A Closer Look

There are two other elements which are to be considered in each stress cycle. The first element is called the"lull stage" (figure 4A).

The lull stage circle

The lull stage is the inaction time or inaction period between the stress response and the expulsion. The lull stage is where the brain considers the action it will take in order to move from an uncomfortable state back to a peaceful state. In the case of a sneeze, the brain might consider the following choices as part of its action to expel:

  • Reaching for a tissue paper to sneeze into.
  • Covering the nose.
  • Holding the nose to repress the sneeze.
  • Sneezing without a tissue paper.
  • Sneezing with or without food in the mouth.
  • Sneezing without covering the nose.
  • Sneezing into the sleeve.
  • Sneezing into a friend's sleeve.
  • Sneezing loudly or softly.
  • Dramatizing the sneeze.

The action of sneezing may have many factors for consideration. The lull stage is where the decision making process goes into gear in order to choose the action (expulsion) needed for the occasion.

The lull stage is also where the stress cycle may be "blocked." When a cycle is blocked, it cannot complete itself as naturally as if it were not blocked. Another name for a blocked cycle is called a "double bind" (figure 4).

The lull stage chart

A double bind is where conflicting choices of action fight for position in the decision making process. As an example, a person may need to sneeze; and the need to sneeze occurs during a busy church ceremony. If the person has a lot of shame around sneezing in church, they will experience a double bind. The double bind will be:

The need to sneeze (Factor 1)
fighting with,
The shame around sneezing in church (Factor 2)
These two factors (in the decision making process) will fight for position and cause a temporary double bind.

There are many types of double binds which cause a cycle to become blocked. Examples:

The need to sneeze in public


The shame experienced in sneezing in public

The need to sneeze


A blocked or plugged nostril

The need to cry


The shame experienced in crying

The need to fart


The shame experienced in farting

The need to laugh out loud


The shame of laughing out loud

The need to urinate


The unavailability of a toilet

The need to expel anger


The fear of expelling anger

The need to scratch an itch


The inability to reach an itch

The need to grieve


The lack of knowledge on how to grieve


The list of double binds is endless and always changing. The list of double binds is unique to each person. The double binds for one person are not going to be the same as the double binds for another person. Each person will experience a double bind in their own way.


The following is list of double binds which I find myself needing to re-inform myself of on occasion. I call these my "Chaotic Control Binds" or binds that hurt when I'm in.

  • Trying to gain approval from someone who is playing the victim.*
  • Trying to control the opinion that another person has of me.*
  • Trying to change the behavior of another person.*
  • Trying to gain approval from someone who doesn't like me.*
  • Trying to force myself to like someone I don't like.*
  • Trying to like something I hate doing.*
  • Trying to be unafraid of something I'm afraid to do.*
  • Trying to be unafraid of someone that I'm afraid of.*
  • Trying to be un-nervous in a situation that I'm nervous in.*
  • Trying to be cheerful in a situation that I'm feeling sad about.*

* My feelings versus my denial of my feelings.
* My feelings versus the feelings of another person.

The second element which needs to be considered in a stress cycle is called an "Expulsion Inhibitor" (figure 5).

Expulsion Inhibitor

A double bind blocks a cycle from completion before expulsion, where as an expulsion inhibitor blocks a cycle from completion after expulsion. Expulsion inhibitors are factors which:

  • Prevent complete resolution of a cycle.
  • And/ or create a Complex cycle.

When the resolution of the stress cycle back to a peaceful state is interrupted by an expulsion inhibitor, it may or may not create a complex cycle (figure 6).


Peaceful state is interrupted by an expulsion inhibitor



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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 15). A Closer Look, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Last Updated: April 26, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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