Do responses to emotional stimuli become reflexive? Ex: Can repeated abuse cause a reflex emotional reaction?

This question is in followup to a question I posted a few days ago:;_ylt=Aowa9... in which Batman suggests that "...[a] movement is done so often that its memory is stored in the reflex arc itself and the body may or may not need to consult the brain before carrying out the movement on external stimulus."

Could/does abuse cause reflex emotional reactions in a person? Is this what happens in post traumatic stress syndrome? Please explain.

If emotional responses in PTSS are reflex reactions, can these reflex reactions be retrained? To replace negative [reflex] reactions with positive ones?


I believe emotional response is usually reflexive. And I believe that repeated abuse does cause an adverse [reflex] emotional reaction. I just don't know if this is fact, and I don't know how to substantiate what I believe. I appreciate the responses of anyone who would like to contribute to this discussion with either personal experience or documentation to support your thoughts. Thank you.

Update 2:

In the same way, can emotional stimuli cause a reflex physical response?

4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Yes..!! Ofcourse repeated abuse causes reflex emotional reactions..

    PTSS is a consequence of exposure to highly traumatic events..PTSS may be experienced after any traumatic experience, or series of experiences..which do not allow the patient to forget the feeling of stress..It is believed that of those exposed to traumatic conditions between 5% and 80% will develop these kind of reflexes as you said..

    Childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, including prolonged or extreme neglect etc...can trigger this kind of condition.Certain life threatning things also cause this(these may include sexual assault or rape,serious accidents,torture etc..)

    for most people experiancing this,the emotional effects try to subside after few,there may be a possibility to replace these negetive reactions with positive ones.

    h-s-mom, emotional response may be due to secretions from adrenal gland..and yes..they are reflexive..

    Batman,"may or may not need to consult the brain "??? there are voluntary actions and involuntary actions..but all need the brain..!

    hope this helps..

    Source(s): A small talk with my neurologist and i did a small do visit this link..
  • Fishie
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Im not aware of the scientific background. But here are some examples from real life.

    Scenario 1 : Positive Reflex Action

    I used to always tickle my wife when we got married, and the tickles were unexpected and stealy. So whenever I go beside her and raise my hand she gets defensive towards my hand "Expecting a tickle from me"!!! Even though I havent tickled her like that for a long time now!!!

    Scenario 2: Negative Reflex Action

    I have a close friend who has endured enough stress in personal life and when I got little angry on one instance the response was curt, sharp, insensitive and hurtfull. I could not imagine that person being all that because I havent seen that person like that! I could only co-relate to the similar experience in personal life made this person to react in the same way.

    I confirmed my observation when this person came back to me and apologised profusely for that behaviour!!

    Hope this helps.


  • 1 decade ago

    In the 1980's my husband and I were both stationed in Germany. During that time American military personnel were targets for terrorists. Because we had been condition to respond a certain way whenever we heard an explosion, our behavior took on a strange sort of "normalcy". It was routine to be suspicious of unattended packages and look for devices under our cars before approaching them. During a performance of the "1812 Overture" when the cannons sounded and we both headed for the floor, reflexively. Does that help?

  • 1 decade ago

    Just same as the response to the external stimuli is reflexive, it should not be different with the emotional stimuli

    Source(s): Brain
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