Friday, August 24, 2007

Are meltdowns a fight or flight response?

Subtitle: The Meltdown Mechanism.

After seeing a granddaughter thru the terrible twos, and now in the grownup fours, and currently seeing my grandson thru the not so terrible twos, not to mention some of my workplace experiences, I've got some experience with meltdowns. For a child the meltdown comes in a flash, gone in a flash, triggered by trivia to our minds but catastrophe to theirs. As they learn the ways of the world, these incidents usually diminish, perhaps due to the realization that there is a scale to incidents, and if a full response is invoked by a lesser incident, they have nothing left to show the impact of a larger incident.

Since this is common to all children, maybe it's just a developmental change in brain chemistry: the first sign of the fight or flee triggering enzyme, and the young brain is shocked into instant response.

What about those adults who have difficulty scaling responses? Some succeed - you only have to listen to talk radio to know it, but what about the rest? The ones we see in the workplace with a broken volume control, either off or on to the max. How do they learn the team building skills that require listening and negotiating? How do they succeed in the workplace when an appropriate response is called for? How do they manage to maintain relationships outside of work? Again, is this body chemistry? Sticking © 2009 in here to foil blog bandits.

For the bi-polar or depressed personality, medication can be literally lifesaving. Should there be a med for the venting personality or would this throttle the superachievers, those so far ahead of the crowd that they have little understanding or tolerance for lesser beings? Are they like those bi-polar individuals whose creativity is bound to their illness?

I'm all questions today. If it truly is an overwhelming burst of brain signals saying fight or flight, are they doomed to a Type A death from heart disease? Is there a strategy for lowering their risk? Are the primitive response pathways in the brain fixed and immutable or can they grow new neurons?

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