I’ve read that people with a visual memory sometimes become anxious due to seeing scary, dangerous and traumatic images in their mind’s eye. Where does anxiety come from for aphantasiacs other than from traumatic events?

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on March 23, 2021

What Pearson’s study found was that aphantasics experienced significantly diminished fear responses while reading frightful narrative, such as “the giant fin protruding from the surface of the choppy seas turned toward the kayak and beneath it a giant shadowy mass could be seen quickly approaching”. This type of narrative invokes imagery in most readers, leading the researchers to conclude visual stimuli plays a critical role in emotions.
That said, anxiety and fear can still be induced even if you don’t see something, in real life or within your mind, representing that fear. For me anxiety is often when I get hyper-fixated on a task or concern to the point of overstimulation and rather than allowing myself to decompress, go for a walk, and sit in quiet for a few minutes, I start mindlessly distracting myself with Youtube, food, or other tasks, while my mind is still pestering me about that important. But when I do take of my headphones, leave my phone at my house, get my blood pumping, and sit with my self for a few minutes, I often come to a resolution of what I am going to do moving forward and my emotions are quelled.
It’s important to know that we experience both physical anxiety and mental anxiety, and the former often induces the latter. Physical anxiety are things such as shallow breath, elevated heart rate, narrowed gaze, hunched shoulders. If you train yourself to recognize these things you can create the habit of taking deep breaths, rolling back your shoulders, and looking into the distance (rather than at something close to you) or even just allowing your vision to blur by relaxing your eyes. All of these are signals to the brain saying “we aren’t in danger, you can relax”.
Alternatively, lateral eye-movements, making your eyes dart from side to side, triggers a pulse of dopamine, suppressing your amygdala (the cortical region responsible for fear).
Could you share one of the most common activities you experience anxiety during? What do you typically do in response?

It can be a specific mix of emotions, being in or imagining a similar context/situation to a traumatic event.