“Well-functioning fear circuitry in resilient individuals, for example, might prevent over-generalization of fear responses to different contexts,” explains Dr. Feder. “This will only be clarified by studying individuals who have themselves survived an assault or a serious motor vehicle accident with few sustained symptoms.”
Another example involves reward circuit function. We now know from Fredrickson’s studies of positive emotion that the capacity to experience positive emotions in stressful contexts contributes to decreased autonomic reactivity.
“Positive emotions have also been linked to reward system function,” states Dr. Feder, “and brain imaging studies of reward circuitry function in resilient individuals are the next step.”
From: "Psychiatry Weekly: Psychosocial and Neural Correlates of Resilience."
Trying to describe the difference in a person's fear response after a traumatic injury is, ah, challenging to say the least.
Looks like the good news is you may not *need* to experience a traumatic event to work out the fear-circuitry; instead, you may be able to practice exuding positive emotions during tough times to teach your autonomic nervous system to 'chill out' when threatened.
The power of positive thinking. Hmm. Maybe I'll take another look at that glass-half-full worldview...