This article, Child abuse changes the brain, describes what is claimed to be the first use of “functional brain imaging” (probably fMRI) on children who have suffered abuse. It pertains to FIML practice in that it gives us some idea of how a neurosis (or stress response) looks in the brain through modern imaging technology. This technology gives us pretty good physical data compared to the behavioral/descriptive sort of data that has traditionally been used to diagnose cases like this.
This study shows that abused children, when compared to “normal” children, do have different physical reactions within their brains when exposed to photos of angry people. Very significantly, the brain scans also show that the abused children do not show any signs of having damaged brains. The physical architecture of their brains is the same as control subjects; it is just the way their brains respond that is different.
I would speculate that many/most neuroses (or kleshas or “mistaken interpretations” as we have been defining neurosis) are similar to what has been found in the children in this study. That is, our neuroses do cause our brains to act/react differently than those without our particular “mistaken interpretation”, but they do not, generally, indicate actual brain damage or physical alteration of the brain.
Thus, FIML practice can be seen as an intervention into the neurotic reaction in the first moments it begins to occur. Rather than allow a full-blown neurotic reaction to cascade through the mind, FIML practice stops the avalanche before it begins. The mind itself is convinced that the avalanche can and should be stopped because it can see for itself that the expression (or words) it was beginning to react to did not mean what it had thought it meant. If this same neurotic reaction is stopped several times during FIML practice, it will lose its hold on the person because it will have been replaced by better data (the description by the FIML partner of what they actually were thinking or meant).