Monday, January 25, 2021

4 - Emotions 1

1.1 – Visual example of how emotions are evoked

First test: If you don’t sense or feel anything moving in your body-mind unit after having seen this clip until the end, then you’re somehow emotionally different abled as most people (again, some kind of shot in the dark, since I don’t know most people!). In any case, since in some way or another, we all belong to different Neuro-tribes, each of us has a distinct reaction to outside and inside emotional triggers. 

 2 – Two flashlights on emotions
  • Most of us accept the way our heart flutters when we set eyes on the one we secretly admire, or the sweat on our brow as we start the presentation we do not want to give. But few of us are fully aware of how dramatic our body’s reactions to emotions can sometimes be. 
Suzanne O’Sullivan 
It’s all in your head 

  • Emotions, from blinding rage to wide-eyed love, are the body’s immediate, physical responses to important signals from the outside world. 
Susan David 
Emotional Agility 

 3 – Two questions

 • What’s the emotion you use most in your daily life?

 • What are the emotions you don’t allow yourself to feel? 

Some people suppress or deny their emotions, it seems that they are afraid of them, because it seems that some emotions are too strong and cause too much pain. So these humans don´t know and they don´t feel their emotions, instead they feel comfortably numb, which in a lot of cases is better than feeling an intense emottional pain. 

When I was a child, 
I caught a fleeting glimpse 
Out of the corner of my eye 
I turned to look, but it was gone 
I cannot put my finger on it now
 The child is grown 
The dream is gone 
And I have become 
Comfortably numb 

There are times when becoming emotionally numb may help you to survive a threat and danger to your integrity, and that´s when your mind wanders out of reality, just to protect you: 

  • As the sexual abuse continued, I started emotionally and mentally checking out. This numbness became frequent. Becoming numb, completely detached from the situation and my emotions somehow made it all okay. 
Bonnie Kelly 
True To Your Core: … 

 4 – Emotions in different language games 

 4.1 – Intellectual and/or academic language games and how they describe and/or explain emotions 

If you want to listen to the shrinks of the American Psychological Association (APA), then they will tell you that an emotion is “a complex reaction pattern, involving experiential, behavioral and physiological elements.” 

According to this definition, an emotion contains at least three core elements: 

 A) A subjective experience = some stimulus awakes something in you; your attention focuses on the stimulus. 

B) A physiological response = like you breath faster, your heart pumps more blood and oxygen to the organs, etc. 

 C) A more or less visible body reaction = that means that people can see (or not) in what kind of emotional state you are in, in that precise moment (some people are more acustomed to understand bodily reactions than others!). 

 In other words, Emotions are sensory impressions which involve physical and psychological experiences that influence our reactions and actions in a given situation. Emotions influence our thinking, taking decisions, making choices, and, last but not least, our behaviour and the sensations of our body. 

Different emotions can lead to the same physiological reaction, in a way that both sadness and joy can make us cry, like infatuation and anger both can make us feel hot and energic, and also excitement and fear both can make our heart beat faster. 

It seems that emotions come up or we create them, when we deal with matters or situations we find personally significant, a spectrum that goes from the most life threatening to the most pleasurable and everything in between. 

That means at the same time, that different people may have different emotions in the same situation, and that the same person may react to the more or less same situation at another time completely different. 

The definition of what an emotion really is, is still not accepted by all scientists, some say that emotions are triggered and others say that we create our emotions. So there are two teams of word workers that fight for the legitimate sovereignity to define "what emotions are and how they influence us". these two teams of concept definers are completely antagonistic in the fight for the right definiton of what emotions are and all other questions related to emotions and feelings. 

The first team plays a language games where, always according to that team, emotions are hardwired into our brain and these emotions are more or less the same in all cultures around the world. 

The second team plays a language games where emotions are softwired into our body-mind unit since toddler age, that means that emotions are learned and then created by ourselves. According to this team, emotions are social constructions, learned especially during childhood and teenage years, and these emotions and their expressions are relative and specific to each culture. 

One team talks about the hard wiring of emotions in our brain (emotions are universal and innate by genetic inheritence = nature). 

The other team talks about the soft wiring of emotions (emotions are relative and contingent by learning them in real life in a certain culture = social construction). 

In everyday parlance emotions and feelings are used interchangeably, whereas some psychologists say that emotions are unconscious and that feelings are consccious, which means that first comes the emotional experience and when you get conscious about it, it converts into a feeling. 

Considering that somehow believable view, a feeling is based on and the result of an emotional experience, and may be influenced by your present situation and environment, by your past memories, your unconscious beliefs and social factors you may or may not be aware of. 

Anyway, I will use most of the time, as an average everyday language gamer, ‘emotion’ and ‘feeling’ interchangeably. 

To resume (as far as I nearly understand it!): 

According to Neuroscientists and Psys, the emotional experience is that you feel something in a given moment and situation. 

Whereas the feeling is the interpretation and the story in your mind that goes with or that you invent to label and understand the emotional experience somehow. Under this perspective, all feelings are therefore labelled and interpreted emotions by you. You tell yourself what you´re feeling, since emotions don´t come with a name tag attached. What you feel is always an interpretation by you, even if you´re not conscious of it. 

4.2 – Attention please!!: Some red flags of caution for the linguistically innocent who still believe that words mirror some kind of real reality 

Whenever you find different descriptions and definitions for the same “thing” or “word”, that means that the question at hand is not very clear and that the word or concept refers to something which in a way is intangible and fluid by its own “nature”. 

Emotions just fall in this category of “things” that come and go like the waves of the ocean, sometimes you don’t see the waves, the surface of the water seems to be without any movement, and at other times the waves burst out with the energy of a deadly tsunami, which may affect a lot of other “things” on its path. 

So the question remains: how to classify and normalize our “emotions” in one agreed definition. We don’t have that by now, but I have listed further down a few more examples of how some mind-word-workers describe and define “emotions”: 

The only thing clear about emotions is that they are not very easy to define for a lot of people, even when these people are experts in the field of putting labels to changing and fleeting intangible “things”: • 

  • Even in such a limited field as English-language experimental psychology, ninety-two different definitions of emotion have been counted between 1872 and 1980. The sheer difficulty of defining emotion is often treated as its leading characteristic,… 
Jan Plamper 
The History of Emotions

 'Cause there we are again on that little town street 
You almost ran the red 
'cause you were lookin' over at me 
Wind in my hair, I was there 
I remember it all too well 

We remember people, places and situations  because they had, at some moment in time, a special emotional significance for us! Without emotional appraisal, our memory forgets easily or doesn´t even register the event in the first place! 

Acting Emtional intelligent is to know that

People won´t remember what you said.  
People won´t remember what you did, 
but they will always remember 
how you made them feel. 
Maya Angelou 

4.3 – The difficult task of knowing what you are feeling 

There are probably hundreds of words for English symbols users with which they can label their internal emotional states, but most people only use and know just a few of them. Knowing more words for identifying and labelling your internal sensations doesn’t mean that you experience more emotions than other people, it only means that you can put more and different labels on your internal sensations than others. 

 And then again, that doesn’t mean that you label your emotions correctly (whatever that means!), since the labelling of your emotions is always a very personal interpretation, which depends, as already mentioned, on your DNA, vour personal history, your upbringing, your current environment you´re living in, your status in society, and other influences you are not even aware of. 

 Sometimes you may think that you’re angry, when in reality your body sensation is more of sadness (retire, hide), but when you believe that you are angry, you are in a kind of active mode, whereas when you define your emotional state as sadness, passivity and depression may creep in, as you may fall back into a passive state of hopelessness. What you believe is what there is and how you will react! 

If you don’t know how you feel right now, don’t worry, you’re not alone! In general humans can’t identify their emotional base line, nor their actual emotional state in a normal everyday situation. Humans only realize their emotions when some sensationsi inside their bodies increase about certain levels, so then these sentient mammals become aware of their emotional experience. 

Once again, to some "subjects supposed to know", some of us seem to feel nothing at all, they function with what psychologists call “Alexithymia”, which means that they are unable to identify and describe how they feel. The Wikipedia article and other authors claim that around 10 % of the population in Western countries are unable to describe their emotions and as a byproduct they can’t identify the emotional states of others, which doesn’t help that much in establishing and maintaining smooth social relationships. 

If you want to know how good or less good you are in your recognizing skills of emotions, you can try the Toronto Alexithymia Scale to measure your skills or unskills in understanding, guessing and describing emotions, which may help you in your relations with other sentient animals.  

Not knowing your and the emotional state of others may cause some problems in personal- and work-relationships, but being able to describe your emotions and using more words for any kind of emotional experience doesn’t mean that you have a deeper understanding of your emotions and how you deal, regulate and balance them in real life situations. Maybe yes, maybe not! 

If you want and can, remember also: 
  •   …just because we can give the behaviour or symptom a name, doesn’t mean we actually know anything about what is going on
Andrew T. Austin 
The rainbow machine … 

How life may look like without feelings. 

4.4 – Emotions and feelings in mass media narratives 

Most cultural products like books, movies and songs are about human mammals and their emotional reactions to others and the obstacles life presents in the process of living and attaining their goals (money, fame, trophy wife or status husband, etc.). The stories we like to read or watch most are the ones where we can identify with the emotions of the protagonists of the story, that means, in most of the cases the stories and lyrics evoke love, anger, fear, loss, sadness and last but not least courage, the one human quality that conquers all obstacles and afterwards the main characters live forever young. 

Just by pure coincidence, love, anger and fear are the emotions we all know all too well, and so the stories we prefer are about humans who fall in love (Romantic novels and movies) and face all kinds of misunderstandings and obstacles (Romeo and Juliet, You’ve got an email, …) until they can live and love happily ever after (in stories and movies yes, and in ...?). 

In any case, these mass media narratives not only describe, but at the same time prescribe the emotions we have to feel in certain situations and with other people. The clearest example is the narrative of Romantic Love, invented in Western Europe first with the Troubadours and later on amplified by the writers and philosophers of Romanticism, a few hundred years ago. 

Then again, Romantic Love and a lot of other “things” seem to look always better in movies and in books than in real life. Somehow the scripts of lone thinkers and overstressed hollywood screen writers are much more gratifying than the so labelled romantic love in real life. 

Another genre where emotions play a central role, are the tragedies,which tell the story of someone who has been terribly wronged (Greek and other tragedies, Action movies, movies of the Wild West. Bhagavad Gita) and consequently gets tremendously angry and seeks and succeeds in taking revenge (Medea, Electra, Hamlet, Unforgiven, …). 

Sometimes the act of revenge includes lesser or greater “collateral damages”, which means in less euphemistic language that not only the “guilty” ones have been captured and/or murdered, but also that innocent kids and adults have been killed, who had the bad luck (which in general is no luck at all), to be in the wrong place at the exact wrong time. 

So, at least in so called Western cultures (Europe, North America) the majority of stories (social narratives) produced and distributed by mass media are about humans and their emotional reactions and following actions in relation to other people and the life-events and obstacles they face. These social narratives include the comics of, for ex., Superman, Spiderman, Hulk, Wonder Woman, Mickey Mouse, etc., which all of them not only prescribe how you should feel in certain situations, they prescribe also how you should live, the values that make you a good citizen in a given society (being just, being helpful, punishing the bad guy, etc.). 

At the same time, our family, the educational system and all the cultural products we consume, not only tell us what and when we should feel something, but they tell and show us also how and when we can express these feelings.  

Being alone you may cry and feeling sad whenever you feel like it. Being in society induces us to paint a social smile on our faces, which is what is expected of us when we  connect and deal with other social animals. 

She's always smiling
When you see her day to day
But she's been crying
While you looked the other way
She's often hiding
To save you from the pain
That she's been fighting
In the most mysterious way

Other kind of stories we read and watch which are not so focused on emotions, like real science books full of tecnical concepts and interesting documentaries, don’t have the mass appeal and don’t hook most of us as much as the stories full of emotional sound and fury, evoking and signifying at the same time the reality of the social world for most of the sentient beings called humans. 

You may consider, if you want to write a book: 
  • Every mathematical equation in a book reduces its potential readership by a factor of one hundred! 

4.5 – To conclude or confuse even more, here are some opinions of some “Subjects supposed to know” who had seized during a short moment in time the interpretative sovereignity to talk, define and write about “emotions” 

  • The emotions are all those affections which cause men to change their opinion in regard to their judgements, and are accompanied by pleasure and pain; such are anger, pity, fear, and all similar emotions and their contraries. 
The art of rhetoric 

  • Emotions are specialized states that adjust physiology, cognition, subjective experience, facial expressions, and behavior in ways that increase the ability to meet the adaptive challenges of situations that have recurred over the evolutionary history of a species. 
Randolph M. Nesse 
Good Reasons for Bad Feeling

  • Instead, the hallmark feature of emotion appears to be that they are directed toward a specific object or event. Although debate continues, there is emerging consensus that the key defining feature is that emotions are responses to events or circumstances – they are “about” something.

  • They are intentional states, in the philosophical sense, meaning they are directed toward the environment. People do not just feel happy or angry – they feel joy about a recent meaningful success or they feel angry about an insult. Thus discrete emotions include those states that are separable and identifiable responses to specific events or conditions. These responses can include emotions that are positive or negative and intense or mild, such as anger, joy, boredom, pride, and love. 
Heather C. Lench (Ed.) 
The Function of Emotions 

  • To make simple the complete definition, an emotion is considered an advanced mental state that involves 3 distinct components: a subjective situation, a physiological response, and a behavioral or communicative response. 
  •  We avoid the difficult conversation with our colleague; we explode at a loved one; and we helplessly go through an entire bag of cookies and have no idea why. When we deny ourselves the permission to feel, a long list of unwanted outcomes ensues. We lose the ability to even identify what we’re feeling—it’s like, without noticing, we go a little numb inside. 
David M. Buss 
The Evolution of Desire: … 
  • But here’s the twist: pets don’t feel emotions. And before you find yourselves defending a hill marked MY CAT LOVES ME, it’s not just pets. Humans don’t feel emotions, either. Emotions are just a bunch of feelings that English-speaking Westerners put in a box around two hundred years ago. Emotions are a modern idea—a cultural construction. The notion that feelings are something that happens in the brain was invented in the early nineteenth century. 
Richard Firth-Godbehere 
A Human History of Emotion:… 

  • Our emotions are a big part—maybe the biggest part—of what makes us human. And yet we go through life trying hard to pretend otherwise. Our true feelings can be messy, inconvenient, confusing, even addictive. They leave us vulnerable, exposed, naked to the world. They make us do things we wish we hadn’t done. It’s no wonder our emotions scare us sometimes—they seem so out of our control. Too often we do our best to deny them or hide them—even from ourselves. •
  • It is that emotions are most typically caused by evaluations - psychologists also call them appraisals - of events in relation to what is important to us: our goals, our concerns, our aspirations. Emotions may include bodily changes such as a glow and smile of happiness, the pounding heart of anxiety, the clenched fist of anger. Indeed, William James argued that an emotion is the perception of any such bodily change. 
  • Emotions are based on what we know, and they include thoughts, sometimes obsessive thoughts, about what has happened or what might happen next. Emotions also often create in us urges to act in an emotional way in relation to someone else: we might feel an urge to hug that person or to stomp out of the room. Emotions give life its urgency. They are, as Nico Frijda has said, states of immediate readiness to act. 
Keith Oatley 
Emotions: A Brief History 

  • Our emotions, according to the classical view, are artifacts of evolution, having long ago been advantageous for survival, and are now a fixed component of our biological nature. As such, they are universal: people of every age, in every culture, … 
  • Even after a century of effort, scientific research has not revealed a consistent, physical fingerprint for even a single emotion.
  •  … a radically different explanation for emotion comes to light. In short, we find that your emotions are not built-in but made from more basic parts. They are not universal but vary from culture to culture. They are not triggered; you create them. 
Lisa Feldman Barrett 
How Emotions Are Made 

 Seems like that our emotions are involved in everything we choose and do! If you don´t feel anything, you belong to a Neurotribe whose members don`t know and don´t feel emotions (or they  are completely numbed out!). That may somehow complicate your dealings with the humans who belong to the more numerous Neurotribe whose members come and function with an embedded software of emotions and/or feelings. And anything and everything may create nice or less nice feelings, depending on your personal preferences! Music is one of these "things" that induce a positive emotional experience (again, depends on the music and your very subjective taste). Just enjoy the emotional experience that different cultural products offer you!

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4 - Emotions 1

1.1 – Visual example of how emotions are evoked   First test: If you don’t sense or feel anything moving in your body-mind unit after having...