A little known fact on how Pavlov discovered this:
"Pavlov became interested in studying reflexes when he saw that the dogs drooled without the proper stimulus. Although no food was in sight, their saliva still dribbled. It turned out that the dogs were reacting to lab coats. Every time the dogs were served food, the person who served the food was wearing a lab coat."
Quoted from: http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/pavlov/readmore.html
He designed the bell experiment after noting this connection.
I've had a TREMENDOUS discovery relating to my own body and my own recovery from CSA / trauma. All these years I thought there was something wrong with ME, my SELF, my EGO, my PSYCHOLOGY. I felt like I was fundamentally BROKEN.
After meeting with my trauma therapist for the last 6 months, I think I am now comprehending the SIMPLICITY of what I have been experiencing.
Like pavlov's dog, my own body has developed its own trigger / response mechanism. It has nothing to do with my psychology or what I'm thinking. My own body has its own system of signal / response. And just like pavlov's dogs, my body has learned to associate certain signals with certain responses.
CSA did that to my BODY.
My personal crisis and emotional turmoil has been my identifying with the thoughts and feelings and saying "There's something wrong with ME!" What a horrendous conclusion to come to, and creates all sorts of mayhem and additional trauma to work through.
There's nothing wrong with my mind or my psychology. I've matured and sought recovery and answers for my quandry - why I was suffering so much through life. I have been seeking therapy for years, have been in support groups, seeking refuge in 12 step programs, and constantly searching, searching, searching.
This is the sign of a very healthy psychology, a determined person utilizing his intellect and emotions to try and resolve the issue.
And here I am looking at who/what I am. I am an animal with self awareness and incredible creativity with a capacity to learn and adapt and change and grow and create.
It is simple (and very difficult). I am triggered (via PTSD) because my body (just like pavlov's dogs) is responding to stimuli. I have to accept that my body responds this way, and that this doesn't reflect on my value as a thoughtful, insightful, inquisitive, curious, growing, learning human being. It is just my body response.
I'm in a totally new phase of my recovery now. I inhabit an animal body which is conditioned to respond in certain ways. And I also know that there are ways to train the body to relax in these situations. And since I have a human brain at my command, I can learn and grow and adapt and change and create the solutions that work for me.
I'm not simply an animal stuck in a body without a way to uncondition myself. I'm not a dog that will be forever salivating while looking at a lab coat. Dog's are victims of this conditioning, because unless someone untrains their conditioning, they will forever salivate at the sight of a lab coat. Because I'm self aware and because I'm aware that my body responds the way it does, and because I'm intelligent enough to see this and learn new things by researching and experimenting, I can train my own body away from these conditioned responses. I'M NOT A VICTIM!!
What a stupendous realization to have!