In the fairy tale “The Three Little Pigs”, each little brother prepares for the winter season, which is the season when play and carefreeness end. The laziest one decides to build a straw hut, which “will be ready in a day!”. The second pig, less lazy than the other, goes in search of well-seasoned wooden planks and, with strong hammers, builds a wooden house. The third little pig says that “it takes time, patience and a lot of work to build something that can withstand the wind, rain and snow, but above all that can protect it from the wolf”. While he was working, his brothers went to visit him and laughed, “Why do you work so hard? Don’t you want to come and play?”.

 

WHAT DOES ANXIETY HAVE TO DO WITH THE THREE LITTLE PIGS?

We ask the psychologist in Florence Ilaria Sarmiento.

In this case, the third little pig is probably the most anxious, but it is also what saves him from the wolf. Fear and the recognition of danger have enabled humans to survive since they lived in caves. The amygdala and hippocampus, the areas of the brain that regulate the anxiety response, are in fact very primitive brain regions. The response to fear can take two routes. A short, automatic pathway and a long pathway. Only the latter asks for help from the prefrontal cortex. It is only with the long pathway that we can, therefore, be conscious of the stimulus and give it meaning.

 

To date, no theory on the origin of anxiety disorders is exhaustive and therefore there may be different strategies and therapies to deal with it. 

If one deals with the problem as the first piglet, one can take symptomatic drugs such as benzodiazepines which have an immediate but time-limited effect. These drugs are able to quickly eliminate the symptoms (accelerated heartbeat and muscle tension), but these reappear as soon as the drug molecule is no longer present in the body.

 

The second piglet does not trust something as temporary as a straw house, and undertakes behavioural psychotherapy, which has proved its worth for anxiety disorders in numerous studies, but just as many studies have found that unfortunately its effects are temporary (e.g. for a review, Shedler, 2010). Of course, they will last longer than the straw house, but when the wind is stronger, the anxiety symptoms will also collapse the wooden house built by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

 

The third little pig knows that in order to build a solid structure that is resistant to different events, it is necessary to take more time, to work on the foundations of the house, to give solidity to the whole structure. It is impossible to do all this in a short time. The house of the third little pig can be built through psychoanalytic therapy. It is more laborious, more time consuming, but it allows one to re-build a solid house from its foundations.

 

Whatever strategy one decides to follow, the important thing is to choose one and be aware of its limits.d description for your Article from here.