4.8 Neuronal Gating
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Video TranscriptOne of the things that makes it very hard to heal this subconscious inadequacy, I mean, when we look at the fears and feelings that caused this fetish, they are emotional problems, they’re to do with our emotional memories. You can’t think your way out of this, you can’t analyze and, and dissect and learn and all of this stuff, which, quite ironically, is what this course has been focused on. And that’s why I put in this section because this is an emotional problem. Okay. And one of the things that makes that very hard to fix is a process called neuronal gating or synaptic gating. Essentially, the way that it works is this, imagine that our brain is actually three separate parts. And this is a way of kind of visualizing or conceptualizing how the brain evolved in these three separate parts. So it started right at the bottom with the reptilian or visceral brain, which is responsible for our very basic instincts, or habits or basic drives. And then there’s the limbic system, the emotional brain, okay, that’s responsible for our social functioning, for our emotions, for our social awareness for our kind of sense of how other people are feeling for just all those kinds of things. And then, right at the top of the last thing to evolve was the neocortex, which is all about thinking and analyzing and, and learning and knowing and processing, conceptualizing all these kinds of things. Now, when there’s a lot of pain in the limbic system, the emotional brain, okay, one of the things that can happen is that the brain kind of shuts the gate to the neocortex. Okay. And obviously, we don’t have actual gates in our brain. This is just a way of visualizing it. Basically, we have neurons, those are the fibers that pass the information. And the neurons can either facilitate communication or they can inhibit it, they can either allow it to go through or they can stop it. Okay. And in cases of extreme pain, or neuroscientists called Ronald melt, sack discovered, that actually, what the neurons would do is they would stop that pain from traveling, I think I heard about a case of a person who got shot. And the first thing that made them realize that they got shots, was when they looked down and saw blood and felt the wetness of the blood, they didn’t actually feel the pain of getting shot. Because what happens is, like I just said, the neurons can stop this pain from passing because of course, if it does pass, it’s just so overwhelming that we can’t function. Now subconscious inadequacy is one of the most painful things that you can possibly feel. And so the idea is that the limbic system basically shuts the gates to the neocortex, so that these signals cannot pass through. Like, hold on like this. Okay? See the closed gates between the neocortex and the limbic system. What that means is that we become very, very logical, very rational, we think a lot, we process a lot, we’re very intellectual, or very kind of obsessed with understanding and learning and thinking and all these sort of things, but not feeling, okay. The all our emotional function is blocked from ever actually becoming real, we can’t use that part of our brain, really, we get very bad with emotions, very bad, with social functioning very bad with all these things that the limbic system is responsible for. Okay? Now, obviously, this is a simplification. But that’s kind of the way that this, this works. That’s all you need to know about this. We just get bad with emotional and social functioning. And, of course, when it comes to healing this the way that you heal, subconscious inadequacy, all these fears and these feelings as you let them out. Okay, you have to let it all out. And you have to experience exactly what you’re afraid of experiencing, which in this case, is the idea of being imperfect. Obviously, that’s an incredibly painful thing to imagine that you’re imperfect. But if you can actually confront this, let this out kind of experience this pain of being imperfect, imperfect. You learn that actually, it’s okay. It’s not actually that scary. It’s fine. It’s normal. Really, they use this in Alcoholics Anonymous. In fact, quite famously, the first step of the 12 step program, which is a program that’s aimed at healing subconscious inadequacy and toxic shame. The first step is to admit that you are an alcoholic. In this case of Alcoholics Anonymous. They The first step is by saying my name is whatever and I am an alcoholic. And what this does is it confronts their deepest fears. They admit that they are powerless to alcohol they admit that they are imperfect And then they are no longer trying to be perfect. They’re no longer trying to control they’ve embraced it, they’ve stopped trying to justify their actions or to create excuses or to block it out. And they have nothing left to lose. And thus they have nothing left to fear. By feeling the pain that they’re trying to avoid, they free themselves from the menacing grasp of all the actions that they do to deal with the pain. They embrace it, and by doing so they find freedom from it. And of course, by continually living their lives in that humbled state where they admit imperfection, their brain starts to realize that they’re fine, that there’s nothing wrong with being imperfect and that it’s completely irrational, to have that paralyzing fear. And then they just no longer feel that fear anymore. They no longer feel the paralyzing doubts of inadequacy, and it goes away and it’s completely fine. And you do that by basically confronting these emotional storms from the past, okay? Are you extraordinarily logical, rational, analytical and critical? Do you learn dissect, think and explain, but hardly ever feel? These are the signs and symptoms that that Okay, are you a robot, that’s another one, these are the signs and symptoms that you may have some sort of level of neuronal gating, it’s not binary, it’s not on or off, it’s not open or closed, it’s sort of a level of openness and closeness. So some people can be more closed off than others. And don’t think that it’s, you know, either open or closed. Okay, it’s gradual scale. But a lot of people do say to me, they, they joke about being autistic, or they joke about, you know, wondering if they’re actually a sociopath or something. And because those things are, are kind of the way that that well, what happens when you’re autistic or when you’re a sociopath is that you don’t have this social or emotional ability. It’s an emotional ineptitude, you have this emotional repression because of this neuronal gating, okay. And of course, the disconnection from our emotions leads to so many problems, but particularly, it makes it hard to get your needs met, particularly your social needs. And if you have that, then you can never really heal this subconscious inadequacy that way, either. Okay, a lack of empathy for others, you struggle to put yourself in other people’s shoes. So anyway, one of the things that happens is ego defenses, which is ways to make sure that we never have to open the gate, there are ways that we develop of sort of ways of acting that we develop, which prevent us from ever having to confront this pain, they protect our ego from ever being hurt, okay, we can retrospectively justify our actions to ourselves. This may take the form of disconnection from ourselves. That is an ego defense. In fact, we’ve spoken a lot about ego defenses in this course, which is not called them ego defenses, or it may take the form of something else such as intellectualization. Okay, rationalizing, explaining away minimization, justification, essentially thinking, not feeling being in your head a lot. All of these things stop us from ever having to feel this pain stop us from ever having to open the gate. And if we want to heal the subconscious inadequacy, we have to open the gate. So how do we do that? We open the gate by firstly letting go of our ego defenses, so Stopping, stopping thinking, really, and then actively allowing ourselves to feel we delve into our emotional memories and allow ourselves to feel those emotions without our thinking brain, the neocortex getting in the way of that. So you would sit down with your eyes closed. And out of all the places that we’ve looked in this course all the suggestions that I’ve made for the areas in which you may have some sort of emotional pain, whether it’s cultural inadequacy, or whether it’s something from childhood or development or whatever. Hopefully, by now you’ve been able to analyze your life analyze your own individual problems, because it is it is different for everyone. Hopefully, you’ve been able to think about where you might need to look for this pain. The only thing left to do is delve into it and explore it and lead out. So you actively allow yourself to relive these memories or, or go into these emotions and you just let them out. Okay, grieving is healing. Basically, by experiencing the fears that you’re you’re most afraid of. You learn that actually, there’s nothing wrong with them. And it’s, it’s completely fine. You learn that, you know, like I just said about imperfection. The fear of imperfection is completely irrational because everyone is imperfect. Okay? And by experiencing these things, you learn that it’s not nearly as scary as you feel it is But most importantly, though, apart from healing them, healing all these fears by by letting them go. And by letting out the unresolved emotional energy, and apart from connecting with your social and emotional needs, because that’s what happens when you open this gates, you become more aware of your social and emotional needs and you can get them met and then you can stop using these coping mechanisms like this fetish or like ego defenses or control and release behaviors which will serve to make subconscious adequacy worse, and you can actually get your needs met and heal it that way. But most importantly, by opening yourself to these emotions, you open yourself to them in porn. Next time you view porn of this fetish, you will feel the painful aspects over the arousing ones because you’ll be more sensitive to these emotions. And you’ll be pretty much repulsed instead of turned on. When you open this neuronal gates to your emotions, you are far more aware of the pain contained within this fetish. And you understand why most people find it repulsive. You feel it. And every time you view porn, from then on, it just seems horrible and abusive, and cruel and you become sensitive to that feeling. Okay? You get here by allowing yourself to grieve your past experiences, your pent up pain, your irrational fears. So you do that by sitting down without distractions and consciously allowing yourself to feel those emotions without your thinking brain getting in the way with rational excuses and obstacles like that. You let go of any thoughts and you allow yourself to feel
Disconnection from your feelings is a way to cope with toxic shame. Some people have repressed all their emotions to such an extent that they feel nothing. They become hyper-rational robots as a way to cope. Unfortunately, this leads to bad consequences, particularly a lack of empathy for others which leads to poor social skills and a lack of meaningful friendships. This is a guaranteed way to make subconscious inadequacy far worse! The disconnection from their own emotions is a source of many psychological problems.
Other people make claims like ‘I don’t get angry’ or ‘I don’t get sad’ and some people are always angry or always sad.
Emotional repression is extremely common in men, and I hear from many men who believe they’re borderline autistic because of their emotional ineptitude. They feel like sociopaths at times, (or ‘antisocial personality disorder’, as it’s technically called – and this has been found to correlate with fetishes). Cutting off emotions is another side-effect of toxic shame; not just through social conditioning, but through the brain’s way of dealing with childhood pain.
One way of conceptualizing how this works is by thinking of the brain in two separate parts: a rational thinking brain (the neocortex), and an emotional brain (the amygdala and limbic system). The neocortex is responsible for thinking, analyzing, reasoning, and processing, and the limbic system is responsible for emotions, senses, memories, and fears.
A process known as ‘neuronal gating’ acts as an adaptive biological response for inhibiting pain. The interconnecting fibers between the two separate brain systems can either facilitate or inhibit communication. Inhibiting the communication – neuronal gating – is essentially shutting a gate between the two brains, so the information doesn’t pass. The signals from the limbic system containing the information of emotional life are blocked from entering the neocortex and being consciously recognized.
When the emotional pain in the limbic system is overwhelming, an automatic mechanism closes the gate so that it can’t get to the neocortex. The neocortex takes over, and our life becomes dominated by rationalizing, thinking, analyzing, explaining, dissecting, learning, but never feeling.
Once this gate is closed, we block out our emotional past so that the neocortex can function unhindered. However, these emotional imprints don’t go away. They stay there as unresolved emotional energy, subtly affecting your life for years to come.
Ego defenses act to keep the gate from opening; they stop us from feeling any pain and to retrospectively justify our actions to ourselves. This may take the form of disconnection from ourselves, or something else which makes healing incredible hard, such as intellectualization.
How do we open the gate? We do this by letting go of ego defenses – anything that prevents us from feeling – and actively trying to feel. Opening the neuronal gate means allowing yourself to feel the pain of your past trauma. You do this by consciously letting yourself feel. Instead of thinking and rationalizing, you empty your mind, and let the emotions flow through. Grieving is healing, and the way to get rid of these unconscious emotions is to let them out. Not doing so in a rational, analytical way, but rather by opening the gate and letting them flood through.
One of the most successful treatments for phobias is ‘exposure therapy’. In this treatment, the patient is exposed to their phobia in very small steps, starting out by simply imagining their phobia (spiders, for example) until they can do so comfortably, then getting a little closer to their phobia but only if they can do so without fear (like knowing there’s a spider in the next room), then taking another step closer (being in the same room as the spider, but far away), then closer (unless they feel fear, where they should take a step back to where they were comfortable and build back up), then closer, until eventually they are directly confronting their phobia in a situation where they are calm and collected. By doing so, they remove their mental association between the phobia and feeling scared, and essentially remove their phobia.
A similar concept is used for toxic shame and fetishes. The best way out is through; to confront those painful concepts until they no longer cause pain. In the 12-step program – one of the leading treatments for addictions which also serves to heal toxic shame and fetishes – the participant is first humbled by admitting they are addicted and powerless. This is popularized by the customs of alcoholics anonymous, who open their meetings by stating ‘My name is x, and I am an alcoholic’. This serves to break down the ego defenses and confront their deepest fears.
By admitting powerlessness, they have nothing left to fear. They are no longer trying to uphold false standards or maintain a false image. They are no longer trying to control and be perfect. They have stopped trying to justify their actions and create excuses. They embrace healthy, human shame, and admit that they are imperfect. They are humbled to the core, and this means they have nothing left to lose, and thus nothing left to fear. By feeling the pain they’re trying to avoid, they free themselves from the menacing grasp of all actions they do to deal with the pain. They embrace it, and by doing so, they find freedom from it.
For toxic shame, this means admitting you’re imperfect and never will be perfect. It means admitting you’re flawed, like every other human.
By living their lives in that humbled state, they learn that actually, there’s nothing painful about it. Their fears about not being good enough and being imperfect are completely irrational. They start to break down their associations between imperfection/inadequacy and pain. After spending some time like this, they no longer feel that fear. They no longer feel the paralyzing doubts of inadequacy.
If you can do this too, you will also no longer feel the emotional pain and fears of inadequacy. Admitting imperfections and human limits is confronting the problem and learning that nothing changes. This is particularly important in the social realm; become comfortable showing your flaws to others in a normal, healthy way.
Confronting the painful feelings and fears head-on is how to remove your arousal to this fetish. Once you’ve investigated your life analytically, all that’s left is to let these feelings out, emotionally. Allowing yourself to grieve those emotions makes you feel the full force of them.
This does two things: first, it heals them by letting them go. Finally, the unresolved emotional energy can be let out, and resolved. Second, by opening yourself to these emotions, you open yourself to them in porn. Next time you view cuckold porn, you’ll feel the painful aspects over the arousing ones, and be repulsed instead of turned on. When you open the neuronal gate to your emotions, you’re more sensitive to the pain contained within this fetish, and understand why most people find it repulsive. Every time you view cuckold porn from then on, it seems horrible, abusive, and cruel – and you feel that.
You can only get here by allowing yourself to grieve your past experiences and pent-up pain. You do this by sitting down without distractions, and consciously allowing yourself to feel those emotions without your thinking brain getting in the way with rational excuses and obstacles. Let go of any thoughts, and allow yourself to feel. Using your insights from the previous videos as a guide, explore your past experiences on an emotional level. Let those emotions out.
Author(s) || Connor McGonigal
Website || howtostopbeingacuckold.com
Article || 4.8 Neuronal Gating
Date || June 2nd, 2019
contributors: ["Connor McGonigal"]