Background

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.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Anxiety: Root Of OCD, Paranoia, Panic Attacks

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the nature of anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and paranoia. He explains that anxiety is not fear, but rather a reaction to catastrophizing and counterfactual narratives. People with anxiety disorders may prefer to be anxious because it is familiar and provides a sense of control. Paranoia is described as a combination of anxiety and grandiosity. The paradoxical nature of anxiety leads individuals to trigger it in order to alleviate it, creating an addictive cycle.


Abuse Victim's Body: Effects of Abuse and Its Aftermath

Abuse and torture have long-lasting and frequently irreversible effects on the victim's body, including panic attacks, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, flashbacks, intrusive memories, and suicidal ideation. Victims experience psychosomatic or real bodily symptoms, some of them induced by the secretion of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Victims are affected by abuse in a variety of ways, including PTSD, which can develop in the wake of verbal and emotional abuse, in the aftermath of drawn-out traumatic situations such as domestic divorce.


How Mentally Ill Cope With Anxiety

Anxiety is an irrational fear that can be exogenic (from the outside) or endogenic (from internal processes). Mentally ill people cope with anxiety in five ways: externalizing anxiety via aggression, conflating external and internal objects, reframing reality and impairing reality testing, reciprocal inhibition, and dissociation. These coping mechanisms can be seen in various personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder, where dissociation is used to avoid unbearable anxiety. It is important to consult a licensed therapist or psychologist if any of these coping mechanisms are identified in oneself.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Victims and Survivors of Abuse

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is typically associated with the aftermath of physical and sexual abuse in both children and adults. However, PTSD can also develop in the wake of verbal and emotional abuse, providing it is acute and prolonged, and in the aftermath of drawn-out traumatic situations such as a nasty divorce. The diagnostic and statistical manual criteria for diagnosing PTSD are far too restrictive, and hopefully, the text will be adopted to reflect this. PTSD can take a long time to appear and lasts more than one month, usually much longer.


Shyness or Narcissism? Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, and a lack of self-confidence. People with this disorder are shy and socially inhibited, and even constructive criticism is perceived as rejection. They avoid situations that require interpersonal contact and find it difficult to establish intimate relationships. The disorder affects 0.5 to 1% of the general population and is often co-diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders, dependent and borderline personality disorders, and cluster A personality disorders.


Effects of Abuse on Victims and Survivors

Repeated abuse has long-lasting and traumatic effects on victims, including panic attacks, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, flashbacks, intrusive memories, suicidal ideation, and psychosomatic symptoms. Victims experience shame, depression, anxiety, embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, abandonment, and an enhanced sense of vulnerability. The severity of the stress may influence how the victim experiences and responds to it. Victims stalked by ex-lovers may experience additional guilt and lower self-esteem for perceived poor judgment in their relationship choices.


How Borderlines Abuse Themselves ( DBT)

The lecture discusses the victimization of borderline patients, focusing on their self-destructive behaviors and internal struggles. It delves into the concepts of inhibited grieving, unrelenting crisis, active passivity, apparent competence, emotional vulnerability, and self-invalidation in the context of borderline personality disorder. The speaker emphasizes the intense emotional experiences and the difficulty in regulating emotions that borderlines face, leading to self-criticism and self-victimization. The lecture also touches on the potential transition from the self-state of a borderline to that of a psychopath.


Signs of SWITCHING in Narcissists and Borderlines (Read PINNED comment)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the phenomenon of switching in dissociative identity disorder, borderline personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. He explains that switching is a common regulatory mechanism in these disorders and is triggered by stress, anxiety, and environmental cues. Vaknin describes the signs of switching, including emotional dysregulation, changes in body posture, and dramatic shifts in identity and behavior. He also emphasizes the impact of switching on relationships and the need for partners to adapt to the changing identities of individuals with these disorders.


Ironic Rebound in Narcissism, Borderline, Psychopathy

Ironic process theory, introduced by psychologist Daniel Wegner, suggests that the more we try to suppress certain thoughts, the more likely they are to surface. This theory is relevant to narcissism, borderline personality disorder, and psychopathy, as these individuals attempt to suppress thoughts that threaten their inner balance. In abusive relationships, the abuser and the victim both engage in ironic processes, amplifying and magnifying each other's troubling thoughts. This cycle of abuse can lead to severe long-term mental damage.


New Light on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in DSM-5-TR and ICD-11

Psychology is currently in turmoil with new diagnostic texts, definitions, and clinical insights. The DSM-5 text revision and the ICD-11 both offer new approaches to understanding borderline personality disorder (BPD). The distinction between complex trauma and BPD is blurry, and some scholars argue that various personality disorders, including narcissistic and borderline, should be considered post-traumatic conditions. The ICD-11 has moved towards a dimensional approach, focusing on aspects like identity, empathy, and antagonism, suggesting that all personality disorders may be part of a single underlying clinical entity.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy