September 11, 2014
Expository Writing 101:ND Paper #1
The Sanity Behind Insanity
In the face on impending danger, the human brain resorts to primitive instinct to seek salvation. Instincts that drive humans to run from fires, fight off attackers, and hide from their worst nightmares. When those nightmares live deep inside their own minds rather than outside the body, the only way to escape them is through dissociation. Dissociation, the process of disconnecting one’s conscious awareness from his or her physical being to achieve a state of being “away” from reality, provides average humans with a relief from the brutalities of everyday life and victims and witnesses of serious traumas a way to avoid their memories.
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The human brain uses dissociation to protect against the recurrence of a tragic event by creating high levels of vigilance in similar situations to the original trauma. In doing so, the brain manages to indicate to the body that danger may be approaching while avoiding complete reminders of the trauma. When a traumatic memory is encoded, “Overwhelming emotional significance registered by the amygdala actually leads to a decrease in hippocampal activation, such that some of the traumatic input is not usefully organized by the hippocampus, or integrated with other memories. The result is that portions of traumatic memory are stored not as parts of a unified whole, but as isolated sensory images and bodily sensations that are not localized in time or even in situation, or integrated with other events” (421). The brain recognizes that a given memory contains too much emotional significance for the body to handle, so in an act to preserve the health and sanity of the individual, the memory encodes in fragments to allow increased caution in similar future situations while also suppressing the majority of the recollection. Dissociation, utilized as a neurological defense against traumatic memories, occurs at some point on different levels to all members of society. If the majority of individuals share the same experience, it cannot be classified as abnormal. However, people tend to attempt to differentiate themselves from the “insane” that dissociate