posted on Sep, 4 2004 @ 02:34 PM
I'm sure most people have had experiences where they have felt in danger, and time as they percieved it seemed to slow down (things happen in
extreme slow motion) or the opposite and things seem to speed up. What causes this effect? Is there a scientific explanation for this? Does it relate
to the increased levels of adrenalin or some other chemical which allows us to react faster therefore making it seem like time has slowed, or our own
panic & confusion which makes time seem to have dramatically sped up?.
You can thank your brain's limbic system for the "fight or flight" reflex. It is a natural stress reaction- it can occur for no reason at all
(this is called a panic attack) or it can occur as a result of a real perceived threat. Some people can even have this occur as a response to dreams
(very frightening when you wake up in the middle of one, but a normal response).
Essentially upon processing a potential threat to the human body, your brain's limbic system signals the body to prepare for defense. There are
associated cognitive, physiological, and behavioral changes. Heart rate increases as your blood vessels constrict (your heart starts to race while
the majority of your blood is diverted to the brain and muscles). People often become pale by this point. At the same time, your rate of respiration
increases and your breathing becomes more shallow (you take fewer deep breaths). This is very important because the brain requires oxygen to function
and process properly. You begin to sweat as your body prepares to cool you down during the run or during the fight.
While all of this is going on, your body is releasing a host of chemicals to provide that extra energy that it thinks you need. This is what alot of
people describe as "the rush". Catecholamines, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and glucocorticoids (Cortisol) are all released from the adrenal glands
as well as parts of the brain. The pupils become dilated (they expand) as the brain is attempting to process as much information as possible. Blood
sugar levels rise as the brain signals the muscles to react. You're either going to run or fight, and you are as prepared as you possibly can be by
So many things are happening that your perception is altered. Remember, your body has primed you to focus COMPLETELY on the moment. This is so
different than the way we are used to functioning every day, so it feels extra strange when it actually happens. Certain types of meditation actually
enable one to achieve this state of mindfulness of the immediate moment WITHOUT the associated physical changes (it is difficult to do at first, but
everyone can do it). Anyways, this rapid flood of chemicals, combined with the rapid onset of changes in your body will cause you to perceive time
When there is no threat that is actually occuring, many people interpret the reflex & associated change in perception as "I'm going to die, I'm
going to have a heart attack or lose control, or pass out". The important thing to do when feeling this onset of symptoms (in the absence of a REAL
threat) is to keep your breathing EVEN. Take nice deep breaths and reduce the number of stimuli in your environment (as your brain is processing more
stimuli it can cause the response to persist for a little while longer).
Hope this helps!
[edit on 4-9-2004 by MKULTRA]