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Why We Control Our Emotions

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posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 06:05 PM
Imagine a world in which everyone just acts out what they feel without reflecting on the nature of their actions. Imagine that world. Now wake up, because that is sort of the world we already live in. People act, but act without giving a damn about what may be going on beneath their conscious attention.

What Influences Attention?

One of the things psychoanalysis, cognitive science, and evolutionary theory has done is give us very plausible explanations for why human beings act as they do. Neuroscience in particular has given us an absolutely crucial concept: you are what your brain does. Now, this is not meant in the neuro-reductionist sense of meaning consciousness is the brain, and thats all it could possibly be. But it does agree and affirm that everything we consciously experience has a neurological correlate. This being the case, what we experience as quality, also has a direct relationship with what can be measured quantitatively. This is an important and crucial insight. Human beings, by studying and measuring relationships using fMRI and computer technologies the ability to make one on one correlations between a psychological phenomenon and its associated neural networks.

So, what mediates attention?

Again, so what is it that mediates our attention? First, we need to go back to our childhoods and even earlier to our in utero days. Back then, we were nothing "but"; what is the "but" that we always ascribe to "just so' situations? Already, before birth, the mother and fathers DNA provides a basic "outlook" to the organization of the future fetus. When the chromosomes combine and a sex is selected, the chromatin factors from each parent assume a form - possibly by chance; but with each and every day the mother lives with her fetus, what she eats, what she thinks, have subtle hormonal and chemical affects as "signals" which create chemical reactions with the genes directing ontogenesis (or physical development); a stress hormone present just so happens increases the odds that a gene coding for dopamine might add a few extra alleles, in effect making the produced product - more easily made, and thus more prodigious in the nervous system. In short, dopamine equals arousal; the more of it you produce, the more easily aroused you are made by any particular stimulus.

Mothers habits, coming from her own history, just like this one being described, combines with factors in her environment, other people, in determining the 'epigenetic landscape' of any individuals development.

For example, there is said to be a bias that becomes activated when a disadvantaged group, for example, women, are reminded of a certain prejudice or bias about them. They could be told that men are more competitive and more intellectual, and so by being told that, unconsciously, they begin to adapt themselves toward it. This has been tested by many different groups of experimental psychologists and it's been vindicated again and again.

So why this reaction? What is happening in the mind of a woman who upon hearing something about her supposed 'inferiority', somehow, without her knowing, enacts a bias that otherwise would be obviated if she were never told the bias to begin with.

Unconscious Emotive Networks

When we talk about cognition's, we are really talking about emotions. When a bias appears somewhere, yes, there is an 'evolutionary' reason for its existence, I'm sure at one level, we can agree that any particular bias men or women possess is a result of hormonal differences that cause 'early' biases to become hardened and elaborated biases by culture and society.

But these biases grow fast and hard and they take and shape the mind of every individual. We can't stop it because were obviously genetically inclined by evolution to assume the form implied by the system of the physical organism. Yet I do not agree with reductionists, whom I personally feel simply lack the self awareness needed to make out different ontologies in human awareness. A witness, or 'observing consciousness, stands outside every one of our experiences; implied, already, as the mind which reacts to stimuli and interacts, as it were, with a mental object whenever it becomes aware of something..

Unconscious emotive networks simply means the 'unconscious emotion' once experienced in the past. Lets look at this quantitatively. Neuroscience has learned that certain chemicals (dopamine and noradrenaline) produce 'big electrical waves' in the brain, such as gamma waves (waves that produce 40 or more revolutions in a second). But these waves are produced down below the cortex, in the periaquductal grey, and especially the hypothalamus. Its from these regions that the initial 'spikes' - or "depolarizations" within neurons, happen, and it is from these particular spikes that the phenomena of consciousness take on their existential forms.

Emotion is the 'system' of our conscious experience. When we experience something, it is the 'emotional networks' within the dopamine, noradrenaline, and other such systems (serotonin, HPA axis etc) that regulate the 'arousal'; and so it is THESE networks, tagged consciously by certain relevant stimuli - such as the suggestion of woman being poorer at something - that are activated when a woman conducts a test.

posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 06:11 PM

The Revenge of Patriarchy

But what exactly is it, experience-wise, are we talking about? First, lets take a look at what success means in this culture. Most people ay not know this, but this society we live - its structure as economic practice, which forces certain cultural practices - is thoroughly patriarchal.

What do I mean by this? First, there are two basic 'cultures' within humanity. The emotions which arise naturally and spontaneously within women, and those which arise within men. The difference, it seems, appears to be testosterone, which behaviorally speaking, means competitiveness and aggression. Both men and women produce testosterone, and women with high levels of testosterone in their blood also report being more aggressive; but obviously, testes produce testosterone, so men have much more of it.

In an unenlightened world, the default state appears to be patriarchal, because men, being the physically larger and behaviorally more aggressive sex will force the 'system' or culture to assume a 'male dominant' inclination. It is inevitable; but there are instances of societies in small band hunter-gatherer groups as well as particular isolated cultures of values that we would call 'feminine'. It pains me, at some level, to even make 'distinctions' like this, but compassion, in as much as it is a fundamental need of human caregiving, has made the experience of empathy more easily available to women, because women are the actual ones forced by experience to grow and give birth to a child, which they then need to love and support if that childs to survive. All of this is the result of unconscious patterning over hundreds of thousands of years, but suffice it to say that its pretty much a part of the mammalian experience.

Men, all of us - and I'm a man - have this stubborn need, this ever-present background emotion, to prove ourselves, against one another, and in our relationships with the other sex. Dress, smell, hair, face - we tend to ourselves as a product to be sold and offered to others, mostly the other sex. When we play sports, were acutely needing to outperform the other guy; needing to justify ourselves, to ourselves as well as others, that were strong and able.

Of course, this is true of females too, but its even more true of males, as the hormone testosterone makes these experiences that much more compulsive; that much more ‘centralized’, as it were, in the masculine psychology.

But, like the narrative in Genesis where man is treated as the project to be worked on and woman the helper, I too believe that human life on earth could be redressed as a challenge for men to escape the ‘illness’ of their inclinations. Yes, “illness”. Let me explain: in the animal kingdom, an organism that lives in an unpredictable environment reproduces sexually, as opposed to asexually, and thus produces male and female subtypes. If you think about this concept ontologically, you can say “male” exists in turbulent periods where organisms need to move to very different environments. Conversely, homeostasis or harmony, exists when stability is found; when its found, the organism switches to asexual reproduction (this is over many years of course; although some organisms actually reproduce like this; switching from asexual to sexual plants).

Many people nowadays talk of a need to focus upon and develop traits we generally identify with women, such as empathy and compassion. Why is that? Logically, were doing this because we reflect upon this current worlds organization, and we see competition, and all the iterations it creates in producing distinctions in status, class, and reifying differences by enculturating stereotypes about other people. Competition never lets us drop our guard. Its modus operandi is ‘suppress’ until it becomes unconscious (dissociated). For example, if someone were to insult me in a subtle way, I may hold a grudge against them, and so, in acting this way, I do not reflect upon why I even assumed this position. Why am I holding a grudge, I can ask myself. And I may discover that he may be doing that, giving off these harsh impressions, because he needs to confirm for himself that he is ‘this type of person’; affective needs, our subtle background emotions, give shape to the cognitions we entertain. They are a hidden screen that orients our attentions to the world.

In a patriarchal world, emotions are denied and narratives are brought very strongly into the forefront. While a different perspective, a different viewpoint, coming from a different experience they might have had (with their mother for example) is treated as if it were completely irrelevant. When situations come upon us, how often do we reflect upon how our orientation to the world – our actual conscious experience, our thoughts, etc – is structured by past relations we have had in that particular environment? Also, there are other factors, such as diet, nutrition, physical activity, all of which have subtle effects on perception. But the granddaddy of unconscious influences is our past experiences with other people. This is the strongest force, as it, ultimately, represents what we call our ‘self’, our ‘personality’; it is how we feel to ourselves; our way of speaking, our way of acting, our way of treating other people, and by implication, ourselves.

A patriarchal society is therefore also a narcissistic society. To make things clearer, I do not mean to trash males; I personally think beyond gender as I think what’s ‘behind’ each of us is fundamentally beyond duality; so why get caught up in gender differences? Nevertheless, a self aware decision is not the default one; just cause it can be discerned with a conscious act of wisdom, doesn’t mean living out and developing meaning in unconscious enactments of past evolutionary behaviors – crystallized socially as our customs – wont rule the day. So long as that ‘inner witness’ mentioned before doesn’t take over and control the electromagnetic fields of its thoughts over the processes of its physical biology.

Accepting Shame

Shame is a basic part of the human experience; inevitably resulting from our vulnerabilities, the very first one being the vulnerability of being a naked and needy infant with an oversized head and a immobile body. The infant cries – we all cried – and so treats itself to a neurologically coded experience of vulnerability. Vulnerability, psychologically, is designed to be ‘dissociated’, because the unconscious result of reflecting upon it is to feel bad; and feeling bad, insomuch as it results from a process which builds your sense of self (socializing), the mind over time, at least in the hominid lines, has done much to structure human attention in a way that experiences which arouse shame or inferiority (anything deemed ‘weak’) will arouse a suppression, leading to a refocusing upon the thing which maintains ‘good feelings’. The thoughts which accompany this are no more than riding the wave of social dynamics. That each of us is ‘structured’ this way implies a deep psychological interdependence in how each of us feels, and thus, thinks and behaves, with the other.

edit on 12-1-2015 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 06:12 PM
Shame is horrible. My brother, a co-owner of a restaurant in a ritzy village, has to deal with a larger co-owner who essentially lacks any self-awareness of how we he treats other people. By all accounts, he is a narcissist, and, like all true narcissists, denies it, or denies the importance of it, since what narcissism is great at doing is maintaining the ‘narrative’ without giving in or even experiencing an alternative viewpoint. Narcissism defends against shame. The human being who develops and becomes a person very self-focused only does so to keep himself from feeling difficult emotions that have the stench of ‘feminity’; emotional talk, self reflection, and taking in and accepting the vulnerability and discomfort of other peoples weaknesses. All of this demands a certain degree of empathy and openness; but it doesn’t come naturally; and it certainly arises more spontaneously, because of childbirth and breast-feeding, in women.

A future human society that overcomes these difficult and annoying problems in human relations needs to enunciate the importance of shame and the sense of vulnerability it produces in us. Human beings need to be groomed from the ground up; so it will be in our schools, foremost, which will lead the way in developing brain-minds that feel safe in discussing sensitive issues of self and experience. This is not to deny or ignore the fun of sports and competition. It is just to add another layer of complexity; another layer, which every mind can take on and develop, that prioritizes relationships and connections as more important than petty competitive self-focused needs. We can all be happier, and kinder, if we only learn to accept what is – how were built to be by evolution – and by doing so, truly ascend to a higher level of being; take what is good and worthwhile from this society – technology, an interest in science, a desire for sport and play – but bring into it a mindfulness of how important it is to respect the boundaries that each of our bodies and psychologies create for our experience of the world and one another.

I envision a future where psychology is a subject taught in schools; introduced in the mid to later grades, and expanded upon as students grow older. By doing so, meta-awareness, awareness of our own awareness, will grow and become developed within a context where each of us encourages its development and respect its insights; self takes a back seat to the rationality of emotional intelligence. And compassion is understood as a truly deep and powerful experience of being human. Our sense of ourselves as ‘stewards’, derives from this experience. We redeem its value when we reflect upon ourselves honestly, and do what needs to be done – to survive! – by humbly accepting our vulnerability, and living in truth and honest with other selves. Not crippled by the flame of shame. But knowing it; laughing at it even. The choice is truly ours to make.

posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 06:20 PM
This may be an interesting read.
saving for later, cheers

posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 06:23 PM
a reply to: Astrocyte

Wow, Astrocyte! That was a pleasure to read!

Yes indeed, you are a 'writer' and 'thinker', lol. (I mean that as a compliment.)

I agree with what you've written. The same concept has been running through my head for a long time, but I could never possibly find the right words to express it.


posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 06:30 PM
a reply to: Astrocyte

Laughing at self is good medicine. For so many shame and laughing....forget about it. Like Tony Soprano said "the hustle never ends".

posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 06:50 PM
Or.... controlling our emotions is a part of growing up.... maturation.

If a five year old falls off his bike and scrapes his knee, he will cry. Take the exact scenario with a 13 year old, and he won't. He's had experience with it. He knows it's temporary. He can suck it up.

Additionally, there is the social aspect to it. The thirteen year old knows he will face social repercussions for crying at his age,(the other guys will make fun of him) so he conceals it. That aspect is learned behavior.

So both maturation (experience) and social demands (expectations and repercussions) contribute greatly.

posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 07:10 PM
So, this is what Pete Townshend meant when he said he needed to get in touch with his feminine side. It's also why everyone took it as being homosexual thinking. I probably missed the point. I'll reread it because it was written with intelligence and theories that intrigue me. I only took a couple Psychology classes that were mandatory and by no means am I an expert. Thanks for the read.

posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 08:30 PM
a reply to: Astrocyte

Humans are clay, they can be molded to act and also react, socializing is the key, but what is most important, the nature of duality, which many through history and psychology have analyzed.

Duality in sexual composition, duality in ego and personality, the one thing is for sure, humans are very easily controlled, they are very susceptible to groupthink and seeking an archetype to emulate, very much not as individual as some believe, they have to have a mode of operation that drives them.

Suppressing and subduing feelings is not a natural act, it is imposed by society in how one must act, so you have the world only socialized not really civilized.

Every civilization is completely different in many ways, but hey there are only so many ways to be human, like I said, the human being is clay and is easily impressionable, especially if there are others in a social group that find certain behavior acceptable or even normal, they will follow, all the way to cannibalism to wearing the same kind of sneakers, wearing the in clothes, dressing like the next suit.... we could go on an on, but many people do not stop to think about what you wrote! I love, excellent post, starred for sure.

posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 08:47 PM
a reply to: phinubian

I agree. It's about balance in all things.

posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 09:36 PM
I feel sad that your thought provoking post only made one page. I might not be the brightest bulb in the house but at least I try to better myself. I enjoyed your work and the time you spent on it. Hope to see more.

posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 09:51 PM
Be kind to others.
Don't be a dick.
Everything is better that way.

posted on Jan, 12 2015 @ 10:22 PM
a reply to: skunkape23

It's a personality disorder.

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 10:26 PM
a reply to: LOSTinAMERICA


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