Survival circuits and therapy: from automaticity to the conscious experience of fear and anxiety

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APA Citation: 

Hayes, S. C., & Hofmann, S. G. (2018). Survival circuits and therapy: from automaticity to the conscious experience of fear and anxiety. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 24, 21-25.

Publication Topic: 
CBS: Conceptual
Publication Type: 
Article
Language: 
English
Keyword(s): 
survival circuits, implicit cognition, psychotherapy
Abstract: 

We will briefly examine the implication of a multi-dimensional and multi-level view of evolution for addressing the role and function of survival circuits in the context of human cognition, and the underlying emotional, memory, and behavioral processes both impact. It is our contention that human cognition can partially direct and channel these more ancient neurobiological regulatory systems. We argue that while survival circuits can be helpful or hurtful to human functioning, they are particularly likely to be problematic when they occur in the context of cognitive processes that have become automatic and well-practiced, and thus beyond normal conscious processes of cognitive control. Psychotherapy can be of help in increasing access to such ‘unconscious’ process, reducing their automatic impact, and allowing human goals and values to over-ride maladaptive processes engaged by survival circuits.

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