Dr. Ryback has just described the many psychological symptoms that accompany an individual’s traumatic response to rape.
She also alluded to the vast body of scientific literature documenting those findings.
There is another, more recent scientific literature that has emerged in the past 5 to 10 years that now allows us to understand the biological underpinnings of the symptoms that Dr. Ryback has described.
My goal, for the next 15 minutes, is to provide you with a mini-course on this new neurobiological science.
The bottom line of this 15-minute presentation is this: The rape victim’s traumatic reactions and symptoms are grounded in physiological and anatomical changes in the brain.
The cast of characters:
This is a very, very schematic diagram of the principal brain structures I’ll be talking about. Please don’t take this as an accurate rendering of what’s inside your skull.
The cortex: the location of our higher cognitive and integrative functioning.
The Sensory Cortex: the switching station where all incoming sensory information is first analyzed and then directed onward for further processing.
The Amygdala: A more ancient part of our brain, one that was essentially identical 100 million years ago when we were all mammals, not yet thinking about becoming the apes we are today.