The “Tales from the Amygdala” Project

Today marks the formal beginning of a new video project here at The Monkey Mind Chronicles. It’s a project I’m calling “Tales from the Amygdala,” after the putative seat of fear in the human brain. (Alternative title: The “It Might Not Get Better” Project. But I’d like to stay optimistic.)

The idea is to post an original video — every Monday, if possible — from people who have struggled or are still struggling with anxiety and panic. The videos should be on the short side, two-to-four minutes or so, and the guiding prompt is simple: What makes you anxious? If you have an anxiety-horror-show story (you know, like the time you were so nervous you vomited on your history professor) please tell that. If not, then just say what anxiety means to you personally. What role has it played in your life? How have you coped? How would you define your relationship with your anxiety?

Today we have a great video submitted by the standup comic and writer Jason Good, whose hilarious and original blog I commend to everyone. And now, without further ado, enjoy basking in Jason’s insanity:

Please submit links to all videos (uploaded to Youtube, Vimeo, etc.) to dansmonkeymind@gmail.com. And here’s another great video, from the standup comic and soldier Benari Poulten.

2 Responses to The “Tales from the Amygdala” Project

  1. Rebecca Kendall says:

    Thanks, Dan. I just read your piece in the Times which led me to your site. Thanks for talking/writing about this. It’s nice (in a sort of twisted way) to see how many of us are out there.

    I’ve been suffering with an anxiety disorder for most of my life but didn’t have my first full-blown panic attack until I was 21 (in 1984). By 1990 they were happening multiple times a day. I’ve tried all kinds of recovery methods over the years and while (as you know) there is no quick fix or “one size fits all” magic bullet, I just want to give a shout out to doing EMDR with my therapist in 1998. (EMDR is a “hypnotic” treatment commonly used for post traumatic stress disorder.) I had tremendous results. I still suffer from anxiety but it has gone from living at a red-alert 10 24/7 to a barely registrable 1-2 on most days.

    Thanks again for going public and I look forward to reading your book.

    Best,
    Rebecca
    New York, NY

  2. Anneke says:

    Dan, I have not read your book yet, but will. (I came upon your website just this morning via your recent NYT article, which I enjoyed.) This comment is a response to Jason Good’s “insanity”, as you, Dan, call it. Jason Good, in his video, described his great anxiety upon biting into a meatball and not being able to decide whether it was hot or cold, and explains the basis of his anxiety: he worried that perhaps his brain was filled with tumors that were cutting off blood supply from that part of the brain which makes these sorts of decisions! Now, I can identify with Jason Good, for I have been afflicted by this kind of anxiety. But I will go so far as to say this: Jason’s fear that he may have brain tumors could be well-founded, and not as far-fetched as he might like. I say it because I happen to be someone who, in addition to being occasionally anxious in a hypochondriacal way, was also very unexpectedly (for I appear and act very normal, aside from those anxiety issues) diagnosed with a large slow-growing tumor at a relatively young age. (An optometrist, not a doctor, noticed very slight swelling in an optic disc and said she might, on the off-chance, recommend an MRI, but that probably there was nothing to worry about…) I had a lovely “I told you so” feeling–directed at my poor parents, mostly–after the tumor was discovered, and that tumor has served me well ever since diagnosis as an excuse for just about all of my problems. Unfortunately, though, I still suffer from just the kind of panic attacks that Jason so well described in his video: the (now justified) worry that my brain is not interpreting the world–what others name “reality”–correctly. Yet accompanying this worry, strangely, thankfully, is a kind of insight that most “normal” people only think they know what reality is. Our brains very much create the world we see and know (or rather, “see” and “know”). And if that is so – ? To some extent, we may all be living in a collective delusion. Perhaps life is a hall of mirrors, and those who seem to have a grip on life are fooling themselves. Take heart, Jason – your anxiety may have some rational basis to it… : )

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