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Man's Search for Meaning III
December 23, 1999
8:31 am
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Cici
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Hi...

Although i admit to having archaic hardware, the thread was taking too long for impatient me to load up.

eve...How can I qualify something so excessively nebulous? Sometimes I think that the workings of the human mind are far beyond my capacity to comprehend, especially when it somes to trigggers, as Tez alked about, and emotional responses. Metacognition, right? Thinking about thinking?

Granted, in some ways, emotional barter is probably used because it is SO effcient! No muss, no fuss. Capitalism is so straightforward. The problem, I suppose, comes from a personal reaction to being taken as commerce.

December 23, 1999
11:50 am
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All,

man's search for meaning III. Phew! Let's keep going.
And best wishes for the holydays to all. Have some merry days!
Eve

December 23, 1999
11:53 am
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Cici,
yes. Thinking about thinking is exactly what I’m trying to do. And thinking about feeling. Because I prefer a theory to a belief.
Definitions: A theory (according to Popper, I think) is something that describes a set of rules, able to explain certain things. So far that is also true for a belief. The difference between both is that a theory can never be proven, but it can be falsified, while a belief does not leave any opportunities for falsifikation (so you’re stuck with it, like it or not). And while the aim of a belief is to be „eternal and true“ the aim of a theory is to be useful and to help make a better theory in the next round of cognition.

And a whole lot of everyday things that look so horrible when you take them as beliefs, can prove to be extremely useful when you use them as theories: helpful but they have to go when something better comes along, or they stay but only for certain situations. E.g. I was stuck with the belief that I’m one who a lot of people can always rely on. As a belief that is horrible, because every time I felt weak I had a small (?!) crisis, because my inner self was shaken. Now, as a theory I can live very well with being a person that others can usually rely on, only it doesn’t have to be always true. And I don’t loose myself when I’m weak or in need of help. And while loosing a belief is something of a crisis and sometimes a point of no return, a theory is nothing you can loose. You either use it when it makes sense, or you don’t depending on the situation. (I don’t really buy the theory that the earth is flat, but all the maps that I normally use are flat.). Make more sense? Eve

December 23, 1999
1:04 pm
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eve
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Tez, wellcome back.
I remember my detours into that land of red rage only too well. But I haven’t been there so often since teenage times (once with 24 and once last year with 33). I somehow managed when I got older (and wiser?) not to let all of me be drawn inside that maelstom, but to let one part of myself blow it completely and express that feeling, while another (stronger?) part is there watching out for damage I might do to myself or others, ready to intervene. I don’t think I can tell you how I did that, though. What I wrote to Cici about theories and beliefs was part of it, I think.

As a child or teenager I had quite often screaming fits as a reaction to something that I found threatening my "self" (ego?). Most times it was directed towards a family member, most often my grandma. There was no physical or sexual abuse, maybe not any abuse at all, she was just suggesting that I should be like that and feel like this (manipulative). So there was this conflict of: < > on one side and the fear of < < when I don’t do it, I will loose her love, but I’m entitled to it>> on the other side. What helped me greatly with my grandmother was that we sorted out that none of us two would ever be able to stop loving the other, come what may. And that most of our fights were not about withdrawing love and being aggressive against each other but about strange ideas that had good intentions. When we both started to look for the good intention behind the problem, we often were able to find a solution for both. But from what you write it really seems difficult to find the good intention in your fathers behavior towards you. Can you find it?

And yes, you were wrong about me, when you said „I think that 'transference' of parental images from childhood into your bf is probably why you feel the 'pressure of "how to be"' from him and yet not from your friends.“. He never was my boyfriend, we and some others were sharing a flat as students. In spite of his frequent attempts to persuade me to join any of his beliefs he is one of the few people I’d call a good friend, because he is so very open in trying to „maipulate“ that it is easy for me to react, and he usually will not be sulking, when I don’t „obey“. It’s more like a game, not really affecting what we think of each other. So when I say that I hate what he is trying to persuade me to do I don’t say that I hate him. And he is a brilliant observer who really can give me new ideas, and sometimes put his finger right on the spot of a problem that I can’t pinpoint. But it is somehow complicated. My other good friends are easier. I think that people who I call good friends are ones that I can let stand on their own. And who can do the same with me.
Eve

December 23, 1999
5:15 pm
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Eve and All.
Eve, you said "But from what you write it really seems difficult to find the good intention in your fathers behavior towards you. Can you find it?" No; none. My father has no long or short term contextual memory. His working memory is functioning. It sources input from his sense organs via the audio/visual cortex; His working memory also has full access to his procedural and emotional memory. He behaves a little like an animal that can talk. His language functions and associated memory are intact. My father operates largely from his emotions. His cognitions are severely limited by his lack of memory. He is totally self-centred now as he always was.

My rage wasn't 'red'. I had enough control not to 'thump' an old man. However, My point is that my response was in full reaction BEFORE I had any time to 'think'. Dr LeDoux clearly demonstrated that the time taken for cognition is far, far longer than that of emotional processing. The LeDoux 'short cut' from the sensory cortex to the amygdala ensures that we are aroused well before cognitive processing is complete. Now my arousal was sooooo intense that I 'fired' my mouth before any cognitive processing had taken place. I acted on my emotional processing. It is this phenomena that makes us leap back from a rattler in a split second. We don't have to wait until cognitions work out that it is a rattler. We act on only a 'blind' conditioned leap back response to a dangerous object. (LeDoux 1996) My point is that my fear arousal system was triggered by a childhood perception of a 'very dangerous father' that lingers in my emotional memory banks but not in reality. I verbally 'attacked', in my own 'defense'.

The real value in my experience, and my motive for sharing it, is in explaining why we behave in ways that often mystify us a few minutes later. Inside each of us is definitely at least two people struggling for control;an emotional self (id) and a cognitive self(ego). Which has control depends very much on the level of the perceived threat to our wellbeing, which is a function of our prior emotional memories and their associated remembered stimulus triggers. In this regard, we are not all the same. This is why the Confucian saying, "We should never judge another without first having walked ten miles in his/her shoes" is so appropro. I firmly believe that our interactions are at times also subtly controlled by our emotions in ways that we do not like cognitively. However when the emotions are steering the ship, our cognitions are often relegated to the 'brig' and have little input; or at best are confused and occupied trying to unravel and rationalize our feelings while the ship flounders or makes a run for 'open waters'. 🙂

I think that generally speaking, emotion processing is little understood except by experts in this field like LeDoux et. al. This misunderstanding causes us such heartache; your partner tells you that he/she loves you in one instant and then he/she runs away in another. It seems so irrational and it is. It is emotional memories from the past steering the ship in the present without cognitive insight into the 'why'.

As Frankl says he who knows the 'why' and bear any 'how'. It seems to me that this general misunderstanding of our emotional processes that causes wars and most if not all of our suffering. After all, wars are certainly insane responses to insane triggers. We see wars as we see viruses; things that cannot be avoided. The truth is that we all unknowingly set up the circumstances that unleash the dark emotional memories from the collective 'shadow' that is an integration of the personal 'shadows' within all of us. Control (not by repression) the emotions and we can control the occurrence of wars. If we all were well parented negative emotional memories would be scarce and wars wouldn't happen at all; controlling the emotions would be redundant. If only....

I think that peace is an absence of fear arousal in all its forms; an absence of negative emotional memory recall. It is an emotional memory recall of fulfilment.

May we all 'emotionally' remember the beautiful nurturing feelings that most of us once had at our mother's breast and not the fear of abandonment that may have come later.

Peace, Goodwill and a Merry Xmas to all us 'fruit cakes' in cyberville.

December 23, 1999
11:23 pm
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Blessings to all. Enjoy the holiday.

December 29, 1999
11:45 am
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Tez, what are ‘fruit cakes’ (my dictionary gives me something about an english pie with dried fruit in it?) 🙂

Now, seriously: we seem to have very different experiences emotionwise. When I say „red“ rage I mainly mean the colour that appears behind my closed eyes, while I stomp my feet or shout, in my experience this „feels like“ I could pysically harm somebody but I never have done so (inhibition?). And when you talk about your father and the reason that you can’t find a „good“ motive for his actions, you state that he is acting on his emotions only. This seems to me like you say that emotions can’t be a „proper“ motive for actions (and not only for fighting, immobilization and suchlike). It is difficult for me to pinpoint and put into words what I think is wrong with that, I'll try. When I talk about emotions I mean not only fear and joy but also a lot of in between things like pride, comfort, uneasiness, affection, greed, cheerfulness, helplessness. To me it seems that often when I say „emotion“ what I mean is: a quality that I attribute to something (to an experience, a situation). And I don’t always (not even often) choose this quality consciously, but I can do so if required (if something leaves me wondering). It is more like a subconscious guide for navigation through every day, much quicker than intellectual processing and - at least for me - often more and sometimes less reliable than „thinking“. And it seems to work quite well. Maybe this is the reason why I assume, that others do the same - but do they? Do you? When it doesn’t work, well, I have learned that it gives better results when I start thinking, because else my emotions seem to gang up on me and I end up in a mess that I created myself. But that is not the rule - it’s the exception.
What is your definition of „emotion“ (not of emotional memory recall)?. And what do you think about my definition (emotions are a quality that is attributed to / associated with experiences)?
I wish you and all the others peace and a happy new year. Eve

December 29, 1999
5:23 pm
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Eve.
A 'fruit cake' ? You haven't heard that expression used in reference to 'nutty' people? I guess it must be an Aussie colloquialism. What do you call people with a 'screw loose', a 'couple of sausages short on the barbeque', 'not the full quid', 'only three sheets in the wind', 'fruit loops', 'not all there'; people who have 'lost their marbles',who are 'ten cents in the dollar',who are 'nut cases', 'bonkers' etc?

Well... a 'fruit cake' is a mixture of lots of 'nuts' and 'fruit loops'. It reminds me of the 'net'. Of course, I definitely include myself in this category. 🙂

Seriously, I have saved your response to disk and will deliberate over it rather than just 'shoot from the hip' - so as to speak. 🙂

See yuh tomorra...

December 30, 1999
2:23 am
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Tez, thanks for your continuing education on aussie colloquialisms. Remember, I'm not a native speaker (writer?) of English, so sometimes I run out of words to express what I mean, and sometimes I don't know words that seem very simple to people who grow up with the language.
And I think that it sometimes is easier for me to write about all this stuff in a foreign language, because I don't have too many "triggers" associated with words. And I have to think while I write! Eve

December 30, 1999
4:01 am
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Tez, it may not be evident from my post, but your post made me laugh and feel good. Interested in your answer.

Kitten, I'm thinking of you and I wish you a smooth transit into the next millenium and a lot of wishes come true as well. 🙂 Eve

December 30, 1999
3:51 pm
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Eve,

Bless you. You are a dear. No wishes will come true for me, I'm afraid. All is lost. I thank you for your gentle kindness. And Tez, I thank you for your avid bantering. Be at peace all. I bid you adieu.

December 30, 1999
7:04 pm
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Eve

Thanks for your response of 30-Dec-99. I am responding more fully to your 29-DEC-99 posting.

My experiences of "red rage" are that with my eyes open I see "red" - not just with them closed. Thankfully I haven’t had that experience for many years now.

You asked, "What is your definition of ‘emotion’?"

As I see it emotions are physiological response states of the body to sensory inputs from our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and touch sensors. Our feelings are our awareness - which take place in our working memory - of these emotions.

I believe that all positive and negative emotions are evolutionally derived survival mechanisms that have enabled a particular species, by both its adaptive and avoidant behaviour, to flourish over the eons of time. Any variant behaviours that were maladaptive resulted in the demise of the individuals. Thus we have our emotional survival drives as we know them today.

However, sometimes emotionally driven behaviour that was highly adaptive a few thousand years ago, - a blink of the eye in evolutionary time - can today be highly destructive.

You asked, "…what do you think about my definition (emotions are a quality that is attributed to / associated with experiences)?"

I am not sure if I am interpreting the meaning of your statement as you intended. In my understanding, ‘emotions’ are purely physical body arousal states. Our ‘feelings’ are our awareness of ‘experiencing’ our emotions. There are emotional states about which we are consciously unaware.

I agree that we do make value judgements on these feelings; i.e. good and bad feelings. The term ‘quality’ implies a value judgement. If by ‘quality’ you mean that ‘feeling good’ is subjectively judged as ‘high quality’ and that ‘feeling bad’ means ‘low quality’, then it seems to me that this is a cognitive assessment of those feelings.

For me, put simply, feeling good about some event is indicative of an emotional belief that the event is promoting our survival chances; whilst ‘feeling bad’ is indicative of an emotional belief about an event to the contrary.

Such emotional beliefs are part of our emotional processing which relies on both innate biological survival drives and past emotional memory input. Whereas intellectual beliefs about the survival value of the same event can at times be very different.

When we have contradictory emotional and intellectual beliefs about an event, what do you think governs which belief (emotional or intellectual) takes precedent in deciding our behaviour?

Happy Y2K all.

December 30, 1999
7:11 pm
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Kitten.

You said, "...No wishes will come true for me, I'm afraid. All is lost." What is happening ....?

And you followed with, "I bid you adieu." Whoaa.... Your not thinking of leaving us permanently are you? I think that I can speak for every one in saying that you would be sorely missed!

Have you talked about what is getting to you in another thread? I must apologise for my lack of attention to other threads if you have.

December 31, 1999
3:45 am
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Kitten, if you have to go, then go in peace. I’d rather hear you again next week, but it’s your decision. Can’t you let some of your wishes die and live on?

What is it about new year and birthdays that triggers this depression? My ex-bf had that, too. He was doing therapy and living quite happily, but every time when something looking roughly like an anniversary came along he just freaked out and ran into depression. And in my younger years I always had my facial herpes at or shortly after christmas, and that is something I only get when I’m under a lot of stress. I actually thought it was an allergy to pineapple, because pineapple was something we only had at christmas. But is was an „allergic“ reaction to chrismas and all the high hopes associated with that days. My best wishes for you again, sorry that I can’t be there for you, but I have to go now, hope to be back next week.

Tez, Cici, see yuh!

January 3, 2000
2:34 pm
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Tez, thanks for your answer.

you say that „emotions are physiological response states of the body to sensory inputs“, I agree. What I meant is that emotions are a quality that comes with each and every sensory input.

I will try to sort out what I meant by quality: my dictionary gives „attribute, characteristic, property“ as other words for what I want to say. Like the colour of a thing is a quality (as opposed to quantity) or a characteristic for that special thing, I wanted to say that (sub)conscious emotion is a quality / characteristic of all experiences. It is something that is not separate, but - at least while we experience it - comes together with the experience. Often it is just a small part of what we experience and sometimes nearly all of an experience is the emotion that comes with it. Like colours, emotions can be multi“coloured“, spotted, bright or dull. And like we can sort things by colour we can sort experiences by emotion or we can focus on other aspects that we find much more important (do you buy your books by colour?). And like some people can be colourblind, or like colours become indistinguishable when it gets dark, I think we can sometimes be emotionblind, or so stuck in one feeling that we don’t notice the other emotions. But UNLIKE colours that are a pysical property of an external thing, emotions are something that is not „physically“ associated with an external situation but this combination of situation and emotion is very often the result of a learning process. For me this combinig of sensory input and emotion is something that happens inside myself, but something that I can’t help and something that I don’t want to abandon (I can recognize the combinations later on, and evaluate them, but this requires an effort of will, cognitive skills, and training). This to me is the reason for a lot of misunderstandings between people: different emotions associated to situations. And while some behaviours can look totally incoherent when you take e.g. what somebody says (analyse somthing on the intellectual level), the same behaviour can make a lot of sense when you try to figure out what emotions somebody experiences / is reacting to.

Example:
One day I electrocuted myself when I unscrewed a broken lightbulb from its socket. This was an experience with a huge emotional content (lifethreatening, fear, shock). Ever since then I am extremely careful when I change light bulbs, but for the first year after the event I really felt afraid „of“ light bulbs, just when I saw them. And intellectually I knew why I felt like this and I knew that light bulbs are normaly fairly unthreating things that don’t come and jump at me! So I laughed, and with time this combination fear/light bulb seemed to dissociate again. But until then I had two occations where I „had to“ go and get somebody to help me with a lightbulb. The people I asked did not really understand why I „couldn’t“ do it myself, and propably found explanations for it that I don’t like („women and technic“ „she is too lazy to do it“, whatever).

I think that when you say that „sometimes emotionally driven behaviour that was highly adaptive a few thousand years ago, - a blink of the eye in evolutionary time - can today be highly destructive“, you get only the first part of the example. It is highly adaptive to react to something that is life-threatening by learning that this thing associated with danger is something to be afraid of. And it could be highly destructive to develop a phobia of lightbulbs, because then I couldn’t go anywhere. But it is this learning process that comes in between that should be the point of focus and control, not the basic emotion of „I wanna live / don’t wanna die“. One reason for this is that your working memory will always end up on the loosing side when it thinks it could try to „control“ this basic emotion.

Your final question was:
When we have contradictory emotional and intellectual beliefs about an event, what do you think governs which belief (emotional or intellectual) takes precedent in deciding our behaviour?
I’ll try to answer this but I’m not certain if I understood the question 🙂
I think we always choose the easier way. Whatever impulse is stronger will succed and decide where we go. So my aim is to get to now my learned emotional responses and to try and be able to roughly figure out other peoples emotional responses. And I try to train my intellect and its responses to sensory input and emotional states. Because emotions and thoughts are strong. And the basic underlying principle of emotion as well as intellect to me is our biological existence. So emotions AND thinking are pysiological responses to sensory input and internal states. And emotional beliefs as well as intellectual beliefs can act as input filters and their „prejudice“ can steer us somewhere we never wanted to go.

Sorry for going on and on and on and on....

January 3, 2000
4:48 pm
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Eve.
Your light bulb changing anecdote was an excellent example of two conflicting beliefs. Your emotional belief (conditioning) resulted in an emotional memory of a fear of lightbulbs. This memory is triggered by the sight of a light bulb. However, your intellectual belief - based on contextual memory of light bulbs - is that they are relatively benign things.

My question was, 'When we have contradictory emotional and intellectual beliefs about an event, what do you think governs which belief (emotional or intellectual) takes precedent in deciding our behaviour?'

It seems to me that within my emotional processing there is a personal 'threshold' against which I compare the perceived threat signals from my sensory inputs. With perceived threats below that threshold, I am able to 'think' about the 'feelings' resulting from my emotional arousal. Above that threshold I spontaneously act to avoid the perceived danger. In my own experiences this threshold is not constant but varies considerably as a complex function of my emotional states. If I am not 'travelling well' the threshold is low and I am easily triggered into an unthinking and often inappropriate emotional response. Alternatively, if I am feeling great that threshold is high and I will tend to deliberate over the nature of a perceived threat that otherwise might have triggered an emotional and destructive out burst.

It is this emotional 'threshold' that interests me greatly. My thoughts are that if I can keep 'it' high then my cognitive beliefs and processing can control my behaviour; this cognitive control almost certainly ensures highly adaptive behaviour from me. This cognitive control is most important in my relationships with others.

Are you aware of this varying emotional 'threshold' within yourself?

January 3, 2000
5:05 pm
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yes! I know this feeling very well, after all I'm a woman and know PMS 🙂

These (but not only these, there are other things contributing to my emotional threshold) are the days when I can be found to react to normal outside input in a way that is highly emotional and sometimes "over the top" of what I would otherwise do. But in my experience I don't act completely out of my "self", just less thoughtful sometimes. But I have learned that sometimes my "thoughtfulness" is something that is not altogether good for me.

What makes you so keen on staying above this emotion threshold? Bad experiences from the times when you didn't? Or "just" an unwillingness to let the emotions "take over"?

January 3, 2000
5:22 pm
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Oh, and Tez: the thing about my light bulb anectode is, that I believe that with people it is "just like that". Only people are like moving targets. They don't stay the way they are :-), and their reactions are much more difficult to predict than light bulbs!

January 4, 2000
6:18 pm
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Eve.
You asked, "What makes you so keen on staying above this emotion threshold? Bad experiences from the times when you didn't? Or "just" an unwillingness to let the emotions "take over"? " Yes to both.

I find that most of the time my biologically evolved emotional responses are inappropriate for modern living. I much prefer to cognitively control them as much as possible as a wise parent controls a child. I find that meditation is an effective tool for raising my emotional threshold. This is not to imply that try to I suppress my feelings. That is not healthy.However, it is just as unhealthy for my threshold to drop to the extent that my emotions 'rule'. Highly inappropriate behaviour often results from such uncontrolled childlike indulgences in 'dummy spitting'. Normally, I acknowledge my awareness of my emotional arousal and use this awareness as a signpost to learning about my emotional memory content and their triggers.

Veryyyyy interesting.....

January 5, 2000
5:46 am
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Tez,
so you "much prefer to cognitively control them (your feelings) as much as possible as a wise parent controls a child." But dosesn't a wise parent also give their children room to run free and find their own way? And controls children not as much as possible but only as much as necessary?

What I mean is: I know that your emotional memories feel like they are set in concrete (so do mine). But when you control all present emotions too tightly you might miss some chances to add new and different emotional memories (you're never too old for that, fortunately we humans don't have an exclusive "sensitive period" for learning, like some animal species have). I agree that you will most likely keep all of your emotional memories, but you can add new ones. Maybe when you wait until you feel reasonably good and safe and then go for adding new, bright emotional memories? Don't try to force it when you feel lowly, because then the chances are high that you won't add new emotional memories but enforce old ones.
How 'bout that? Eve

January 5, 2000
4:02 pm
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Eve.
No, a wise parent endeavours to ensure that the children behave in ways that take into consideration the needs of others as well as their own. That implies cognitions as to what behaviour is likely to hurt the child and others: cognitive control over behaviour not emotional control, where possible. Obviously, when it comes to an actual threat to life and limb such as a snake, emotional control is not only desirable but absolutely automatic and beyond volition.

According to best advice from experts in the field, emotional memories are set in concrete. (LeDoux 1996).

In the short term, I don't think there are any new emotions. There are only new triggers for old evolutionary biological drives in the form of conditioned stimuli SC. What you may mean is a new emotional memory of a new mixture of intensity of arousal of combinations of existing emotional arousal systems, being coupled with old or new triggering stimuli.

I am not endeavouring to suppress feelings; those days are long gone. After all feelings are only awareness of emotional arousal and suppression of feelings only leads to very neurotic and uncontrolled behaviour. What I am endeavouring to do is to nurture my emotional self; therein I am able to keep my fear arousal system trigger 'threshold' high. This enables me to retain cognitive control over my behaviour which also includes the emotional nurturing process. The alternative is to let the fear arousal level build up; the threshold of cognitive control over my behaviour to fall. Next thing is "BOOM". Not very desirable or necessary at all.

There are many ways to keep the inner 'child' happy therein avoiding letting 'it' get to the fear arousal stage where it runs amok. A wise parent would surely concur that this is in everyones' best interests. 'Nurture' is the key here.

I am primarily talking about cognitive control over the fear arousal system here; although lack of cognitive control over the sexual arousal system can be just as troublesome. Who would want their husband/wife or boy/girl friend indulging in 'wander lust' every time he/she felt like it. 🙂 Hmmm sounds good, 😎

January 5, 2000
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Tez, about parenting (I'm not a mother, so I'm talking "from a distance").
My belief is that as much control as necessary is better that as much control as possible. But maybe when we get very wise we will find out that this is the same anyway. My case for letting children make their own way as much as possible is: parents are not perfect, so one of the things they can do is try not to inhibit and mess up their children too much. This of course includes that they won't let their children inhibit the parent, or mess up their parent. And I firmly believe that people/children are basically ?good? - nah, that is way too pathetic, and not true- are basically highly motivated to live a life of wellbeing. And are fully equipped with all that is necessary for that. And they come equipped with a very high ability to see what others want, and to do what others expect of them anyway. Children normally bend over backwards just to make their parents happy, to comply, to fit in, to be one of the pack, no need for control there, you "just" have to give some directions.
Of course I don't advocate raising children without setting rules, boundaries, examples. But you can mainly do just that: set them. It is the child's choice what do do with them. And the amazing thing is: when you let them they usually get it "right". And they find ways of getting it right that you never ever dreamt of.

January 11, 2000
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Tez, you are so still? And did I understand you right, you say that there are only two pairs of "basic" emotions "fear/security" and "sexual arousal/sexual frustration"? If not - you said that you don't believe in "new" emotions. Could you give me a list of old ones, just to see what we are talking about?

And what would you call feelings like guilt, shame (wonderful book by S.Rushdie by the way!), pride and so on. Not feelings at all according to your definition? I'd call them emotions (they can be subconscious, and at least when I start to work on them they are not a part of my intellectual self). But they are a peculiar mixture of some twisted part of your "basic" emtions with learned behavior, and internalised beliefs about the world in general and bliefs about how "I am". This class of emotions/feelings/entities whatever you call them are something that acompanies me, influences my decisions, constitutes a large part of how I am and how I react as a person. And how I percieve my "Self". These emotions/other nameless entities are open to cognition (at least if I try, and after I bumped into them often enough). After recognizing them, they are open to evaluation, and reconstruction. I think they exist in most (all?) people, and they are helpful, to take routine decicions (like: when I want something from a shop, will I pay? what will I do, when i see an unknown person on the street? and so on, things that nomally run on autopilot). So what I try to do with these emotions is realize them, drag them out into the bright light of intellectual processing and let them go back to being an emotion again - although a slightly or grossly different one. This to me means that I prefer to have my emotions (or other entities) trained in a way that I am able to let them "run free" (not totally, not forever and not in all instances, but normally), mainly because everything else would bother me endlessly. It would - my opinion - mean that I have to give a large part of my working memory to the task of controlling my emotions. This processing of emotions (emotional processing??? hrrrg) is a long tour through many pleasant, unpleasant and sometimes rather surprising layers of myself, but I think it's worthwhile.

January 11, 2000
5:44 pm
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Eve.

Did I say, "only two pairs of "basic" emotions "fear/security" and "sexual arousal/sexual frustration"? Oh no, I certainly did not mean to imply that.

However, I did wish to imply that our evolutionally derived drive for survival of self and the species is behind all of our biological emotional responses that we experience as feelings when these systems are in arousal. Some of these systems are manifest as sexual, hunger, thirst, fear, etc... Arousal combinations manifest as the emotions. We consciously experience some arousals as feelings, others occur below consciousness.

I understand that we do lay down new emotional memories. These consist of memories of arousal of combinations of our body response systems and their associated 'triggers' at that time.

The names that we give to feelings are to designate and communicate our awareness of the meaning of the arousal of the body response systems. e.g. if we were sexually abused as a child, sexual arousal and fear arousal plus a trigger memory could manifest as a 'feeling' of guilt. If there is no associated contextual memory, then the feeling is dissociated and the 'cause' is often wrongly attributed.

You said, "These emotions/other nameless entities are open to cognition" Yes, but the problem is really understanding the origin of the emotions (past emotional experiences remembered in our amygdala) and their associated triggers. Making good cognitively based decisions depends on this correct understanding. Otherwise we are on 'autopilot' and don't realize it.

You said, "After recognizing them, they are open to evaluation, and reconstruction." If you are implying that you can modify past emotional learning, then I am somewhat reluctant to agree. I think that you can modify the triggering threshold and put an emotional memory into disuse. This is the purpose of aversion therapy. However, if retriggered at any time by a stimulus of suficient magnitude then that emotional memory is re-enabled for further triggering. This is one of the dangers of the use of hypnosis by inexperienced and unqualified people.

You said, "It would - my opinion - mean that I have to give a large part of my working memory to the task of controlling my emotions." Yes, I think this is called emotional maturity.

You said, "This processing of emotions (emotional processing??? hrrrg) is a long tour through many pleasant, unpleasant and sometimes rather surprising layers of myself, but I think it's worthwhile." If you mean the contemplation of the nature and causes of emotional responses, I totally agree.

I understand emotional processes and cognitive processes as occurring in totally different parts of the brain. We are largely unconscious of the actual processing of both these processes and only conscious of the outputs .

January 12, 2000
1:39 pm
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Tez,
I’m still trying to understand your concept of emotions. You said that „our evolutionally derived drive for survival of self and the species is behind all of our biological emotional responses that we experience as feelings“. Why do you stress the point that we are biological beings so much? After all - physiology (my medical dictionary: the science of normal processes of life; i.e. the opposite would be pathology) and biology are what we are made of. My opinion is that intellect and conciousness are also something basically biological and I think that we have them, because they seem to provide certain advantages for our survival (as a species). I seem to have difficulties to understand your concept of emotions as something completely sparated from intellect and consciousness; or am I again misinterpreting you. Maybe you can understand better what I want to say when you know that I am a vet (though not working in general practice), and by and large for me humans are basically „just another species“. That we have biological drives that manifest themselfs as emotions or feelings is something that to me is pretty evident, you don’t need to convince me that it is „true“, and you would have a hard time trying to convince me otherwise. But further than that I normally draw a line on „biological only“ explanations. Mainly because I believe that the questions already shape the answers, when the field of study is a complex one (e.g. life, behaviour of mammals incl. humans, relations between people, most of medicine). And there are such horrible examples from history when theories about biology were taken, transformed into belief systems (sometimes by the people inventing the theory) and then used as justifications for doing just about everything. E.g. Hitler and his concept of the superiority of the „arian race“.

I think our biological background is something that we shouldn’t neglect, but not something that is really suitable for planning (it does set a frame).

Some examples from the veterinary viewpoint:
what makes a dog „behave“? In my opinion it is a a mixture of: - socialization i.e. contact with miscellaneous humans and dogs, not too many of them negative experiences (according to the behavioral vets that has to happen in early puppyhood up to an age of 3-4 months). - training by a responsible and cognizant owner (training can start at 2 months of age, and the most important point is that the owner knows some basics about how and what dogs can learn). When this is sucessful, then a dog is not dangerous to people or other dogs when it runs free, unless it finds itself forced to defend itself. Movies like „Lassie“ are not really helpful as background information on „what to expect from a dog“. Feel free to make some associations about emotions and their „owners“ - but they are just that - associations. No My second example would have been about castrating dogs, but I have to go now, just received an invitation for dinner. 🙂
Eve
proof. No must. Maybe helpful, maybe not.

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