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Man's Search for Meaning III
January 12, 2000
1:45 pm
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eve
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I'll never copy and paste again, I'll never copy and paste again...... Sorry The last thing about must, helpful and so on should belong to the associations two lines further up.

January 12, 2000
5:17 pm
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Eve.

You asked, " Why do you stress the point that we are biological beings so much?" Normally, I don't. However, in these postings, we have been focussing on emotions. Emotions are biologically derived. This is why I am stressing our biological components so much.

You said, "My opinion is that intellect and conciousness are also something basically biological..." Well... here I am not so sure. Amongst other phenomena, near death experiences (NDEs) have demonstrated how conscious awareness can transcent brain function and body sense organ inputs. Much documented and verifiable evidence has shown this to be true. However. I do agree that cognitive processing relies on brain function. It seems that our awareness of our thinking, our cognitions, may be the transcendent part of us in action.

You said, "I seem to have difficulties to understand your concept of emotions as something completely sparated from intellect and consciousness..." It has been established that cognitive processing (cortical) and emotional processing(amygdala- subcortical) are carried out in very diffferent parts of the brain (LeDoux, 1996). It has also been established that working memory (located in prefrontal lobe), the supposed location of consciousness, receives inputs from both these parts as well as others. It has also been shown that 'feedback' loops exist which affect these processes. In other words, emotions affect thoughts and thoughts affect emotions. However, this feedback is NOT symmetrical.

The effects of thoughts on emotions are much 'weaker' than the effects of emotions on thoughts. Though this may change over the eons of future evolution. I see the great advances in technology as being cognitive achievements which have been powered by emotional drives. However I believe that 'civilisation' relies on cognitions overriding destructive primitive emotional drives for the common good. As you so ably demonstrated (Hitler's Nazi conquests), every so often cognitions fails to control these destructive emotional forces.

January 13, 2000
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Hi all, long time no talk.

I just started a new semester at school with three psych courses on my back. This was the first week, so it was the most hectic.

Anyways, I'm taking a very interesting honors sociology class called "Sex, Men and Fatherhood" where we cover everything from cultural tropes for male heterosexuals to sexual dysfunction to sexual abuse. Although it's taught from a pro-feminist perspective, it definately explores issues that aren't normally addressed nowadays. I'm kind of preoccupied with the topic now.

So I guess I'll jump in...I read in Tez's post above about NDEs. Tez, I was reading an article about that for my physiological psych class. I'll just play devil's advocate for a second: scientists have conjectured that in the last moments of consciousness, before you die, you experience a rush of "pleasure" neurotransmitters in the brain (dopamine, serotonin). They say this might explain NDEs completely, especially the similarity in stories, because a similar biochemical reaction occurs right before death in most human brains, depending on the way you die.

Also, when the brain is deprived of oxygen, you will experience hallucinations (as when you huff nitrous oxide or freon and those particles take up the space of oxygen without giving you the suffocating sensation). Any comments?

January 13, 2000
7:45 pm
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Cici.

Hi! Welcome back. Thanks for your response.

I am very conversant with the alternative explanations. Dr Michael Sabom, MD, a then Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, at Emory University set about researching all the alternative explanations mentioned by you. Initially, he was convinced of their validity. To his surprise at the end of his research, he was convinced to the contrary. His book is called 'Recollections of Death'.

Dr Dr Kenneth Ring, MD, and Raymond Moody, MD, have both also written other books in the same vein disputing a physiological explanation. Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is yet another.

It is the correlation between actual events as witnessed by others and related by the NDE experiencer that convinces me of the transcendent nature of our awareness. These events occurred well away from the location of the 'dying person'. In fact very many events witnessed by the NDE'r occured in another town altogether! NDErs have seen nurses performing specific duties such as storing the NDEr's possessions in cabinets in other hospital rooms. Such occurences are at the same time easily verified and yet impossible to explain by resorting to present scientific theory or knowledge.

There is a whole body of evidence that corroborates the ability of our awareness to transcend body functions.

I know of no scientist who has researched the topic with an open mind and refuted the above. Those that I know of that have tried, invariably change their beliefs. There is a marked paucity of credible authors researching and publishing findings that validate a physiological explanation for NDEs.

Of course NDEs are only one way of transcendence as you would already know, I am sure.

January 14, 2000
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Hi all, sorry to butt in. I have always wondered if NDEs are a memory of being born? You know long tunnel, bright light!!! As cici says we get the rush of chemicals before death/ serious accident etc, that release memory, I have many biker friends and all of us know that feeling of your life flashing before your eyes when you find yourself about top hit the tarmac at 150mph!

I have a friend who seems to have 9 lives, he swears he had an NDE, but i guess I would need to experience it myself, and even then i think i would be sceptical.

I just long for the day when we can truely understand the brain and the role that all these weird chemicals play, along with our own DNA.
I think we will find that nature has more impact that nuture after all.

Anyway, i'll leave you now because this is way too deep for me!

Hazza

January 14, 2000
1:20 pm
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eve
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All
'm listening, just don't know what to say at the moment.

Wait a minute, Tez: you seem "to put the blame" for Hitler's Nazi mess on his emotions. To me first and foermost it was his rational thinking that created all this mess. Emotions alone are very personal and limited to one person and direct bystanders. All this organization.. emotional....?? No, if I have to "put the blame on somebody" to me that should be rational thinking.

January 14, 2000
7:46 pm
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Eve.

I avoid 'blaming' as much as I can. I firmly believe that given Hitler's situation, I would have behaved the same way; there but for the grace of .... stuff. I would not call Adolf's thinking rational. He was very much into emotional appeals to the masses. He touched and stimulated the emotions of the Germans to the point of madness.

Convincing anybody of their superiority based on racial grounds is ludicrous. German movies, made and distributed at Goebels behest, showing rat infested sewers concurrently with images of Jews with rat like appearances, was manipulation of primitive fears within the population. Appeals for 'liebensraum' or living space again was a manipulation of collective fear. Emotions were the driving force in Nazi Germany. Apart from the severity of the preWWII reparation payments, the great depression and the inflation of the deutschmark, there is little rationality in the Nazi cause. Their deification of the Teutonic Knights and the use of the ancient symbol of the Swastika furthered the emotional appeal of their sick message.

In pre war Germany, the appeal to the emotions and their subsequent arousal, came first; the cognitive organisation was only possible after the siezure of power by manipulation of the emotions of the masses. Most war time propaganda is an emotional appeal. Irrationality and lies are standard fare in times of global conflict.

The modern Nazis demonstrate this irrational emotionalism in their present day bid for power; itself an emotionally driven objective. Any rational person knows that 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely'.

I do not blame the German race, nor Hitler, for not understanding the emotional forces that drove them. Their irrationalisations in trying to justify their emotions were based on ignorance.

We , myself especially, can learn much from the past. I can learn how to avoid people, places and things that will provoke and awaken the 'shadow' that dwells within all of us. I can learn to recognise my 'shadow' in the form primitive negative unfocussed and ungrounded feelings.

I can learn not to project irrational motives into others based on my emotional memory recall alone. For quite often I find myself jousting with unconscious phantoms from my emotional past, whilst my 'perceived' opponents look on with dismay at my irrationality in the light of the lack of a present threat.

But most of all I seek to find meaning in the existence of so many emotions interacting with so many others as egos clash by the millions globally on a daily basis.

January 14, 2000
11:31 pm
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Tez,

In trying to avoid things which wake the shadow aren't you doing yourself a disservice? Didn't Jung say:
"Whatever one does not live, lives against one". So, to skirt the shadow means you are fighting against a part of self. Isn't it better to face it? In the case of Hitler...wasn't his original problem based on family dynamics?

January 15, 2000
2:06 pm
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Tez, yes and no. I agree to everything that you said in your last post, when I look at it from my viewpoint.
But I also believe that these people (it wasn't Hitler alone) were firmly believing that they were operating on a realistic view of the world ("tuth"), and tried hard to do things as "good" and effectively as possible. I dare bet that they organised all this propaganda initially, to convince others of the truth, for their own good (altruistic, isn't it?). They were on a mission for their view of the world.

This is something that happens every day, in all countries.
What made it so hugely bad then?

I think it was a clash of high marketing skills, a population on the lookout for some new sociopolitical truth (the old one, being a defeated former great Monarchy that afterwards didn't cope with democracy was not a nice truth - they were on the lookout for someting to believe in), and the initiators coming from backgrounds that were highly dysfunctional (from todays view).

An example for normal education in those days: my grandma rememembers from schooltime that her teacher "tortured the two kids in the class that had the poorest parents". In a very sadistic, physically and mentally abusive way. And this was something that was so horribly "normal". Everybody knew, nobody objected, it was just something that children had to go through. (This was not during nazi times, until then my grandma was a young mother). And for the children (sons) of richer people things weren't all roses either, they were subjected to hard military and supressive educational rites.

But again - that is something that happens in many countries, even now, and most of them don't grow big Hitlers, just little ugly dictators, that do things in less impressive numbers.

So: I disagree. I think what made Hiter so "sucessfull", compared to others was not his emotions but logical thinking and planning (of course based on false truths, but how many of us today would be able to recognise their truths for what they are - mostly a selfmade construction of emotional beliefs and an intelectual frame to fit those emotions in somehow). And when you state that "Any rational person knows that 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely'." This is just a hope based on your view of the world, I'm afraid. So often we use the word "rational" when we should say "at least that is how I think it should be".
Eve

PS: I like "liebensraum" but it was "Lebensraum". Translation: raum means room and liebens would mean "for love" , but lebens means "for life".

January 16, 2000
7:20 pm
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Kitten.
In your posting of 14-Jan-00 you said, " In trying to avoid things which wake the shadow aren't you doing yourself a disservice?" If I was trying to deny my shadow, you would be dead right in what you said. I am not denying my propensity to perform great evil by allowing free reign to my fears. In fact, I often monitor my thinking patterns looking for self-deception in all its subtle forms.

"Facing" my ‘shadow’ as much as the curtain across my consciousness/unconsciousness will allow has been a preoccupation of mine for many years. The more that I can accept the ‘demons within’ the more that the curtain opens. These ‘demons’, I believe, are a product of my genetic inheritance of biological survival drives and distorted emotional memories of the ‘dangerous world’ in which I live. A few more fortunate people have a similar biological inheritance but their emotional memories are of a ‘safe, secure loving world’; their ‘archetypal demons’ are much more benign. The great variation in the effects of LSD demonstrate the difference in the nature of the ‘demons’ between subjects.

I am endeavouring to ‘nurture’ and ‘support’ my inner child (my unthinking emotional self) by fostering ‘self talk’ that promotes feelings of well being. Counting my blessings and developing an attitude of gratitude are some instances of my self-nurturing.

You also said, "In the case of Hitler...wasn't his original problem based on family dynamics?" - I believe so. His authoritarian, distant, cold father and his doting mother together had sown the emotional seeds that later blossomed into his powerful drive for dominating the world. Adolf’s experiences in the trenches of WWI and his subsequent poverty in the doss houses of Vienna in his youth certainly capped off the emotional damage done in childhood.

Thanks for your response

January 16, 2000
7:22 pm
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Eve.
Thanks for your response and for correcting my German. You are correct of course. I should have realised that putting the extra erroneous 'i' in the word 'Lebensraum' changed the meaning completely.

As for well known statement 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely' being "just a hope based on (my) view of the world" This could not be farther from the truth. I truly wished it were otherwise. With rare exceptions like Mahatma Gandi, history has substantiated this well known saying over and over and over. The examples establishing its validity are legion.

As for this side track into the motivations of Hitler in leading the world into the madness that was WWII, Hitler's lack of rationality and control over his emotions as well as his emotionally based decisions in defiance of all his General Staff’s best advice, are well documented.

Getting back on track with this thread, my interest is in the meaning in the suffering and why we inflict pain upon ourselves in the first place. My interest is in why 'nature' evolved' as it has; resulting in sentient, needy human beings who are conscious of their own inevitable death.

January 17, 2000
10:50 am
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Cici, all,

you were talking about possible physiological explanations for NDEs. Unlike Tez I think there is some truth to that.
But trying to explain these experiences and what they mean to the people experiencing them by the pysiology happening to me would be like trying to explain the difference between men and women by differences in the growth of their nasal hair. When you look at a question too closely you will most likely be able to explain something fully, but you will loose sight of the original question, at least temporarily.
But why is it, that for some people seem to be very glad to find a physiological explanation while others seem to be really worried by the prospect of physiology explaining NDEs?
Any ideas? (A similiar question to me is: why do some people dread a psychiatric diagnosis - while for others a diagnosis seems to be THE most important step to healing)

Eve

January 17, 2000
12:40 pm
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eve
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Tez,
I meant no offense by stating that I think "Any rational person knows that 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely'" is a hope rather than a truth. The statement about power is one I find quite rational and one that I agree to heartily. I rather objected to the "any rational person knows" part of your statement. Because this is a generalsation about what other people shoud think is true. And I don't like anybody (not even you, who has obviously done a lot of thinking on that matter), to give a statement what people should think. Eve

January 17, 2000
5:02 pm
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Eve.
Offence? I promise you, if I were offended I would use it to my best advantage in learning more about myself. I would identify the trigger that caused the emotional arousal, experienced by me as the feeling of being offended. I would go looking into my past for likely reasons why a 'trigger' of this kind would provoke such a recall of a past emotion. But, until this moment, I have been unaware of an 'offence' of any kind to anyone including myself. It seems that you have taken offence at what I said. Let's look at that.

Firstly, I would never presume to think that there ought to be conformity with my way of reasoning. Human reasoning is far too complex and diverse for that.

Secondly, I suspect that your objection may have been caused by how you interpreted my statement. You may have taken it as a personal attack on you. Did you?

On rereading what I wrote, I can now see that you could easily have inferred that I was implying that you were irrational. This was not my intention. I was substantiating my case for the predominance of emotional motives in Hitler's behaviour. By implication, the logic behind my case was as follows: Absolute power is totally corrupting. Hitler had absolute power. Therefore Hitler was absolutely corrupted. Hitler thought that he was absolutely correct in his behaviour not corrupt. Therefore since 'any rational person knows that absolute power corrupts absolutely' and Hitler didn't recognize this corruption in himself, then Hitler was irrational. This was the sole intention in making this statement.

However, I do take your point that my choice of words was not precise nor accurate for communicating my intent. I should have said 'most rational people' instead of 'any rational people'. I caused the miscommunication. Mea culpa, mea culpa. 🙂

Eve, I hope this clears any misunderstandings up. On the net, the problem with losing other channels of feedback, like body language, voice intonation etc is that such miscommunications are not detected until after the unintended 'button pushing' has provoked a full on emotional response. There is no mechanism for a timely correction in that miscommunication. 🙂 That I regret, sigh...

Now, I've lost all track of where we were on this thread. 🙂

January 18, 2000
8:57 am
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As far as NDEs go, I think it's the prospect of evidence that the spirit transcends the physical body that is so tantilizing to some, especially scientists who rely on the concrete and proveable to define their environment. This is what is the most seductive. But then again, as I've heard pounded into my brain over and over again, "Correlation does not imply causation." Anecdotal evidence is at best anecdotal.

January 18, 2000
10:52 am
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Tez, unlike you I really don't mind emotional responses of myself very much (maybe because my emotional memories are less unplesant!) 🙂

And I guess, what I'm taking "personally" is this biology thing. To me it seems like you somehow want to "get rid of" or "reduce the influence of" biology. I don't like that, because my experience is, that it helped me a lot to learn to rely on my biology rather than to take my biology grundgingly into account. But: everybody has to find their own ways.

And of course you are right: words sometimes are a quite small part of communication. Even on the internet, when we should know better :-).

Eve

January 18, 2000
12:21 pm
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Cici,

well, yes.
Anectodal evidence is just anectodal and coincidence/correlation does not mean causation. But I think we have to have our theories or beliefs about what causes what. Otherwise we would be immoblilized, not able to take any decisions, or even make a move. I think the best we can get, is awareness of what we think causes what.

Does tantalizing mean "you can't leave it alone" (the dictionary gives "excrutiating" as well as "irresistable")? hm, oooh, I like language and what the use of language sometimes suggests. Guess that is just another form of my above question. Why do people find something that they can't leave alone either positive or negative. Ambivalent sems also possible, and switching rapidly between positive and negative, too. But boring? No way! Any ideas how we can find out about why we have some things rather than others that we can't leave alone? These "can't leave it alone" things are different for different people, or are they?

Eve

January 19, 2000
9:39 am
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I suppose forme it comes down to personal neuroses (ha ha ha). Obsessions, for example. We are all fixated strangely on some rituals (praying before we eat for example) or objects (lucky underware) or even people (romeo and juliet). Psychologists have theorized far and wide to explain why we fixate on certain things, whether they are positive or negative.

Personal association has been a good indicator. In early development we learn to associate certain things/behaviors/rituals with certain pleasant or unpleasant emotions. Social norms can dictate whether our "can't leave it alone things" are similar or different (aberrations like a shoe fetish, a sexual connection with an inappropriate object).

I suppose we could find out by monitoring physiological responses what people are obsessed with. Why is a whole other sotry. Childhood recollections or traumas are probably a good indicator.

I'm not sure if I addressed the question alongthe appropriate vein!!!

January 20, 2000
7:08 pm
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Eve.

I don't see "biology" as the enemy. Nor do I take it "grudgingly into account". Biological drives are central to my understanding of the emotions.

It is good that your emotional memories serve you well. That is how it ideally should to be. However, many have not been parented so well. Such people, self included, have a set of emotional memories which, if given free reign when triggered, produce very unwanted and anti-social behaviour.

I believe that you would not approve of the physical and emotional abuse of women and children because a father does not control his emotionally driven urges behind violent behaviour.

I hope you also believe that I would not condone the suppression of any emotion. I would however strongly recommend learning control over anti-social behaviour. In order to maintain a low level of the emotional arousal driving such behaviour - as opposed to denial of emotional arousal - I would strongly recommend the application of cognitive therapy or any other effective therapeutic approach. I hope this clarifies my stance on dealing with emotions.

All the best.

January 24, 2000
1:38 pm
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Tez,

you said „I believe that you would not approve of the physical and emotional abuse of women and children because a father does not control his emotionally driven urges behind violent behaviour.“ Well, of course I don’t approve of abuse, and I do hope that you believe that. What would make you think otherwise? That I said I believe that we should control our emotions only as far as necessary, not as far as possible? I sincerely find your example one that shows a great necessity of self-control.

Just that it is not allways possible to do what’s necessary doesn’t mean that it is always necessary to do everything possible 🙂

And I also find that people are usually much better at being emotional, than at being sensible. Therefore I think sometimes it would be more efficient to learn how to react to other peoples emotional behaviors in a non-damaging way (not abusive emotional behaviors, there are lots of non violent, non abusive emotions), than to expect the others to control that emotion. Controlling emotions like love, afffection, appreciation is very common in our society (we don’t make „a fuss“ we don’t want to „spoil children“, we often don’t dare to recognise or show our own happiness, for fear of envy or because it is not appropriate, we often don't show positive emotions because we think we might "get on someones nerves", we generally tend to talk down on positive emotions), maybe it would help to be less controling about these emotions, I mean, how is anybody supposed to build up „good“ emotional memories? By rational thinking alone this seems difficult, even to me, who is a great lover of learning and who gets a lot of pleasure out of understanding something new.

I guess your answer will be, that I talked about suppression of emotions - I don't think so, because I allow myself to have this "good" feelings, I just don't always allow myself to show that feelings to others, isn't that the difference between suppression and control?

Eve

January 24, 2000
2:55 pm
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Hi Eve. Tez,

How about regulate rather than control?

January 25, 2000
4:46 pm
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Eve.

When I think about control of the emotions, I am not primarily talking about behaviour. I am mainly talking about cognitive control over the undesirable arousal of the body's biological systems before, during and after they occur. I see inappropriate behaviour as a consequence of lack of understanding and control over the emotional arousal levels.

We seem to be talking about different things here. You appear to be talking primarily about control over behaviour after arousal occurs.

A friend of mine is suffering badly from a breakup of a very dysfunctional relationship. He came to me for help. I am helping him to deal with his feelings. His behaviour is not a problem to him. He is quite content with his behaviour and needs no help from me on that account. He is seeking support and help in understanding the nature of his emotions and where the emotional arousals are coming from in his psyche. He seeks relief from his intense, highly unpleasant and reoccuring fear arousals. It is understanding and control over these seemingly 'irrational' fear arousals that he seeks; not so much his behaviour.

January 25, 2000
4:48 pm
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gst.

How would you differentiate between 'control' and 'regulate'.

January 25, 2000
4:59 pm
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Tez,

Ahhh, that clarifies a lot!

January 25, 2000
6:11 pm
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Hi Tez,

I suppose when I thinks of control, it is all encompassing whether emotional or behavioral. But to regulate means doing just what is needed. just a thought.

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