Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Brain Fear

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on April 1, 2010

Jessica, twenty-two, recovering drug addict, history of multiple near-death experiences due to her prior drug use, comes in and says “so, have you seen The Matrix?” I say “no, and I know that disappoints you and it makes you feel like I don’t care about you.” She replies “no, it does not matter.” In a monotone she continues “my mom is having an affair; she left my dad, my dad is devastated. My single sister is pregnant.” I say, “your tone suggests that these are matter of fact events, but the content feels to me like these things could generate a lot of feelings. I think you are afraid of your brain; you are afraid to feel those feelings. ” I think about Avoidance Boy,, although with Jessica she is talking about emotionally laden issues, but she is avoiding the feeling aspects.

“Yep” she replies. “I am afraid of my brain.” “That is why you used substances for all those years” I responded. “Yep” she says again. “I can understand why your brain is a scary place. Since you have not wrestled with your feelings for a very long time, the uncertainty of what those feelings might be like is overwhelming.” “Yep”she says a third time. “So, what am I supposed to do?” she asks. I said “let’s return to you asking me if I saw The Matrix. In your mind that question, that first question that you asked me today, showed me that you were trying to reestablish a connection with me. You were hoping that we had common ground. You were hoping that you would feel cared about. Perhaps this suggest that you are searching for those feelings.” “Well, maybe” she says with a monotone. “Is it possible that I care even though I did not see The Matrix?” I ask. “Nope” she quips. We both laugh.

Like all fear, the fear of one’s feelings, of one’s brain,  is an uncomfortable place to be. We go ahead with baby steps; gently looking at the fear, moving slowly towards it. Humor helps. A good bond helps. Seeing the Matrix would help too.

3 Responses to “Brain Fear”

  1. Shelly said

    Is the use of drugs, tranquilizers, cigarettes, alcohol, and prescription drugs all associated with attempting not to feel the pain of life? Who of us all is not afraid of the emotions associated with living? Are you saying that people should face these fears, one step at a time? What happens when one examines the fears and finds them overwhelming, still?

  2. Monotone said

    Yes, seeing the Matrix would help 😉

    • Shirah Vollmer said

      Shelly…I am saying that coping with the fear is the challenge. Facing the fear is another story. Hopefully the coping is healthy, and not harmful to body or sould.


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