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Philosophy & Psychology

Brexit Remainers and Anti-Trumpists suffer an amygdala hijack!

So rather than spin stories about impending catastrophes, try to live more with what’s actually happening, and less with what might happen.” Here’s Your Brain’s New User Manual For Uncertain Times 


Prior to the UK referendum on EU membership, as a psychologist I wrote on my Facebook page about the cognitive dissonance affecting the whole of the electorate who were used to voting on tribal lines, often fixed and unwavering. There was very little rational discussion with most comments being tribal too. After the referendum I closed my page down; the abuse I took now being berated as a fascist racist misogynistic homophobe was utterly …….. believable!
Now I write again from a psychology viewpoint about an effect described by Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane which I am applying to those whose emotions are running high and are anti Brexit and anti Trump. If you want to argue with the psychology then go ahead, intellectually I will take you on. But abuse on here will only reinforce the points of Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane. The academic article quoted above needs practical interpretation and application from applied psychologists, so let’s have a go!

This anxiety puts us in a heightened state of stress. Pumped with more adrenaline and cortisol, our entire brains essentially get hijacked by a single region of it, the AMYGDALA.

The expression “amygdala hijack” was first used in Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence and can refer to the emotional reactions in response to perceived threats. The amygdala acts like a hair trigger in emotional outbursts, and once the emotional system gets hold of something ……. it never lets go ……….. without therapy! This is especially the case if the emotional response is out of kilter with the ACTUAL stimulus or threat. The article referred to in this post takes the amygdala hijiack theory a stage further and relates it to a number of controversial issues in the world of politics today where many reactions and protests are emotional responses to perceived rather than real threats. Here are several interesting paragraphs from the full article:

Even if you’ve kept only one eye on the headlines lately and the other tightly clenched, you’re probably aware that these are, shall we say, some pretty uncertain times. But what you may not be aware of is that human beings, thanks to much earlier times, far back in our evolutionary history, aren’t built to deal with uncertainty all that well for all that long.

We often tell ourselves stories, and they often make us feel worse, not better. We lay out a future of terrible things and then live in that future, even though none of the anticipated things have happened before and may never happen in actuality—it’s a natural reaction. That doesn’t mean they won’t, of course. Sometimes, there really is a lion behind that shrub. Other times, it’s just our lurking, disembodied worry that there might be.


So what we have is Remainers in the UK and anti-Trumpers in the US who are acting in an irrational and emotional way to non justifiable fears, gross assumptions, exaggerations often of non existent issue and opinions they twist into facts. Brexit Remainers say that leaving the EU will cause this or that, controlling immigration will cause the NHS to collapse, not continuing in the single market will lead to an exodus of industry and corporations; then we have the likes of Tim Fallon, Tony Blair, Richard Branson, Nicola Sturgeon, Gary Lineker, and all of the EU commissioners who seem to have had a total brain-hijack and live in a fantasy world in which the referendum never took place or that parliament recently voted AGAINST triggering Article 50 as they plot, set up anti-Brexit organisations, and generally act in an undemocratic and totalitarian manner. Their ability to “talk down” our country seems to know no bounds!
Finally, let’s return to the original quote from the article as follows:
“So rather than spin stories about impending catastrophes, try to live more with what’s actually happening, and less with what might.” In a nutshell, take back control of your amygdala and get-a-life!

Here’s Your Brain’s New User Manual For Uncertain Times



12 thoughts on “Brexit Remainers and Anti-Trumpists suffer an amygdala hijack!

  1. “a psychologist I wrote on my Facebook page…”

    I applaud you for even trying on Facebook. That’s become a completely toxic environment for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Major Styles | February 15, 2017, 01:48
  2. “History instructs us that current events can quickly lead us to long term global tyranny and disaster when ignoring the glaring and blinking signals”. I agreed with your quote, you are right. A concrete example of it is the Kalergi Plan being currently acted out in Europe, it is happening, it is the here and now. It is not an assumed plan or a possible plan, it is not an “unknown future” it is an ACTUAL plan and strategy. There is no shrieking over what might be done, it is BEING done. This is the difference.


    Posted by Dr B | February 14, 2017, 18:01
  3. Your own observations about the groupthink and tribalism in terms of age and gender have certainly been reported post referendum. However my own experience was different, but maybe that’s because my wife and I move within a single age group! Our Labour friends tended to favour Remain, but not all. Conservative friends tended towards Leave, but again not all. Pub level conversations though showed the dissonance with single party traditional voters arguing over the merits of Leave v Remain. In a way this is a good thing because there is a debate about issues rather than characters or personalities. The problem though was all of the anxiety it was causing.


    Posted by Dr B | February 14, 2017, 17:54
    • Deep down my tribal instincts are Old Labour. Here is my synopsis on the referendum; something I wrote two days after it and which with hindsight is probably a bit too optimistic:


      I was inspired by watching that video of Peter Shore, which is why I embedded it. The students referred to were Warwick Uni ones in Leamington.

      Liked by 1 person

      Posted by dissent angle | February 14, 2017, 18:03
      • That is one hell of a post you wrote on the 25th June, exceptionally well balanced and comprehensive too. I do not disagree with any of it.
        Not too long ago we worked and engaged in entirely professional circles too but now we socialise in single age group mostly (retired) but the widest range of education and careers. This is probably why our experience is naturally different from your own. The interesting thing though is that everyone in the pub accepts the result, hopes for the best, and despises those who have plotted to overturn or delay. Thank you for sharing your post from that day.

        Liked by 1 person

        Posted by Dr B | February 14, 2017, 18:18
  4. What I noticed about the referendum was the prevalence of Groupthink, largely fuelled by the blogosphere, with people voting according to demographic group largely based on age and gender. So voting patterns were still tribal but not on traditional party political lines which themselves have been gradually breaking down for quite some time. I fell into the Groupthink trap myself and unwittingly perpetuated it via my old blog, writing more posts on the subject of ‘Brexit’ than I had ever intended; and participating in others who were like-minded on the issue, but with whom I probably wouldn’t agree with on a great deal else.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by dissent angle | February 14, 2017, 17:43
  5. History instructs us that current events can quickly lead us to long term global tyranny and disaster when ignoring the glaring and blinking signals.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Kurt Brindley | February 14, 2017, 16:23
    • Agree entirely, the tyranny of the Cultural Marxists applied in Europe is a case in point and we should not ignore the warning signals. These fascists are being led covertly by the Kalergi Plan we cannot ignore as they seek to destroy our culture.


      Posted by Dr B | February 14, 2017, 16:51
      • Why am I not surprised when searching “Kalergi Plan” that the first site in the results is to “info”wars.com. Consequently, this discussion has gone sideways fast and will probably only end badly based upon your combative remarks in your post; so, unless you want to further it on, for which I’d happily oblige, I’ll take my leave now. See ya later, “Dr.”

        Liked by 1 person

        Posted by Kurt Brindley | February 14, 2017, 17:18
        • The Kalergi Plan is a strategy for the eradication of European Culture and can be downloaded as a PDF. The man who wrote it and something about it can be found in many websites, including Wikipedia. One of the recipients of the annual Kalergi prize was Angela Merkel and I’m not sure but either Claude Junker or Von Rumpy have been recipients too. The existence of such a document is horrifying, as horrifying as Mein Kampf was at the time. It was also ignored until it was too late.


          Posted by Dr B | February 14, 2017, 17:29
        • For now I’ll take you and Alex Jones for your words re: “the plan.” But what is your point re: “the plan” IRT your post which seems to be IRT the crazy left prematurely freaking out over the unknowable future?

          Are you saying it’s okay for the Alt-Right to prematurely freak out over “the plan?” but not for the wacky liberals to freak out over Trump channeling Hitler?


          Posted by Kurt Brindley | February 14, 2017, 17:43


  1. Pingback: Liar, liar brain’s on fire! | Tales of Mindful Travel - July 10, 2017

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