Preventing Stress-Driven Violent Antisocial Behavior

Frederick Travis, Ph.D.


When functioning optimally, the frontal areas of the brain integrate outer experience with inner thoughts and feelings to create our reality. Under stress, these frontal areas shut down. The brain’s survival networks take over, and we become overwhelmed by immediate problems, losing sight of the big picture.

These same frontal areas are responsible for our higher human faculties—decision-making, planning, judgment, and moral reasoning. Under stress, these higher faculties shut down, leading to short-sided, impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior.

Transcending during Transcendental Meditation practice turns on the frontal executive areas. Blood flow increases to these areas, while the survival networks become more quiescent.

In addition, brain wave coherence increases in the front of the brain: which means that the frontal executive circuits are working together so that one one sees the bigger picture. This is why transcending leads to substantial reductions in Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Greater integration of the brain means the person can control their impulses.

Transcending also leads to substantial reductions in Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).  Extreme trauma turns on the survival network in the brain permanently, leading to PTS symptoms. The deep restful alertness gained during TM practice turns off these PTS symptoms.

This is why prisoners who practice TM practice do not return to jail after they are released.  They are more alert, more rested, and not driven by stress. And why children in low-income families do better at school on standardized tests, and why they graduate from high school and go on to higher education.

In conclusion, the Transcendental Meditation practice is a powerful technique to improve brain functioning. As our brain more functions optimally, we can deal more effectively with stress and utilize substantially more of our enormous brain potential.

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