Hypervigilance and Intuition as Forms of Anxiety

Uploaded 8/7/2022, approx. 9 minute read

Anxiety is a hydra. It shapeshifts. It is insidious. It invades every cell of the psyche.

Anxiety is like slow acting poison permeating every membrane, every defense, every behavior, every cognition and every emotion, causes cognitive distortions, such as catastrophizing. And it leads inexorably to comorbidities or dual diagnosis such as depression.

Anxious people have a constricted life. They are trying to avoid the triggers of anxiety and in doing so, they are limiting themselves to lives which are more and more narrow, less and less lived.

And this of course brings on depression and worse.

Anxiety is closely associated with multiple mental health dysfunctions. For example, hypersexuality, anxiety reduces the sex drive, the libido to the point of vanishing. Anxiety is also closely associated with psychopathy.

Yes, most psychopaths are anxious. Look it up on my channel. There are two videos at least dedicated to correcting the misconception that psychopaths are not anxious and are fearless.

And so anxiety is really, really bad for you. And I said that it shapeshifts. So for example, phenomena which don't look at all like anxiety are anxiety. Examples, buckling, intuition, hypervigilance.

And this is today's topic. Intuition and hypervigilance as examples, as forms of anxiety.

My name is Sandvagnin, as you might have guessed by now, and I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited. I'm also a professor of psychology to the detriment of my poor students, who are all without a single exception, anxious, anxious, hypervigilant and trying desperately to use their intuition to understand the mad professor who is teaching them.

All right, Shoshanim, let's delve right in.

Anxiety, as I said, is when you feel unpleasant for no discernible, clear and good reason. You can't put your finger on anything. You can't pinpoint a threat out there. You do feel menaced. You do feel there is an ominous feeling, but you don't know why. And you can't explain and communicate it to other people.

Clinically, anxiety is a form of compounded or complex emotion. But it derives from a cognitive distortion or even cognitive deficit known as catastrophizing. Anticipatory anxiety, which is a variant, a very common variant of anxiety, is built on catastrophizing. You anticipate the worst. You imagine bad things that are going to happen.

Some people defend against catastrophizing by developing compulsions and obsessions, hence obsessive compulsive disorder. Others defend against catastrophizing by developing a state of internal arousal, like they are preparing themselves. The muscles are tense. The heart is beating, pumping more blood. And you are wide awake and alert, expecting bad, horrible things to happen and ready for the fight.

This state of hyperarousal is another name for anxiety. And it's easy to see that someone is anxious. He's nervous. He's pacing back and forth. He has somatic complaints. He is ruminating. She is twitching ticks.

I mean, anxiety is easily discernible and anxiety is infectious. As organisms, we are built to communicate to each other an imminent looming threat. Anxiety is perceived by everyone around the anxious person as a warning sign, as an alert, as an alarm.

And so people around the anxious person tend to become anxious as well. It's contagious. It's as if they were saying, he must know something that we don't know, because otherwise, why is he anxious? Why is he uneasy? Why is he worried?

But they don't realize that all these, the worry, the unease, the catastrophizing, are diffuse. They are not focused. They are an overreaction to a situation that is usually totally imaginary.

All these phenomena, the muscular tension, the restlessness, the fatigue, the breathlessness, the tightness in the abdominal region, the nausea, problems in concentration, sudden crime, all these have to do more with an internal scenario that is unfolding in the mind, rather than with anything external.

Anxiety resembles fear, but it is not fear. Fear is rational. It's a reaction to a real threat, immediate or perceived. It's a flight of fight response.

And anxiety involves dread. Kierkegaard wrote about it at length. Anxiety involves dread. Fear doesn't involve dread. Fear mobilizes anxiety, paralyzes.

People with fear usually try to construct defenses or tackle the source of the fear somehow. People with anxiety usually withdraw and isolate themselves and become, as I said, totally paralyzed.

And so there are multiple forms of anxiety disorder, as I open the opening of the video.

And we need to look around us at human behaviors and human choices and human traits and so on, and realize that many, many of them have to do with anxiety.

Consider for example, gut feeling. Gut feeling is immediate, but it's nebulous. If I were to ask you to verbalize and analyze your gut feeling, you would have a problem. Very few people can do that. Actually, no one can do that.

Gut feeling has exactly this. It's something that takes place in the gut rather than in the brain.

And so gut feeling is an anxiety reaction. Even intuition is an anxiety reaction. It takes longer than gut feeling to form. It feels more precise, more incisive, more certain, more analytical, but actually it's not.

Intuition similar to gut feeling is very, very fuzzy. It cannot be pinned down. It cannot be properly algorithmically analyzed. In this sense, it's an anxiety reaction.

Both gut feelings and intuition, exactly like anxiety, feed on bodily inputs. Both of them somehow interact with the body and derive information from the body, which is crucial for the formation of gut feelings and intuitions.

The sensa, the sensory inputs are only one part of it. Autonomous reactions such as heartbeat or perspiration also figure into the equation and the formation of gut feelings and intuitions exactly as they do in anxiety.

People with an elevated heart rate would tend to become anxious trying to explain to themselves why their hearts are beating faster. As we try to make sense of these corporeal data, we often come up with a heuristic or some kind of narrative. And most of the time we perceive the outcomes of these attempts as gut feelings or intuitions.

So there's a body-mind axis in play, which is very common in all types of anxiety reactions. And exactly like in most cases of anxiety, intuition is wrong as often as it is right. It is a shaky foundation for decision-making. But it is a reliable signal that further research and investigation are called for.

I've made another video on this channel where I'm telling you, where I told you that when you come across a narcissist and the psychopath, very often you're going to have a very strong, overwhelming given gut feeling or intuition that something is wrong.

Stop, disengage, study the issue, investigate it further, be careful, exercise caution.

Intuitions should not be confused with either emotions or cognitions. Intuitions are amalgams of both. In other words, intuitions contain emotions and cognitions, exactly like any other type of anxiety.

But intuitions are a form of anxiety that has to do with hypervigilance. I will discuss it in a minute.

We should listen to gut feelings and we should listen to intuitions. They're telling us that something has gone awry with the way that we perceive reality.

And this alert bears careful investigation and research, of course. But I would not act on my intuition or gut feeling unless and until I have delved deeper into what it is that is nagging at me.

Intuitions and gut feelings are a poor guide in the sense that they're not good at telling you what to do instantly. But intuitions and gut feelings direct you to invest some effort in trying to reach this certainty of action.

Because as I said, as often a lot, intuitions and gut feelings turn out to have been wrong.

They involve catastrophizing. And some intuitions are even delusional.

But in some of the cases, about half the cases actually, they do signal that you're misperceiving reality, that there's a lurking something. It doesn't have to be danger. But something is out there. Something is out there. And you need to find out what.

Now, when intuition and gut feelings, intuitions and gut feelings are recurrent, repetitive, frequent, etc., we have a condition called hypervigilance. It's when we inaccurately filter sensory information, when we are in a state of enhanced sensory sensitivity. It's kind of a dysregulation of the nervous system, if you wish. And it's very common after trauma or within post-traumatic stress disorder.

And so these stress signals, they trigger defense mechanisms and also involve catastrophizing, dangers perceived, which are real or imagined.

And so hypervigilance is a state of chronic dysregulation, chronic release of stress signals and signaling molecules and hormones and disproportionate inappropriate reactions to this constant signaling, a reaction known as anxiety.

And sometimes intuition and sometimes gut feeling. And thisof courseis very exhausting. This abnormally increased arousal, a high responsiveness to stimuli, a constant scanning of the environment for imminent or imminent catastrophes, imminent calamities. There's a perpetual scanning because the hypervigilant person tries desperately to extract information from sights, sounds, smells, people, behaviors, locations, any piece of information, any type of activity, any because hypervigilant person has learned to connect, to associate, change, evolution, environmental cues with trauma and with threats.

This kind of individual is on high alert because he believes unconsciously that danger is always near and always imminent. He acts obsessively in clinical terms.

Hypervigilance is not the same as a flashback or in clinical terms, reviviveness or dysphoric hyperarousal. It's not the same as a flashback.

In hypervigilance, the person remains cogent and aware of the surroundings. He doesn't lose touch with reality.

In dysphoric hyperarousal, in true flashback, there's a loss of contact with reality and a total re-experiencing of the traumatic event.

So there's a big difference between the two.

Hypervigilance is a symptom of PTSD and other forms of anxiety disorders, but it's not the same as paranoia. It's not the same as schizophrenia, etc.

People with hypervigilance simply scan the environment all the time for possible threats or in the case of narcissists for possible insults or narcissistic injuries. They overreact and they overreact to various triggers could be, I don't know, loud noise or they have, in other words, what we call startled responses.

They have a difficult time to regulate various processes such as, for example, going to sleep. So they often suffer from insomnia.

And in many people, this condition, this state of hypervigilance can last decades, absolutely decades, and they can't tolerate their environment anymore and they withdraw. Theyavoidant and they are very, very depleted and exhausted.

Intuition and gut feeling, when they become the template or the foundation for decision-making, always lead to hypervigilance.

And in any case, all these phenomena are interconnected because they all involve catastrophizing in the old forms of anxiety.

I hope this lecture hasn't made you too anxious and you have not become hypervigilant with my videos.

Dear students, see you later. And that's not a promise. That's a threat and you can safely catastrophize on it.

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