapies. But I’ve come to know that life is about living NOW, hence in-the-moment therapies have become more attractive to me. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t times when, say, some psychoanalytic work wouldn’t be helpful, but I’m striving for “just get to be,” according to Karen. Bill

  • Abby

    hey Bill! Nice site! I have been pondering the role of imagination in psychotherapy and healing as of late, so I appreciated this post specifically as it relates to that!

    • Bill

      Hi Abby! So glad you stopped by. You sure said you would and you did. Ah, a woman of her word. Glad you enjoyed the post. Please visit anytime.

  • rambleman

    Great article makes much sense, I think for me Its really about self awareness, you know why am I so afraid of what so and so may think , is it because I need them to like me so I can feel better about myself ,I don’t trust my own positive evaluation about myself , so I need them to be my mirror, am I really angry with this group or am I afraid because deep down I know I’m inadequate to deal with them, self honesty and self awareness is the greatest of gifts , and I try and tell this to people, without the ability to open ourselves up and have a good look at what’s going on, we will like you say keep putting bandages on wounds, that can be stitched or perhaps don’t need a bandage just a bit of fresh air, I myself just want to be a good human being , so I keep a watch on my angers jealousy s fears vanity s , because to be honest I don’t see what good any of these have done for me or anyone else, I believe them to be more animal than human , so I aim to turn anger into motivation, jealousy into peaceful acceptance,fear into survival, vanity into humility, this I believe is human .

    • Hey, rambleman. I’m glad you stopped-by for a visit. And, frankly, I’m really pleased to have a comment on a piece going on six-years-old. Man. I say this all the time, but thing is, it’s one thing for me to write an article, imparting knowledge. But it becomes so much better when others – like you – comment, offering their experience and wisdom. I mean, the article becomes so much more valuable to those who’ll visit in the days (years) ahead.

      Yeah, “…I myself just want to be a good human being…” I like that. Thanks for your visit and contribution…

      Bill