When Dragons Breathe Fire on Your Emotional Brain

Dragons from the Past

By Daniel G. Amen, MD

Are you feeling anxious, hopeless, traumatized, angry, insignificant, or grief-stricken? Do you feel like there’s no way out of the emotional anguish that has haunted you for years or even decades? You may have “Dragons from the Past” running wild in your brain. And they could be stealing your happiness.


Since the beginning of time, we have communicated with each other through stories. They help us understand our place in the world and teach us how to act or not act. They shape our perceptions and pass down knowledge and morals. Personal stories guide and direct our lives. How we interpret our experiences is one of the major driving forces behind happiness or depression, exhilaration or disappointment, rage, or peace.

I call the stories that interfere with our lives “Dragons from the Past.”

It’s a concept I learned from my friend Dr. Sharon May, a world-renowned psychologist. These inner dragons are still breathing fire on our amygdala (the almond-shaped structure on the inside of your temporal lobes involved in emotional reactions), driving anxiety, anger, irrational behavior, and automatic negative reactions.

Unless you recognize and tame your inner “Dragons from the Past,” they will haunt your unconscious mind and drive emotional pain for the rest of your life.

Unless you recognize and tame your inner “Dragons from the Past,” they will haunt your unconscious mind and drive emotional pain for the rest of your life. Click To Tweet


Over time I identified 13 Dragons from the Past, including their origins, triggers that make them overpowering, and how they cause us to react. In my new book, Your Brain Is Always Listening, I introduce you to all 13 dragons from the past, including the Anxious Dragons, Wounded Dragons, Hopeless and Helpless Dragons, and Ancestral Dragons (my favorites).

When I teach my patients how to identify their inner dragons, they start to recognize what’s fueling their fears, emotional pain, and unhealthy behaviors. Knowing which dragons are driving your actions and emotions is the first step to taming them.


If your inner dragons have taken control of your brain and are driving anxiety, depression, and other problems, take heart. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can learn to tame your dragons and transform your life, so you can feel happier, more positive, and more in control of your own emotions. When you tame your dragons, you can break bad habits, stop self-defeating thinking patterns, and shore up your ability to cope with uncertainty.

In fact, taming your dragons is essential for emotional well-being and good mental health. To help you do it, I’ve taken the most effective dragon-taming strategies—the same science-backed ones I use with my patients—and put them in my new book, Your Brain Is Always Listening.

In this book, I’ll show you the simple yet powerful steps to stop letting your Dragons from the Past breathe fire on your brain and start taming them so you can overcome past emotional hurts and live the life you want.

Your Brain Is Always Listening is written by psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and New York Times bestselling author Daniel G. Amen, MD. In this book, Dr. Amen equips you with powerful weapons to battle the inner dragons that are breathing fire on your brain, driving unhealthy behaviors, and robbing you of your joy and contentment. Order your copy here.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of Amen Clinics patients who have already tamed their dragons and overcome their symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma, and more, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. I really enjoy dr Amen work on mental health. I usually able to use it in group discussions.

    Comment by Evelyn Rosario — January 20, 2021 @ 5:29 AM

  2. My son, Brock Gambrell had a TBI playing football in 1998 – when TBI and sport were not talked about in the same discussion. We visited Amen Clinics in Atlanta, GA and Brock did have a SPECT scan. It did, indeed identify and “show us” the areas of his brain that were hurt and affected. Brock has come a very long way and has been working very hard – on his own (supported by us – his parents) for a very long time. He has been battling his inner dragons for many years. I would love for Brock to meet Dr. Amen. There is SO MUCH that he would love to discuss. If that would be possible, please reach out.

    Comment by Malette Gambrell — January 20, 2021 @ 11:47 AM

  3. I read some of Dr. Amens books from the library. I would love to meet him, but I’m sure I can’t afford the treatment that I need.

    Comment by SHARON D Debolt — January 20, 2021 @ 4:21 PM

  4. Brain tumor removed 8 yrs ago…Best Medicine~Full Time Caretaker 94 yr old Father last 7.5 yrs…HELPING OTHERS ~ ELDERS GIVE YOU SUCH CONFIDENCE~Enjoy Their Wisdom & Doing Everything Slow~No Stress~
    Many Blessings!

    Comment by Gayle Hebert — January 25, 2021 @ 1:04 AM

  5. Wow, are you publishing with Dr. Sharon May? I see that she introduced you to the concept of dragons in your podcast with her last December. I have heard Dr. Sharon May speak on the concept of dragons for years now and am so excited that the two of you are going to work together on this. She has the podcast with Amen Clinics posted on her website, Safe Haven Relationship Center.

    Comment by Terra Hart — February 1, 2021 @ 3:33 PM

  6. Where do I take the test to know my dragons

    Comment by Kathleen — February 3, 2021 @ 5:19 AM

  7. I would like to purchase book

    Comment by Christina Gazzola — February 3, 2021 @ 6:14 AM

  8. Hello Kathleen, here is a link to Dr. Amen’s Know Your Dragons Quiz: https://knowyourdragons.com/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 3, 2021 @ 8:27 AM

  9. Hello Christina, thank you for your interest in Dr. Amen’s new book! Here’s a link to pre-order the book and claim your free gifts: https://yourbrainisalwayslistening.com/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 3, 2021 @ 8:28 AM

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