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negativity and self-esteem
May 26, 2000
7:39 pm


You said, "One of my professors recently proposed that as we evolve into a more modern society, the physiological structure of our brain development has not changed fast enough to cope with the new demands of a technologically evolved society. Thus, mood disorders, are on the rise."

I would totally agree. The fore brain, in evolutional time, is a relatively recent 'innovation'. The centre of the emotions in the mid brain (the amygdala) evolved much earlier. As a consequence, the neural connections from our emotional centre to our cortex are much more established in that direction than in the reverse. Thus our emotions have a far greater effect on our cognitions than our cognitions have on our emotions. Thus the 'wild horses' of our emotions are prone to 'bolting' out of 'cognitive' control. We are prompted by our emotions to see 'threats' where they do not really exist. When taken to the extreme in cases of 'mental illness', this is easy to see. However, in us 'normal' people,- if normality exist at al, it is much harder to observe.

The question is: "what governs the triggering of our emotions?". The answer, according to LeDoux, is 'emotional memories'. The old operant and instrumental conditioning theories find a new home. Learnt triggers of emotional memories precipitate the re-arousal of those 'emotionally' remembered arousal states from the past. For example, if slighted or downright ignored in adulthood, some of us re-feel the threat to our survival that we felt as a tiny infant when left to cry alone in the dark seemingly deserted by our mothers. However, in such cases, in adulthood, such feelings are inappropriate. Yet often times such feelings, in adults, can produce very agressive behaviour. Freudians and Jungians would class this as neurotic behaviour. I see it as an inability to accurately cognitively assess feelings and to control by self-reassurance, the body arousal state, the emotions.

Thus, it would seem to me, all violent and anti-social behaviour can be attributed to a combination of poor parenting and societal reinforcement, by retribution, of emotional memories, associated triggers and associated cognitively held beliefs about the ramifications of events that trigger these emotional states.

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