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Theory on Evolutionary Cause of Stress Caused by DP/DR and How to Combat It


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Sorry I have been away so long everyone. Please take this seriously. I have a psychology degree, and these are not things I thought up today, but theories accumulated through years of having HPPD, a year of reflection upon it, and through the aid of the degree in psychology.

The majority of my theories on exactly why different symptoms of HPPD are crippling in their respective ways hinge on biological, evolutionary responses elicited by what would normally be non-threatening stimuli. Most of the anxiety built up by DP/DR I believe are due to instinctual flight or fight responses due to the non-recognition of stimuli, of what one is looking at. If you are stressed, your instinctual, animal self, the self that has evolved virtually none in ten thousand years, assumes danger is lurking. In essence, your logical self realizes there is no actual danger, no saber-tooth tiger lurking in the bushes, but the instinctual part of your brain, as an evolutionary precaution, assumes first and foremost that it is dangerous, thus giving the body the greatest capacity to defend itself if necessary. Essentially, many of the difficulties we face with HPPD is this animalistic part of the mind assuming, since we do not recognize things immediately as a normal human would, that what we look at is a threat, and should be treated as such, which results in a constantly higher level of stress.

Take the human face, for example. To not recognize a face, or even the 'humanness' of a face, is to assume it is a stranger, perhaps a stranger from another, rival clan. The animal brain will always assume the worst, a thing scientifically proven through endless studies. Again, this is evolutionary design. Faces differ in extremely minute ways, yet they are the critical element we use to distinguish humans from one another. With the visual distortions HPPD causes, these otherwise less significant distortions become multiplied when looking at a face, because the human brain is designed to gather enormous details from looking at that face. So since all faces look bizarre with HPPD, a massive amount of information is acquired that is mutated by the depersonalization and realization. So, in short, human faces are particularly vulnerable to the distortions caused by HPPD, because a greater amount of sensory input is being distorted

This can even occur looking at one's own reflection. I know this was my own experience. Logically, I was aware it was my face. However, the animalistic part of me did not, and thus, it assumed a stranger. And if there is a stranger in my home at 2 A.M., when it is dark and the only person who would logically appear at this time would likely be a burglar or murderer or some kind of threat, the animalistic part of my brain assumed the worst. To this day, seeing my own darkened silhouette in my door elicits a fight or flight response within me.

In essence, whatever the brain cannot categorize as recognized and safe, it classifies as a potential danger, thus raising stress levels. This is why DP/DR can be so hellish. One is constantly feeling, even if only on the very fringes of the conscious, that there are potential enemies everywhere.

So, how does one combat this? Here are the techniques I have come up with:

1) Choose what stimuli to focus on. If the reflection in the doorway frightens you, as it does me, choose to pay it no attention.

2) If one is incapable to avoid the stressful stimuli, choose to put forth effort to deny the negative thoughts, the fearful thoughts, that accumulate. If there is anything in your immediate surroundings to focus on that is pleasant, focus on it. If there is nothing positive to look at, choose to put forth the effort to fight the negative thoughts, and think of something pleasant. This is not easily done, and requires effort. It may tire you out. But it is a muscle just like any other muscle, and it can be strengthened.

3) Workout. Essentially, with DP/DR, one is, no matter what, going to endure the extra stress from fight or flight responses elicited from illogical sources (for example, my computer speakers used to literally scare me, and to this day can still seem a bit like they are staring at me, calculating something menacing, two eyes staring, etc etc). This, while DP/DR persists, I do not believe can be helped. One cannot simply turn off the symptoms of DP/DR. So, stopping DP/DR is out of the question.

What does this mean?

One is thrust into either one of two extreme positions:A) one of constant fear at potential inability to defend one's self from the onslaught of fear elicited from illogical stimuli, or, one is constantly aware of this fear, but feels capable to defend oneself from these stimuli.

4) Winner's mindset. This is a technique I stumbled upon through, believe it or not, videogames, but it can be built through any competitive effort, or any effort where one is put under pressure to perform and must focus past that pressure and fear and succeed in the present. This is the mental equivalent of being physically strong. In whatever way you can, you must try to prove to yourself that, when it is crunch time, you will be victorious. It is not an overnight process. It is something I work at every day. It is a relatively new technique for me, and I try to put myself under pressure quite often during the day, even in such menial situations as trying to throw a piece of paper into a trashcan where people are around to criticize me, laugh at me, if I fail. What matters is one's 'mental muscle'. It matters far less whether the paper goes in the trashcan than whether I was completely focused on the act at hand, not the repercussion.

This is one of the few things that I believe the animal mind (the 'subconscious' as it's often referred to, but I think in this case, the definition is clumsy) responds to. It can feel confidence. The animal mind is engineered to appraise the severity of a threat as quickly as possible. If one has been going through daily life engaging in activities that constantly reaffirm a feeling of likelihood or capability to succeed in stressful situations, the animal mind will appraise threats reflectively, and thus reduce the stress level it initiates.

So, in summary, I think someone with DP/DR, without aid of medication or some kind of natural reduction in the severity of the symptoms, can do little to simply not feel its effects. (Meditation is another technique I should mention, for it calms the mind and thus, the animalistic mind feels less stress, and thus assumes less danger, but I myself have not yet incorporated this into my daily routine.) I believe one is thrust into one of either two extreme positions: that of the defenseless and under attack, or that of the capable, even aggressive, and under attack. It is, from a cost-benefit ratio, massively beneficial as far as accumulated stress, to do what one can to feel capable in defending oneself. The mind of someone with HPPD will perceive vastly more threats than a normal person due to non-recognition of otherwise harmless stimuli, and thus the feeling of capacity to succeed in some sort of conflict, instilled into the animalistic brain through efforts performed by the conscious, is an effective way to combat these feelings.

These are the techniques I have personally discovered and used. I have not yet looked, but I do not know of a sort of DP/DR specific area or file or post that have the accumulated techniques the community have discovered to combat the effects of these symptoms. I hope everyone posts their own techniques in response to this, of whatever scope, doesn't matter if it sounds silly or not (I liked to look at tree-lines when I had bad HPPD, for example), and to compile this into one file that everyone can use. I think it would be enormously beneficial to have a refined, distilled, singular post or file of these techniques, rather than the scattered information we usually have that are spread out among many posts. Once I get substantial feedback, I will write as refined and edited and distilled a collection of this material as I can. I will post them and we as the community can decide what needs to be edited, revised, changed, improved. Hope you are all doing well.

Sincerely,

HBB

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Really interesting dude, and logic. I read several times at derealization community the tip of "winner mindset" and some people get over the disorder practice meditation, etc.

Maybe ours brains are overstimulated of information and running low.

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