THE BOOK – PART 1
A Few Whys : Different Perspectives
1A.CHARTS 1 to 3
Excitement and Anxiety;
Change in wellbeing;
Physical (P) Environment
Social (S) Environment – ego,
Intellectual (I) Pursuits
Empathic (E) Pursuits
Mood Congruent Thoughts
Belief Systems about Self (what others + you think, self-esteem)
1B.EXPANSION of a THEORY
The Consequence of Desire
The Very Essence of What is Being Suggested.
The Gross Oversimplification of it all.
Route of Automatic Thoughts
Spontaneous Thoughts must follow Mood
Spontaneous Thoughts could only follow Mood
We learn more than we are aware of
The Phenomena of Compensation and Generalisation
The Essence of Pleasure
Pleasures of the Senses – genetic
Scissors Paper Stone
Why Everything Hinges on the Instant
Why Cruelty is not a rational option.
AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO PERSONALITY
Introducing the Monkey
In this piece of work ‘rationalization’ of human behavior is attempted. There is every attempt to avoid vagueness, however quite often, for the sake of communication things will be simplified in a way that may compromise its explicitness. The logic though of each step will hopefully still remain evident.
Much of the limitations of the book stem from the limited ability of a writer to in the dual pursuit of clarity and readability. You deserve sympathy. Before commencing on the substance let us consider the holes, or gaps in the argument.
The missing link in this theory admittedly is kind of big and concerns consciousness. This is the phenomenon through which you are aware of your own existence. The problem here is that I haven’t the faintest idea how this occurs. As far as I know, no one else does either. This could be seen as a minor problem, however we might suspect that even if the explanation of it was presented on A4 paper no one would understand it, bar perhaps Einstein and Newton.
Without this missing theory we are not going to get anywhere trying to understand how emotions come into consciousness. However given that you accept that you do exist ( ‘I think therefore I am’) , and that (1) you are willing to accept that we all do have feeling and that (2) they are essentially similar then we are onto a winner.
Beyond these blind spots lie the origins of this theory. The fundamental hopotheses concern the question 1) when are certain types of emotion are felt, and 2) what are the situations in which we feel pleasure. These hypotheses are illustrated in diagrams 1. and 2. respectfully.
The second hypothesis is the one that I wish to deal with first. In essence it asserts that an act planned and executed accurately produces pleasure. Now when we talk of an ‘act’ we are not talking about a huge complex gesture like building a bridge (though this is indeed does consist of many acts). What is meant is the sort of minor acts that fill up the seconds; opening a bag, smiling at a neighbour, or deciding to turn left or right at the traffic lights etc. Now these may seem insignificant but in this theory they are the atoms of psychology that make up the big cheese.
Now when typing the last paragraph something unusual happened. Things were seemingly going well and the second last sentence was being completed and smugness was spreading across my face. Looking up from the keyboard which I always look at, I noticed that I had accidentally hit the capital lock button and the second last sentence in the paragraph on screen was all in capitals. This irritated me and I actually said ‘bother’ as I was annoyed. This reaction to events is essentially what diagram 1 is all about. In this, the first hypothesis the different emotions are regarded as stemming from pleasure being threatened, lost, and blocked creating anxiety, sadness and anger respectfully.
So there you have it – hypothesis 1 and 2. Both are probably genetically determined creating hardware of human existence. They it seems to me are immutable aspects of what it is to be human.They form the basis for much of what follows now…
A Few Whys
So why ‘integrated’? Well at present the ways people look at psychology fall into different camps;
- Psychodynamic – sees patterns and mechanisms in human behavior, and stresses the importance of the unconscious. The founder of this school and of modern psychology is Freud. He may have had a repulsive beard and embarrassed his granny by asking her sex life, but he is cleverer than he seems.
- Cognitive theories emphasize the importance of thoughts. The father of this school is Beck.
- Behavioural ideas concentrate on the importance of learning. This school has its founding fathers Pavlov and Skinner doing various strange things to rats using electricity, wire, and crocodile clips (these men will do anything to prove their point)
- Biochemical theories look to chemicals to explain events and changes. No father figure here, though like poetry many romantic contributors. Lately the doctors, chemists and Pink Floyd fans have thrown up many converts. Far out man.
- Neurological. Many think that the brain has something to do with emotion, though this is surely not so self-evident? It’s apparently a load of cells as (neurons) which constitute white and grey matter. I would expand on this but actually they don’t really know much more.
- Humism. An influential philosopher of the 18th century, David Hume expressed a view that people came to the conclusion of one thing causing another if they experience one following another enough times, despite having no absolute proof. It has been shown all knowledge stems from this.
- Actors. In several acting schools around the world they will tell you that emotion comes from the gut ‘ right there love, just below your solar plexus.’ They’re actually talking crap.
- Computational Theory. This states that information and computation reside in patterns of data and in relations of logic that are independent of the physical medium that carries them. This insight, first expressed by the mathematician Alan Turing, the computer scientists Alan Newell, Herbert Simon, and Marvin Minsky, and the philosophers Hilary Putnam and Jerry Fodor, is now called the computational theory of mind.
This integral theory should talk about them all as if they’re all in one big happy system, with the exceptions of the neurological and dramatic schools.
So to summarize so far. Three big holes in the theory 1) consciousness 2) the brain, and 3) emotion. Apart from that I hope I’ve not left anything out.
So why bother? Why bother going to all the trouble of splitting hair after hair and trying to write an instruction manual on an organ everyone knows how to use. Why examine things at the atomic level when you could be out with the love of your life or having a few drinks with your mates. Perhaps I am writing this book because I actual have no mates? It would be possible to get all serious and discuss tragic and important things but I’m not going to. Let’s instead switch our attention to the monkey.
The monkey sits on a mound eating a banana. He’s happy. He’s the monkey.
The monkey sees a basket. He’s curious, he doesn’t really understand. He’s the curious monkey (tell me if I’m annoying you)
He approaches the basket and looks inside and sees a sugared mango. It’s bright, sweetly scented and enticing. Putting his hand through he grasps it. But low and behold he can’t quite get his hand out through the small mouth of the basket. He could I suppose if he let go of the mango.
He now sees someone out of the corner of his eye approaching. He’s shocked its a human with what looks like a sharp pointy thing ( he’s carrying a knife in his right hand) Struggling he keeps tugging. Not only is he unable to get his hand out but the basket is also fixed to the ground. What should he do? He keeps struggling.
Unfortunately the monkey chooses incorrectly and doesn’t let go. However things could be worse for monkey in the right hands makes a tasty snack prepared in the Kentucky Fried and Tika Masala styles of cuisine. Though I’ve elaborated, it is essentially true that monkeys can be caught using this technique.
People often don’t like psychology. It raises a hope and yet fails to enlighten on many of the mysteries of life. Problems and anguish still remains hard to conquer. Many often say they ‘know themselves’ and don’t need pretentious analysis. This overconfidence is itself a potential trap which can return to snare the fingers of its creator.
There are 3 possibilities when reading this;
1) this theory is mistaken/mad/meaningless
2) it has a point, or
3) someone else has had the same idea.
I can’t tell you which is true but quite possibly it will stimulate thought despite its inevitable shortcomings. Before reading further I’d like to apologize for at times oversimplifying situations. This is done only because I couldn’t think of any other way of getting the point across.
1A CHARTS 1 to 3
Hypothesis 1 – the pleasure principle that predates Freud
Events that change objects in the environment when seen through the eyes or heard with the ears cause pleasure or pain to the human witness. They have an “Automatic” instantaneous quality that has an impact within seconds.
When looking into matters deeply we will normally find a pleasure of some kind at the heart of the causality of the negative emotions seen in Chart 1. This fact has been pointed out by both Aristotle and The Buddha who are quoted in the SAYINGS of Future-Past section.
(This is in contrast to emotions that follow actions that arise in more open ended or sometimes even dreamy internal mental states as displayed in Chart 2.)
You order a slap up meal at a restaurant, but there is a long delay. Whilst you have to wait your friend gets their order very quickly and they have ordered exactly the same meal as you! : How annoying ! You normally enjoy that dish but in this situation the previous pleasure experience is critical in causing negative feelings.
As illustrated the types of emotion felt correspond to the access or alternatively the type of denial of access that the signifiers indicate to you through the senses. Various pleasures surprisingly are often not so obvious to the individual and are frequently taken for granted. Pleasures can be : blocked causing anger ; threatened leading to anxiety ; uncertain causing excitement ; lost resulting in sadness ; and unresolvingly challenged causing discomfort.
It might seem that this is insufficient to explain the array of negative feelings but if one reflects on the variety of pleasures outlined in Chart 3 then we quickly realise there are indeed an array of pleasures and an even greater array of pains.
As it happens this labelling as “Automatic” in Chart 1 is an oversimplification of the complexity, as mood, personality and previous experience can alter the emotional reaction dramatically. It is complex. We see these influences in extreme situations such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and also more subtlety in other scenarios: Imagine for example in a horror film where a young woman enters a creepy cabin in the woods and tension slowly arises due the the great uncertainties. Suddenly a small bat flies out of the corner and she screams as if she is in mortal peril and flees to save her life. The anxious mood induced in her and in the viewer here heightened the sense of danger from the subsequent sensory event (the bat), distorting and exaggerating it. This is an example how the background mood can alter appraisal of sensory events.
Excitement and Anxiety
Everyone understands what it feels like to be excited or anxious. However ask an individual to define it and you will get several different answers. Look in a dictionary and you will see the equivalent of a poll of polls, all the different things those words have been used to describe over recorded time. Certainly this book can’t add anything to those but perhaps it can divine a common thread.
There is perhaps an aspect of these intangible experience which isolate them as unique and functional. The diagram really suggests that excitement and anxiety are doing emotions.
The key feature of both anxiety and excitement is that they activate doing thoughts. They can, probably depending on how you define them, exist at the same moment, and probably usually do. Furthermore both emotions seem, it can be argued, to be activated at times when things are at stake, when things are in the making. With anxiety – thoughts, the physical and social environment, and cherished empathic feelings are under threat. With excitement new things, new pleasures are in the making and dependent on ‘actions.’
In order to be adaptable to different environments it would seem obvious that we need to choose from a variety of options. Before we can follow one we have to choose one option from the many possibilities. If we were to consider every conceivable option and every different outcome it could be a waste of time and energy since only a few would be worth consideration.
What could possibly occur is that any situation the individual finds themselves various memories from past experience are triggered, each labeled with variably potent feelings. The more potent the feeling the more crucial the experience. If one event in the past evokes a great deal of fear then that is probably a more important to avoid this than to pursue a course to mild pleasantness.
If another memory stimulates a really pleasant thought there are all the indications that that option might again bring a delightful result.
Change in Well-being
Before entering into an option the individual needs to consider just how that action will probably make one feel. It’s a bit like dipping ones toe into an event before committing oneself to diving in. No one knows for sure of course but probably, a number of different options are considered and the most emotion stimulating and relevant ones enter one’s consciousness.
The individual’s personality may play a role in which option is experienced as most potent. An anxious individual may experience events more anxiously and the individual may be biologically predisposed to yielding most easily to the anxious thought. We have all experienced ups and downs in our lives, and perhaps times of worry or calm. It may be your experience as mine that when I am in a ‘sad’ mood sad thoughts enter my head much more frequently. In a similar way perhaps a personality may have a bias towards a certain emotion.
When matching planned action to the actual event pleasure is gained. This is essential as most actions only lead to another action not directly to the final goal; it takes a lot of work to reap the crops.
A by-product of this love of activity are a lot of apparently ‘purposeless’ tasks such as juggling, pets, hobbies etc. However due to the decreasing pleasure on repetition of a task (habituation) the human is in constant search of new activities to perform. This search lasts the whole of ones life.
One of the pleasant things about having a faith is surely that in situations where one feels passive through interaction with an all powerful third party we might influence our situation.
There is an inner reluctance in most people to admit to the activity of denial, and yet should it really surprise that it takes place? After all many of the things we believed when younger turned out not to be true, didn’t they? Also many of the things that most societies have believed in the past has had a similar fete (witches, the flat world). Why then should we believe we live in charmed times? Wouldn’t it really be surprising if all the people of the world with their dramatically opposed moral, religious, and political views all turned out to be right. O.K, I’m being sarcastic, there is no way surely in which the vast majority can be correct about their most deeply held views.
This phenomena of denial could be summarized by the saying ‘a bad workman blames his tool.’ It may seem strange that a being with the potential for rational thought should engage in such blinkered state. However as stated above there is the possibility that it is only the facade of rationality. The main drive is to be happy and by putting self-esteem on a pedestal then activity is prioritized.
The drawback therefore is the tendency to have a skewed opinion of the world which in time proves a poor model. One may ask where there is no gain in blaming themselves then why do it? Well the answer is simply that there is potential gain – a point that will be discussed later on.
It may seem that denial is an intricate contrived mechanism that goes to great lengths to shield the mind. This I feel is in fact the exact opposite of the truth. Denial surely represents the path of least resistance. For the brain to prioritize truth would be as surprising as seeing a river flow over a hill, or a drop of water on a rainy day taking a straight route down a window pane. It would be silly to suggest the drop rejects or ‘denies’ the straight path, wouldn’t it? Perhaps thoughts take the most excitable route and explode across the mind like a string of biochemical Chinese firecrackers? Just don’t ask me to prove it.
David Hume in his book ‘A Treatise on Human Nature’ describes how thoughts are connected to other thoughts by 3 different things;
2) Time and Place – Congruity
3) Cause and Effect
Such connections can lead one thought or proposed action to lead to emotions concerning another connected matters to be felt. To make things clearer here are some examples
1) If a man who is scared of snakes decides to buy some eel he may experience anxious feeling. This I am sure you can understand comes from the similarity in appearance of snakes and eels.
2) A man who likes women may find that high heels on their own start to become appealing. This would be due to the previous congruity of women and high heel shoes.
3) Someone who has vomited after eating peanuts might have negative thoughts when offered ‘crunchy nut cornflakes.’
All these three are examples of triggered associations.
Sensation of the physical world has through common experience been found to be pleasurable. Taste, smell, beautiful sights are all instantly recognizable forms of pleasure. On chart 3 the bodily sensations are placed differently to the external senses however this is simply a matter of design because logically they can be regarded as both supplying the brain of information (often pleasant or unpleasant) concerning the physical world.
What is less obvious is the pleasant quality of changing sensation though again it is common knowledge that people seek ‘stimulation’ by which they mean changing sensation. If you think back to the first time you saw a kaleidoscope. Imagine that an older sibling puts one to the eye. It is for most children pleasant and pretty just to look at. Just imagine now the sibling rotates the end so that the colours inside keep changing. This usually is even more exciting which is why I suggest the capacity to turn the end exists.
+ Bodily, and Sensation
It seems that from birth children are aware of their surroundings and interact with the physical world in an emotional way. There is not anything to be added about development that is not already known apart from the suggestion that 1) willed physical actions might be pleasurable acts in themselves, and that 2) certain sensory experiences are pleasurable eg. food, water, breath. Other than this it is an established truth that reflexes exist which neuronal cicuitry can account for – a good example would be the suckling reflex.
It would be possible to conceptualize pleasure in successful controlled movement itself as a reflex response. It is conceivable how more complex movements might evolve through experimentation, reward, and memory mechanisms.
The senses pick up changes internally and externally and there is no reason to suppose that like the adults babys don’t experience some changes as pleasurable, such as the taste of milk. Therefore actions that lead specifically to these pleasurable stimuli might be remembered and occur more often as the rewarding pleasurable stimulus ‘reinforces’ the action.
A Complex Social Features
As you can see from diagram 3 I suggest that there are a number of social features that can be seen as goals in themselves and something to get happy about. For example if someone gets the top mark in the class in an exam then this leads them to have conscious or unconscious sense of one’s intelligence and this would give one a buzz. I do not suggest that this is like the pleasure that is experienced from tasting say sweet fruit, that this is something that arises from a genetic origin. Perhaps however that it comes out of a number of sources which I will now discuss, taking intelligence as an example ‘social feature.’
- there is the EXPERIENCE of thinking. The pleasure that is derived from a successful thought that banishes the unpleasant feeling of confusion. This mainly unconscious experience and memory is common to almost all of us. Being ‘clever’ is inextricably linked to this experience. It symbolizes and triggers these good time memories.
- people who are ‘clever’ in our experience may gain control over things that may fluster many of us, say with experiences with the video,or talking to Frenchman on holidays in French. Thus we learn through EMPATHY that cleverness can be empowering and have status.
- because of the above two factors the phenomena of ‘cleverness’ develops CULTURAL status in the developed world (or more specifically what we consider the aspects constituting cleverness to be). Thus the knowledge that others respect your power triggers powerful pleasant statements about oneself, which in turn trigger associated feelings we have had when involved in powerful acts.
- because of the above three factors cleverness is probably something that our parents and our teacher have TAUGHT us is a feature worth striving for. As the teacher reassures own anger associated doubts by imposing them on others. For example ‘ignorance’ in a teacher causes irritation + stress at himself. When he sees ignorance in others these experiences of ignorance are triggered. ‘Ignorance’ becomes a symbol which arouses irritation and stress. His life has indicated that it is a legitimate criticism to make of others.
So imagining a situation where a pupil displays ignorance, the teacher feels justified in criticizing him/her. After criticizing, the irritation is relieved by social/physical/intellectual control as he lectures the class and sets them homework. Now a poor result irritates the teacher as his control is challenged by the bad pupil who is chastised in an angry fashion, his anger fueled by memories of his own lack of prior control.
Now I have chosen ignorance but I could have used laziness(p), unpunctuality (s) or bullying (e). All are taught from an early age to be wrong. Ultimately then people learn to instinctively understand that ‘cleverness’ is a ‘good’ feature, a source of pleasure that enables one to influence others, gain respect and get admiration. This occurs through associations of ‘stupid’ actions with punishment of various sorts and rewards for cleverness from an early age.
- Lastly but not least, AWARENESS of this admiration in others (real or imagined) triggers positive thoughts in the individual about themselves. Thoughts that induce the associated feelings of power and therefore pleasure. But of course this is but the final end result of a number of psychological features all originating from the fact that thinking is a pleasurable event. The pleasure of thought thus leads to cleverness being a quality that is pursued on the crest of a moment to moment stream of consciousness.
There are other essential pleasures of course other than intellectual control, namely having physical control over object and your environment, understanding others feeling through empathic control, and controlling other people (social control).
Subsequently there are qualities that are socially desirable corresponding to the above, namely being agile and strong, being popular, and being charming. Each is emotionally charged with the experiences that these pleasures bring and the bad feelings that being denied these pleasures engenders.
As you can see all of the factors that are put forward for a feature being considered ‘important’ and ‘good’ are learnt. Perhaps we are in addition genetically predispositioned to recognize to enjoy specific features, for example tone of skin, a nice bottom, or a mellow voice. Perhaps though it is entirely the result of what psychologists call conditioning – the process by which beings through experiences learn to respond in certain ways.
These social environmental positive features are far from new focuses of attention having been described as being learnt producing the ‘Ego’ as described by Freud. However the connection between these features and biochemical activity aspects and pleasure are not part of that theory.
The theory of ego strength evolved in psychoanalysis to describe situations. My perception of this situation is that some people for whatever biochemical, learnt or real reasons (eg. poor) lack a sense of power stemming from ipse and have the anxiety that goes with that. They as a result are dependent on second to second positive social perceptions, through belonging to high status identity groups.
These groups are accepted in society and fit into categories that have power eg. in this country white, posh, educated, cultured, and professional. They may become dependent on these perceptions in order to maintain a sense of power and self-esteem. As a result even if they are unhappy they are unable to change, eg get divorced. (Of course these categories change with time.)
B Emotional Control of Others
This title sounds quite off putting but give us a chance man. In fact all it suggests is an extension of diagram 2 – that if a person (man X) performs an activity that creates a noticeable predicted difference in another person then this is pleasurable and reduces anxiety in man X. We all want to make a difference, don’t we?
This can be done through many ‘shock tactics’ eg swearing, teasing, having a stud in your eyeball. etc. This directly taps into and stimulates emotion in the object it is aimed at and put the originator in the ‘active’ role. Say the word ‘fuck’ and people will definitely feel something due to the monumentally potent event the word is a symbol for.
Another direct way of affecting others emotions (as you would expect from diagram 2) is to facilitate or block activity in them. To alter another Intellectually
is to teach them, physically it may be done through positions of authority. Leadership and communication involve others social and empathic behaviors.
Now it is easy to see why people still may be resistant to the idea of emotional control being pleasurable. For those I hope they will read further enough o get to the ‘2 good reasons why humans are good’ section in booklet 3.
Life it could be argued is experienced as a succession of impressions, thoughts and actions. Throughout every moment we are making connection between cause and effect, quality, emotion and timing of these factors. These experiences it could be said are stored within our ‘behavioural experience.’ Both cause and effect are stored ‘symbolically’ each symbol stimulating further feelings, sensory impressions, and an array of thoughts.
To take a simple example, one might associate yeast with flour, and may perceive yeast as causing flour to rise. Yeast, flour and rising contain a number of experiences, hundreds of sensory impressions, and thoughts, mundane and scientific. Beyond the actual symbols of yeast and flour hundreds of other symbols exist including bread, water, and of course the personal experiences that constitute a life.
The relevance of all this is that when a sensory experience occurs eg. hunger, seeing a bakery visited in childhood, smelling freshly baked bread, or someone says to you ‘let’s make some bread,’ then these symbols will be triggered and desire will be created out of this. Of course with any of these above, thousands of other symbols will be stimulated and compete within subconsciousness presumably for attention. You might end up quickly rejecting ‘bread thoughts’ knowing that chip thoughts lead to more pleasurable events.
As life is lived experiences and consequently desires become more intricate and subtle. Thinking about life, we go quite surprisingly quickly from wanting ribena to wanting ‘to find ourselves’ and ‘spend quality time.’ Through the interplay of sensory experiences and triggered associations (symbols, thoughts, and feelings) organization of life occurs. This is a learnt process and Freud coined the phrase Superego to describe something very similar.
The key importance regarding money is its ability to create physical and social change. Material goods can be bought and people can be hired. It can’t buy love, natural ability or intelligence, but just about everything else can be bought, or at least augmented by being considered wealthy.
Take knowledge, which is seen as a culturally desirable thing. Books and tuition can cost a lot of money and so it can certainly be augmented by spending. Because of this association wealth becomes associated with knowledge and therefore a bought education can buy an accent and attitude related with knowledge. Education often allows individuals to gain better paid work, therefore creating yet another association.
Therefore money can dominate the entire physical and social worlds we live and as diagram 3 suggests this means that there is a potent connection between money and power, as defined by the diagram.
To put it another way, making love. It is a uniquely complete act as it utilizes physical, social, and empathic pleasures and takes them to the limit. Cool.
As I state later on (under ‘compensation) I feel that the unconscious mind needs a constant turnover of acts of control. This creates a succession of acts (I,P,S,E), leading to a level of calm. Presumably there is a constantly dropping level of calm, a threshold below which a person feels the need to perform an act, however small. It is possible for this flow to be blocked, and the pleasures removed.
If to men get into a disagreement either of them may have their social control in a situation removed deliberately by the angry other. This loss of control and pleasure creates negative emotion. Now in order to improve mood in that split second the behavioural system throws up option which may lead to substitution. These have to come from the IPSE spheres. Options include philosophizing/intellectualizing the issue at hand, and its long term consequences (I), Being very nice to him falsely and exerting that sort of control (S), or say feeling sorry for the other person as you are aware say that they have recently been dumped by his girlfriend and suffered from a head injury that has affected his personality (E). However despite all of these options through an individuals experience of life it is often the easiest thing to punch the other’s lights out (P).
– conflict resolution
The diagram claims that it is pleasant and relaxing to have thoughts and not to be confused. This might appear a bit banal but it can be argued that it is the displeasure of confusion, and the association of thought stimulation to pleasure that create the complexity of thought that exists in all humans.
Simply put, if we see/experience things we like to have thoughts about them. However if the thought itself is painful we don’t like to think it. Also if a new thought contradicts a previous thought you have an unpleasant, confusing experience that only further thinking will resolve. Born out of these forces comes knowledge. As David Hume put it ‘Knowledge consists of information that can be gained from the inspection of two or more ideas.’
Do you remember the 1970’s film ‘Love Story?’ In it a young man (Ryan O’neal) fall in love with a young girl (Ally Magraw) who goes onto develops a terminal illness and die. It was arse. There was no thought stimulation, social comment, or good car chases, however it did have what I wish to discuss in buckets; Empathy. It was this that made it enjoyable (to those who didn’t mind the absence of the other constituents of a good film!)
Empathy I am suggesting is a type of thought, whereby past events represented by connections between emotion, social/physical/intellectual situations and time are matched using ‘symbols.’ The relevance of the symbolic representation is that new novel situations can be analyzed and understood even if they may be in totally novel experiences. For despite being new, aspects of them fit into familiar categories.
I’ll give you an example. I was staying in a Sri Lankan household as a student for 1 month in 1992. Now regularly the mother of the household would make tea and offer it to me in the morning. I was usually half asleep and undressed. I would take my time and after taking my time to change I would come and collect tea. This broke the rules of politeness as the offering of tea is very much an offering of respect and affection. I was perhaps being a bit clumsy and the son later had a descrete word with me. I was not confused as why he was annoyed. I had grown up in England and understood how personal offence may be taken through someone breaking a rule of consideration which in the U.K may be not holding the door open for someone. Relevent symbols here would be hurt, social customs, personal rights, love of a mother by her son, respect, and hot soothing drink – universal symbols in other words.
As you can see the environment, emotions involved actions, and timing were all involved in the above situation. All features were discernable through perceiving the situation in a ‘lateral’ empathic way. These areas in life are extremely hard to clarify for the following reason; thousands of memories are involved, they are of a qualitative not quantitative nature and are normally perceived in a subconscious instinctive way. Despite the lack of prominence in debate outside of the arts it remains important issue. Without it we are reptiles.
Empathy is inextricably linked with one’s own emotions. Using this form of thought makes personal other people’s situation, creating the experience that makes you feel as if you are experiencing what the other person is going through. This is achieved through the triggering of emotion. It is through this that love is experience as someone
1) experiences another’s situation,(E)
2) behaves in a way that makes the other person feel happy (IPSE), and 3) experiences the triggered feelings of pleasure by memories of when you yourself received attention and affection.
It is the last factor number 3 which makes emotional neglect of a child so far reaching in its consequences. As the individual has fewer early experiences of love to draw upon they might find loving less of a pleasant experience.
I can’t even mention empathy without discussing genetics. I feel the ability to match symbols is genetically programmed. Perhaps there is also a role in identifying emotions. The change in someone’s face when they experience a feeling is a physical event and therefore conforms to the rules of other sensory experience. It has been shown that there are certain facial expressions that are universal in the world. Could it be that we are programmed to feel these emotions when we see them on faces? Perhaps it is the lack of ability in lateral/empathic thought that hinders autistic children emotionally and perhaps empowers them in certain concrete intellectual tasks.
Mood Congruent Thoughts
As suggested under ‘Triggered associations’ thoughts can be said to be connected by 1. Similarity 2. Time and Place (Congruity) and 3. Cause and Effect. It should come as no surprise therefore if a new thought is linked to previous thoughts by a similarity in mood.
Diagram 2 suggests that when we feel predominantly sad, anxious, angry, or excited we tend to think sad, anxious, angry, or excited thoughts. Of course most feelings are mixed and there is also the suggestion that a minimal level of anxiety and/or excitement are prerequisites for thought. Also if a mood becomes frequently attached to a certain subject (symbol) i.e. sadness to concepts of self or anxiety and money, then simply the occurrence of that emotion will eventually spark thoughts in that direction,
Imagine a situation where the thought ‘all Europeans are human beings’ occurs. This I suppose could spring from a previous stream of thought or perhaps from the environment. Examples of this could be 1) your thinking about the needs of some German tourists who are about to arrive at a hotel you own or 2) say your watching a film where a general asks if the British developed biological weapon will work on Russians.
If one other associated belief is triggered sets up potential for deduction
- All Europeans are human beings
- All human beings are mortal
- All Europeans are mortal
If a thought (a) is created easily trigger the associated belief (b) All human beings are mortal, which is recalled from memory.
Somehow the brain hardware or software manages to suggest via diagram 2 the statement (c)‘all Europeans are mortal.’ This does not pose any threat to the pleasure produced by statement (a) or (b) therefore no anxiety is created only pleasure. This means statement (c) can be successfully shunted through diagram 2 creating a new belief that enters consciousness fully. This process of creating a thought is pleasurable and reinforces any natural tendency towards deductive behaviour.
Now we have three assertions, all related, that gives a picture of the world. This is I feel how beliefs are generated. Through this method a whole house of cards can be created, each new story being supported by previous statements leaning against each other on the story below. Unfortunately, in life as in cards, a vulnerable or faulty piece of work in the foundations can lead to the whole structure collapsing. That’s life.
Deduction however is not the only type of logic or method of creating thoughts. Deductive logic is concerned from moving from the general to the particular – we have an inference from an assertion about all humans to an assertion about some human beings i.e., Europeans. Another type is induction. Inductive logic is concerned with inferences from the particular to the general.
So, in order to establish the truth of ‘all Europeans being mortal’ one may wish to use propositions known to be true and to argue from the particular to the general. We may say that (a) Every European born before 1830 has died. (b) Europeans are still dying. The truth of (a) and (b) makes it probable that all Europeans are mortal. Therefore in a situation that forces the question in a human mind about Europeans and mortality the statement ‘all Europeans are mortal’ can be shunted through diagram 2 without previous associated beliefs being challenged.
Of course induction can fail as well as succeed. Imagine if someone believes in vampires have recently emerged in Europe. Then the statement ‘all Europeans are mortal’ triggers beliefs about mortality and Europeans including (1) vampires are European, and (2) Vampires are immortal. Therefore the statement ‘all Europeans are mortal’ threatens the belief (and its pleasure) of statement (2) Vampires are immortal. Therefore in this case ‘all Europeans are mortal’ cannot be shunted through diagram 2 and therefore it cannot be established. Given time it can be established if beliefs about vampires are changed. However as everyone knows change can be painful.
Belief Systems about self
Belief Systems of others and own view of ‘power’, and self-esteem. These are groups of thoughts produced out of the chart 2 process. Beliefs flow onto other beliefs ultimately to produce ‘self esteem’, which here is defined, as beliefs of ones own power (control over rewards). These emotionally associated thoughts chart3 suggests affects the baseline mood. A further description of this whole process is given in ‘belief systems’ in 1B.
In this model, thoughts, external and internal bodily sensations (eg hunger) may make one aware of a certain pleasure (eg. Food). A lack of control over this pleasure naturally induces a level of anxiety. This coupling of anxiety and awareness of pleasure could be said constitute the experience of desire.
By obtaining the desire as well as experiencing the pleasure the individual experiences a reduction in anxiety. Repeated attainment creates the realization that the pleasure is in fact under control, therefore naturally the anxiety component is reduced. Reduced anxiety associated with an unobtained pleasure leads to less pursuit of that pleasure. This last phenomena is referred to as habituation.
It is this phenomena that is surely most responsible for boredom. It is the aspect of human nature which will always lead a man or women to seek novelty and therefore go to greater extents to obtain it (often financial). Such habituation naturally lead people to keep on moving on in life.
This does not, in this diagram, refer to the instant. It does not refer solely to an individuals capacity to buy a big car (P) or fire an individual at work (S), or in fact to understand why one shouldn’t look directly at the sun during an eclipse (I), or why Humphrey Boghart leaves Ingrid Bergman at the end of Casablanca (E) despite all of these being valid sources of pleasure. It refers actually to the ability to do this over a period of time. Due to the ‘Consequences of Desire’ here it is very important to make a distinction between momentary and persistent control over the sources of pleasure.
1B THE EXPANSION OF A THEORY
The Consequence of Desire
Therefore due to the presence of habituation, and the scarcity (by definition) of novelty a viscious cycle of desire, gratification, boredom is established. This leads to 1) increased sacrifice in pursuit of the scarce, or in modern society 2) increased money spent on the pleasure to ensure a higher degree of novelty. This cycle usually leads to intense pleasure frequently.
However due to habituation leading to boredom either increased efforts or increased money has to be produced. As it takes effort in some form to get money then there is no way of avoiding a demand for increased achievement in the individual involved in the cycle. This demand for increased achievement produces the awareness of lack of control over pleasure, which is experienced as stress.
Eventually increased effort does not produce the results required. ‘Crisis’ is an inevitable consequence of the cycle. In crisis, where one experiences the feeling that what one most needs is being denied, anxiety and anger occur. Eventually sadness sets in when a permanent loss of control is realized.
Therefore it is important when looking at diagram 3 to remember that though control over certain areas is represented as ‘Power’ with all the positive connotations that goes with it, the power actually being referred to is of a long term nature where ‘crisis’ is avoided.
Very Essence of What is being Suggested (diagram 2)
The very essence of what the theory is suggesting stems from the belief that before an action is actually carried out it is considered and we, in an instant imagine what it would feel like to do that action. Secondly once that action is carried out we consider how successful we were. It also suggests that we don’t like it if things don’t work out as planned and that often we kid ourselves that either they did turn out as planned or that if it wasn’t for some unforeseen circumstance outside our control, then everything would have worked out.
Central is that previous experience affects how we feel on the spur of the moment in addition to current mood. Also of importance is that we are unavoidably irritated by factors that block what would have been an enjoyable act, whatever it may have been, a thought, a movement, an act of love, or if our control over others is interfered with.
The Gross Oversimplification of it all
Of course any attempt to represent what really occurs in the brain is never really going to uncover the complexity of the trillion tangled curly noodly brain cells. It would be naive to think that it could be represented without gross oversimplifications taking place. Any ‘true’ representation is unlikely to be interesting and clear enough to be read. Before the gross oversimplifications’ that take place in this model are explained it would like to make sense to consider what is the benefit of attempting to represent human psychology at all. The reason I feel is two fold.
Firstly just because perfect understanding cannot take place it does not mean that better understanding cannot take place. After all, by and large we all experience an increasing understanding of human nature as we get older. And in any case most of us carry a personal model of what we feel are the important aspects of human nature, even if our theories are in some intangible amorphous form.
Secondly models already exist purporting to explain human behaviour. These models are taken very seriously and have grave implications sometimes. If it is possible to produce more accurate models that can be comprehended then it would make sense to do so.
Gross Oversimplification Number 1
In diagram 2 which I acknowledge can be quite annoying to look at, one line of thought leading to action is represented. In reality it is likely that several hundred, if not millions compete for conscious attention at the same time, each in a mysterious hierarchy, most probably heavily influenced by emotional content.
Gross Oversimplification Number 2
The thoughts represented take the form of sentences. Whether subconscious thoughts are in sentence form is beyond me but it somehow seems more likely to be broken down into more basic components. It is certainly beyond my knowledge but the philosopher Bertrand Russel pioneered ways of braking down sentences into ‘atomic’ components which for my purposes can be seen to reflect subject and object, or to put it another way active and passive, or even controller and controlled.
An example may be;
Janet and John go to town.
Perhaps this could be broke down into
Janet goes to town
John goes to town
Janet goes with John
It would be wise to read more of Russel’s work for yourself, wise that is if it was not so dreadfully dull.
Gross Oversimplification Number 3
Most ‘acts’ are composed of hundreds if not millions of sub acts making up the whole. Say for example of walking to town. Not only does this consist of countless number of separate physical actions but also occurs in a changing world of experience in time and environment; for example the morning is very different to the afternoon, as is a rainy compared to a cloudy day. Even the rain itself has countless varieties.
The Route of Automatic Thoughts
(arising from SENSATIONS)
Imagine someone say is driving home from work one day and they see a cat being run over. Now they are a cat lover and this experience is a very emotional experience. It can be argued that that the the 1) sensory experience comes first, 2) then anxiety, then 3) conscious thoughts.
The following argument can be used. The individual loves cats and likes to see happy cats, he gains an empathic pleasure from his experience, which is lucky for him as most cats that he meets seem very satisfied indeed. They are good-pleasure inducing symbols. He is happy at present as this wish is fulfilled. When he sees and hears the cat being run over this latent pleasure is threatened or it acts as a reminder of previous suffering. It might be said that an essential aspect of anxiety is threatened loss of pleasure. This certainly applies in this case and as a result this person is thrown into a state of anxiety.
Now quite reasonably you might say that he knew that cats suffer already and of course if he was of reasonable intelligence he would. However ‘seeing is believing or at least triggers off associated thoughts/beliefs/feelings.
My personal view is that ‘thoughts’ played no real part in this immediate anxiety. On an instinctive unconscious level it was immediately apparent that on seeing the cat go beneath the wheel that all things were not OK. This would I would say have happened within the first second.
This anxious state would then induce one or several automatic thoughts – ‘oh no, the cat is dead.’ Of course automatic thoughts do not have to be so emotional, on seeing an unusual shaped cloud one may say – ‘that’s an unusual cloud.’ What are common to both cat and cloud examples are the sensory stimulation aspects preceding.
Spontaneous Thoughts (arising from THOUGHTS) Must follow Mood
This above statement may sound like this is stating the obvious but in fact in the highly disunited world of psychology this goes against the grain of many peoples beliefs. Traditionally the cognitive school of thought believe that it is the thought that creates the mood. Before I get involved in any discussion I had better describe exactly what I mean.
Momentary Mood itself can be influenced directly by (1) baseline mood as well as other factors such as (2) sensory experience, (3) drugs, and the (4) non automatic actions described above which lead to instant reward (diagram 3). (5) automatic cognitions
- Biological factors affect baseline mood (diagram 3) – exercise, hormones, and sleep just to name a few.
- Sensory experience such as a beautiful face and figure can initiate a good mood. Even good clothes or a nice view can make a difference which leads to more positive non-automatic cognitions.
- Drugs of course can affect mood and subsequently cognitions, for example cocaine, heroine or more commonly alcohol.
- Non Automatic actions, as described above, fall into various categories such as Intellectual, Physical, Social, and Empathic. Blocked actions lead to negative moods.
(5) Automatic cognitions resulting from events can trigger moods.
Now non automatic cognitions or statements don’t come out of nowhere. Either a previous thought or sensory cue (a flattering comment for example) may provoke the statement. Here are some examples to illustrate.
- Someone who is suffering poor sleep and has a depressed baseline mood may hear a word of flattery and assume it was insincere.
- Someone in a candle lit restaurant with beautiful food may hear a word of flattery and feel it’s sincere.
- Someone drunk may hear a flattering word and think its true when they normally would not.
- Someone who normally doubts flattery wins all the medals at sports day and hears a flattering comment about their looks from their father and thinks ‘ yeah, maybe I am pretty’
- Someone is bereaved and someone unsuspectingly is friendly only to be snapped at.
Let us continue with the cat lover;
Imagine he is driving home distressed at what has happened. He is sad+++ and anxious+ as his ‘world’ has been destabilized. The mild anxiety put him in a doing mode – his thoughts are stimulated. As discussed earlier, thoughts are linked by 1. Similarity 2. Congruity, and 3. Cause and Effect. The actual cue to these ‘spontaneous thoughts’ must come from a previous automatic thought (in this case ‘Oh no, the cat is dead).
Therefore it should come as no surprise if similarities in mood and subject matter induce further sad thoughts concerning cats. He may come up with the sad thought ‘It’s a tragic painful world for cats.’
Now the above intellectual control and action removes and decreases his anxiety completely from + to 0. However sad feelings/thoughts attached to the symbol of death are triggered perhaps concerning loss of pets and perhaps say his mother. So now he is not anxious anymore but is thoroughly depressed. His present ‘seem’ of sadness is established and he is free to mine many possible sad thoughts.‘ Life’s a lonely struggle and then you die,’ he muses.
I would argue that the above examples are the natural course of events leading to sad thoughts. A coupling of external events affecting symbols leading to the automatic thoughts/emotions. This leads to internal chemical changes which make us sad and then this leads to spontaneous sad thoughts. I reject the view that you are happy one day and then a spiral of spontaneous sad interpretations lead one into sadness. I would say that between the happiness and the sad thought must come either of the above five factors or a combination of them.
3)drugs 5)EVENTS 4)Non Auto Actions
2)SENSORY AUTOMATIC COGNITIONS
TRIGGERING AND LOSS OF PLEASURE
1)BIOLOGICAL FACTORS BIOCHEMICAL MOOD
SAD or HAPPY THOUGHTS
This argument may at first seem to suggest that people mainly are sad or happy or anxious depending on what happens to them. In fact I believe in developed countries the reverse is true. To be blunt it seems to me to be the case that most people who are sad or anxious in the developed world find reasons to be sad or anxious about their life, reasons which ultimately not logical. If those reasons didn’t exist then they would find another reason for the same emotion and then attribute that reason as the reason they are feeling why they are. In other words their thought follows their mood even if they instinctively feel the reverse is true. In this sense the thoughts are like the tail of a kite following the kite wherever it goes.
Given my above statements concerning trauma and reactions that lead to sadness and anxiety you would be forgiven for thinking that I was contradicting myself. The key to my defence is that I actually believe that sad and anxious people experience more situations as traumatic. The way this happens is inextricably linked to the way in which thoughts are produced.
Why Spontaneous Thought could only follow Mood
Thoughts must be created in accordance with mood. That is the only way life will shift in the right direction. When we are sad we may create thoughts about ways in which our life is sad. Then our minds prompted by anxiety may create solutions to these specific problems. Then things may move things in a happier direction. For example if we have had an argument with a girlfriend and been dumped by her, we may find ourselves in this low mood thinking several sad thoughts. Anxiety will lead us to new actions and thoughts leading to actions and then to a return of the girlfriend. With a girlfriend children may be produced. Thus thought following mood has an evolutionary advantage.
However if after having split with a girlfriend we have a spontaneous thought which then lead to a lower mood then this lower mood makes us less able to act in girlfriend returning behaviour as low mood and inactivity go hand in hand. Therefore one can see that thought following mood is more compatible with recovery.
– number of experiences summed up by a type
If one considers a banana, a letter ‘A’, the smell of coffee, or a simple melodic phrase it would seem that we have been exposed to repeated identical experiences of these over the course of time. However this is not at all true. Every time one sees a banana or smells coffee the experience is slightly different. However we as humans have found a way of summarizing sensory relationships in a category that can be remembered and perceived and used to identify new similar experiences and to predict and control the future.
Since they have been able to produce computer programs that do similar things it seems likely that innate mathematical processes are able to match these separate experiences. Computers can indeed recognize spoken words, identify hand written letters, and name colours.
These sensory events above and their like have huge relevance to humans in terms of learning. They are often labeled with the emotions these sensory experiences produce, or are coincidental with. Therefore it would seem logical that symbolization would be a key component in desire. The behaviorist Pavlov displayed this when he showed that by ringing a bell followed by giving a dog a meal he could control the dog’s behavior. Eventually the dogs’ mouth would water on ringing a bell even without the appearance of any food. Therefore it would seem the bell ‘symbol’ alone created desire.
Words are a form of symbolization. They can represent sensory, intellectual – physical – social –empathic events. ‘Crime’ would be a good example of this; it represents many different things – sudden quick actions – defying social judgement with non-conformity, monetary gain etc.
If one looks at individual humans we take for granted that they are persistent beings. However on closer inspection few would disagree that we all change emotionally, in the way we behave and feel, and what we believe in. We also change physically, and parts of us, cells in our body and protein particles (in our skin and muscles) and all of our water, all change. Other than abstract concepts such as the soul, what part of us remains the same? Perhaps our own and others belief in our own continuing identity, is merely a symbol to others and ourselves. This symbolization of self is clearly closely associated with our physical presence, vague underlying personality traits, and the appearance of our faces.
According to the essential hypotheses of this theory thoughts are in themselves pleasant things to do. Once planned and checked the thought, I suggest, decreases anxiety (in microscopic amounts) and in a similar manor increases joy. Given enough intellectual thoughts and given realization of control, mood is significantly effected.
Take Mr.X. He has the following thoughts
1.‘all swans are white.’
2.‘my bird knowledge is good.’
Bearing this in mind if there comes along another thought this would too be a pleasure. An example of this would be walking in the park and seeing a black swan shaped bird. This sensory unexpected stimulus creates excitement and symbolic knowledge is stimulated. A thought based on symbolic knowledge of black animals and swan shapes is sparked.
3.“there is a black swan.’ This thought creates pleasure until the cross-referencing of thoughts attached to this swan symbol produces the threat of having the ‘all swans are white’ thought threatened. When a pleasure of any kind is threatened anxiety is created. The situation is intolerable even though the black bird was only seen under a second ago!
There are now two options. One is to deny the thought first thought, or the second. If the anxiety is high probably the easiest thing to do is not to believe your eyes
- ‘Is that a duck?’
is a thoughts which could ease the problem by maintaining thought 1.
Alternatively one could say
5.‘It’s a black swan.’
- ‘All swans are white’…7.‘Oh, I thought that all swans were white.’
This last statement is tinged with sadness as a loss of a pleasurable belief is sad. Now an associated belief is triggered.
‘My bird knowledge is good’
Now this belief is under threat. This produces anxiety. This anxiety can be removed by action, possibly in the form of a new thought.
‘Most swans are white.’ The anxiety of the ‘My beliefs are solid’ can be avoided by not thinking about it.
Therefore it is conceivable how belief may be generated simply from being a) exposed to the sensory world, and b) enjoying the creation of verified thought.
Now you have here a new ‘swan belief system’ consisting of the following thoughts
- Most swans are white
- Some are black
- My bird knowledge was bad and now it’s good.
This gives a greater intellectual control of future encounters with swans rather than saying ‘I clearly don’t know exactly what swans are, but I know they are birds”
In a sense the mind goes on the thought which is most likely to be able to predict the behavior of swans based on previous samples. As the above shows, in this model all thought is held because it maximizes pleasure given the restriction of the situation. Despite the situation where Mr.X is constantly guessing about swans his beliefs are still sufficiently predictive to create the experience of control and a level of self belief, and therefore pleasure.
Now I imagine the natural reaction to all this would be. ‘What a load of rubbish I can think of hundreds of examples where it would be much better to believe in something you didn’t believe in. For example if you believed in stealing you could steal when you thought there would be no chance of getting caught and everything would be great. However if you follow diagram 3 then it is plain to see the draw back to this; your social environment (s) particularly your identity is threatened; thieves have associations with powerlessness in their past present and future – They are seen as unkind, often stupid , and with a poor background. This creates negative associations of thieves, unkind people, and poor people all creating unhappiness. In any case it is likely that we attempted holding this belief when young but were soon punished emotionally. Therefore this highlights how a potential belief can be made unappealing in several ways.
We learn more than we are aware of
We learn so much more that we are aware of. This is perhaps the understatement of the millennia. We don’t even know at the time we are learning what we are learning. Things only escape our attention if they really are of no use. Even the colour of our neighbours socks I’m sure is remembered, emotionally if not photographically.
This is obviously a bit of a mysterious thing. I know there are common assumptions and experiences associated with it. I would argue that the key things are that it is a positive mood which we wish to stay in which is associated with the production of pleasant thoughts, leading us to resist ‘fundamental change’ in our situation. These ‘happy thoughts’ I would argue involve statements concerning 1) ones own power to experience empathic events, 2) have social control as opposed to being controlled, 3) with a physical control, and 4) where intellectual control is present and we don’t feel confused.
The Phenomena of Compensation + Genaralisation
(Why We Get Scared of the Dark)
It is easy to forget that the social world consists of people who are essentially physical objects or at least are perceived only through their physical presence. Therefore in dealing with the physical and social worlds we are dealing with a common reality. In life we have to learn how to control both physical and social beings in order to survive. Literally our actions affect the faces and movements of others, though social beings react in a much more complicated way. Putting aside the fact that we enjoy relating to others emotionally I’d like to isolate and concentrate on the issue of physical control.
There is no easy genetic shortcut to the process of controlling physical and social worlds. They both vary vastly in their diversity and complexity. Genes cannot prepare us for vastly differing environments of say diving for pearls and being in court.
However there is a way in which these things can be learnt so long as the human remembers sequences of events and when they are successful in controlling objects. A process which hypothesis 2 suggests leads to instant reward.
Now the only way the mind will be encouraged to engage in controlling behavior is if it needs a level of constant reward. Otherwise the content being will have no need to strive for more rewards. This would be fatal as our bodies require a constant supply of energy through food and therefore doing nothing is an option that will only lead to death. Obviously this is not good evolutionary news.
This concept of a constant need for reward leads us to the phenomena of compensation and generalisation:
Imagine that if someone’s physical control is removed temporarily. There will be a sudden fall in levels of rewards along the physical/social domain. If there is a sudden loss of physical control this loss can be compensated through increased social control. This might occur in a situation in which an individual is debilitated suddenly by illness say. Experiencing a loss of physical power one may gain relief through being in a stronger more intimate social situation.
This is an example of how levels on control can be maintained through substituting loss in the physical by gain in the social domains. It is interesting to note that the two main periods of Jewish massacre in Europe occurred during the Black Death and then again after a period of hyperinflation.
Alternately if someone’s social control is removed, for example they are made redundant they may need to increase their physical rewards perhaps through exercise/sport, ritual, dancing, going on holiday, or violence. Of course the options open are numerous and are much dependent on what that individual is good at and what they have done in the past. Both of the above scenarios are examples of compensation.
‘Chilling out’ or ‘getting into a state’ are commonly understood but what do they mean?
Generalisation is really what people usually refer to when they talk of confidence. When an individual becomes successful in the physical domain, perhaps they are a brilliant carpenter, this will rub off on their social behavior which is likely to become more ‘active’ and confident. I would say this occurs in the combined biochemical positions of raised baseline mood (diagram 2) and increased emotional reactivity (diagram 3) affecting positive change (diagram 2). Failure has the opposite effect.
Alternately if someone experiences a great deal of social success they may feel more confident and relaxed in their physical movement, say in walking. It is quite possible and indeed I feel likely that this increased activity is extended to the intellectual and empathic world but in my experience the relationship is much less direct and predictable.
The Essence of Pleasure
The essential atoms of human behavior according to this theory are acts which change things and lead to pleasure. The acts may make changes in the physical, social (peoples activities), intellectual and empathic domains. Now this may seem extremely simplistic but bear with me! The reality is that most actions are composed of hundreds if not thousands of these atoms as well as the triggered emotions ‘remembered’ from previous experiences.
Pleasures of the Senses
It would seem a fairly obvious that certain sensations of touch taste etc. are pleasurable in themselves. Good examples of these would be sweetness, a soft noise, warm touch, the smell of a rose, the appearance of a circle (consider its popularity in design), or a good figure. It seems a reasonable suggestion that considering the universality of these experiences among human cultures that there is a genetic aspect to these phenomena.
There is an obvious evolutionary advantage to seeking warmth or eating sweet as opposed to bitter foods as they tend, in the natural settings to be more nutritious.
With smell, taste, warmth a system of receptors is known to exist and it is conceivable that these may be linked to a system which releases pleasing chemical transmitters into the brain. However it is more contentious to talk of a shape being pleasant due to genetic reasons. However who could doubt the importance of the effect a shapely figure or a handsome face has had on individuals lives? Who could deny the effects these sensory images have on mood? On closer inspection of systems it is possible to imagine how a system could exist.
It has been shown scientifically that people on average prefer symmetrical faces. Indeed there is a great deal of symmetry in aesthetic architecture eg. the Taj Mahal. The left side of an object will end up being ‘received’ on the Right side of the brain, and vis versa. Both sides of the brain communicate images and produce one unified perceived image. Perhaps in coming together a comparison of a symmetrical images produces positive stimulation. This phenomena might predispose people to look at each other face on, build symmetrical buildings and as the circle is a uniquely symmetrical shape, include it in designs. Of course such idle speculation falls incredibly short of explaining why faces and figures have such affec on us.
The above are examples of sensory experiences where it is conceivable that previous experience may play a minimal part to play in the experience of pleasure.
– A first taste of chocolate, the smell of a rose, and the first sigh of the Taj Mahal by an ancient explore would all intuitively seem to be pleasant experience even if experienced for the first time, perhaps even more so. However there are sensory experiences that gain in meaning after experience, despite being different on every occasion. Despite having never seen two identical trees, it becomes a symbol, a tendency for a characteristic type of sensory experience which becomes associated with positive and negative feelings – for example pleasant fresh smells, physical space and freedom, escape from social judgements, and peaceful quiet. These experiences are discussed under the broad category of ‘symbol.’
Scissors Paper Stone – the impact of material
The sensory perception and symbolization would seem to play a huge role in how mammals at least manipulate and utilize their environment. From an early age humans show a curiosity to explore physical environment and particularly new substances. I propose that what occurs is that the new visual/symbolic experience of seeing a new substance creates an uncertain pleasure. This excites and increases emotional reactivity (ER). In this state new proposed physical actions come thick and fast. On consideration positive emotional changes occur (‘C’ in diagram 2) due to increased ER. Poking, prodding, and feeling occur. The way in which the object change to the physical forces is processed and stored.
It is through this means that we learn about wheat dough which can be manipulated and made passive to our actions. On the other hand metal, wood, and leather are resistant to our desires to change them and therefore at some stage they might evoke negative feelings of a desire blocked – anger, irritation could occur when attempting initially to stretch, tear, or snap leather. However because a material like leather rarely falls in the ‘passive’ slot it creates an impression with great force and liveliness that strong ideas about it are produced. Thoughts about these substances are probably stored under ‘leather’ and labeled with these emotions which might constitute ‘respect’ or awe. These thoughts and feelings are evoked when these things are mentioned.
However I cannot say I can imagine the mechanism that produces the feeling of power when holding or controlling a powerful object, but considering mankind’s use of such non passive objects as tools there would seem to be one. Possibly the awe factor of seeing a knife, a strong man, or Mount Everest trigger the memories of passivity and anxiety is produces.
This anxious arousal might biochemically induce increased emotional reactivity as well as a greater tendency to act physically (diagram 2). Should domination over these items become established a heightened sense of satisfaction is created biochemically. This will always be remembered subsequently producing excitement in future as the objects are associated with pleasure to come.
Probably through exploration it becomes evident that these substances may be used as ‘tools’ to the individual’s advantage – eg.a piece of wood can be used to smash ice a pond. Therefore along with awe the substance may subsequently become associated with enhanced power and the excitement that power brings.
Of course physical substances are not the only ‘symbols’ and physical resistance to passivity is not the only kind. Of course there are also the social, intellectual, and empathic domains. Therefore someone who is not bossed about, whose beliefs are strong, and remains kind despite stress will engender awe and ‘respect.’
In desiring to involve with the non-passive one is possibly enhancing one’s own power. We all probably learn to accept the leader as a pleasing symbol as it empowers the individual in the areas that bring pleasure i.e. intellectual, physical, social, and empathic power. The basis for this lifetime habit most probably occurs in childhood when we learn to accept a subservient role.
Beliefs tend not to stand on their own but are grouped together with beliefs about related topics. Such a set of beliefs could be described as a ‘belief system.’ Imagine for a moment that each belief is like a piece in a model radio controlled aeroplane kit. Each thought is lifeless but if arranged properly the pieces make up a watertight intellectually dynamic whole, capable of producing pleasure through its power to cut through information. This is the point of belief systems is to enable you to do enjoyable things. The pleasure is mental flight – the ability to think in an unhindered unconfused dynamic fashion. This is why I have come up with this theory, in order to free my mind given what I ‘know’.
Thus belief systems are pleasurable and contagious. I feel that if a belief is not pleasurable it will not be accepted. I anticipate anyone reading this might say, ‘hold on, it would be lovely to, say, believe smoking was good for you.’ Well I would argue that the answer would be no. This would be because you would be challenging other beliefs eg. that experts know about their specialized subjects; that people who smoke more often have breathlessness problems, or perhaps that you are a rational person. Also you would be entering a stigmatized group(3) of people who disbelieve what the mainstream believe, a group that tends to be poorer, less well educated, less witty, less popular (2) and as a result seem to have less influence (1).
The eminent biologist and evolutionary specialist Richard Dawkins pioneered the concept of this contagious belief system that along with other complex cultural phenomena he called ‘memes.’ Memes include tunes, inventions, and recipes. I wrote him a couple of letters because I wanted to raise a couple of points but I guess he has rejected the ‘reply to your letters,’ meme. I would argue this was because he ceased to find it enjoyable.
The Nuts and Bolts
Hume suggested perhaps that the causal connection between events is a relation between the elements in an impression, or between successive impressions. But when we examine a situation like that of a rock striking the window, we find that the elements, window and rock, are contiguous, that is, the rock at the moment is next to the window, and also we find that there are some motions of the rock prior to the shattering of the glass. But besides the contiguity and succession of the events, is there anything else.
However when we have seen several similar instances of succession of impressions, we then begin to consider the events as necessarily connected. Thus, the idea of necessary connection seems to be involved with something that occurs with the repetition of resembling events.
Almost all our interpretations of the impressions we have – the sounds, the colours, the smells – are based upon assuming that matters which were constantly conjoined in past experience, are still conjoined in the present, and will be in the future. But if we ask for evidence of this all important principle, we find that we have none. All that we are aware of is a series of impressions with no necessary relations to each other. From these we derive our ideas, which we associate together not on the basis of any actual properties of the impressions, but because of our mental habit or custom.
These forces lead us away from unhappiness to happiness.
most potent beliefs are ones about one self
The ideas concerning sensory events – ‘impressions’ and ‘ideas’ were first illuminated by the influential 18th century ‘sceptic’ David Hume. He described the above stated scenario of sensory experiences leading to ideas. He expanded this extensively to produce simple and complex impressions and ideas. This was too augmented by the association of ideas and the imagination, which he felt, was characterized by a freedom of rearranging ideas.
Contemporary followers of Hume, however, many of them quite prominent scientific theorists, maintain that despite the manifold involvements of sciences like physics and chemistry, all knowledge essentially conform to Hume’s claim. Bertrand Russel, the great 20th century philosopher wrote of Hume’s work ‘What these arguments prove-and I do not think the proof can be controverted-is that induction, is an independent logical principle, incapable of being inferred either from experience or from other logical priciples.’
The Dynamic Flow
Hume suggested that ideas are related only by 3 things 1) contiguity time and space 2) cause and effect and 3) similarity. This perhaps is the origin for our stream of consciousness. One thought leads onto another thought linked by one of the above. Because thoughts are pleasurable they explode across the consciousness like a string of Chinese firecrackers.
It is frequently of certain thoughts to bunch together that justify the concept of belief systems. This theory regards 3 systems as particularly significant; what one estimates his power to be; how he feels others estimate his power; and ‘self-esteem.’ It is the relationship to ‘power’ or emotional rewards that give these belief systems their emotional potency – behind these beliefs lie pleasurable and painful associations. An example may be the association a person has for cleverness with a past failed exam which lead to dropping a year behind his friends some of which contact was lost with, though this is a simplification.
Like all thoughts they follow the diagram 2 flow. Ones involvement in actions acts as a cue for sensory initiation of automatic thoughts. These thoughts of success or failure will be influenced by the immediate outcome.
The outcome will effect the mood, which in turn will lead to spontaneous thoughts.
Due to the contiguity (1) and cause-and-effect issue (2) and the concept of a persistent similar self (3), it is easy to see how actions lead to self evaluation and onto the establishment of connected beliefs about oneself called ‘self-esteem.’ Due to the close association with power and therefore reward it is clear how these thoughts can induce strong emotions and conceivably incrementally affect a hypothetical ‘baseline happiness.’
Why everything hinges on the instant
Because mood (which in the moment is called ‘affect’) can change QUICKLY within a second (Chart 1) alongside more slower changes (Charts 2 and 3), everything spontaneous in action/thought (Chart 2) hinges on the instant – This is due to the big impact that transient emotion (affect) has on these spontaneous action/thoughts. After arising, cognitions are followed often by appropriate actions changing the whole environment : massive changes occur based on the momentary mood phenomena.
In contrast to this within the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy tradition it has been proposed that thoughts (cognitions) cause the subsequent adverse affect/mood. This approach usefully allows a point of attack for people wishing to cure depression and anxiety states – a way to break a viscous cycle of connected mood, thought, emotion and physiology. They do this by attacking and challenging the accessible and changeable cognitions and beliefs. However the reality is often the opposite to this admittedly highly useful ‘CBT’ approach. Moods create spontaneously thoughts (at points O and I in chart 2, and throughout Chart 3) in the flavour of the pre-existing emotion : sad moods creating sad thoughts of loss, anxious moods creating anxious thoughts of threat, angry moods creating thoughts of attack, etc. These phenomena are a fundamental challenge to the notion of free Will as these mood flavoured ideas appear in consciousness some tenths of a second after they are formed from the subconscious.
In Chart 2 when an action is proposed, within the second the emotions (positive and negative) related to the proposed action are weighed up in the mind, which acts as a kind of weighing scale. When clearly weighted on the positive the fantasised action is initiated. Again this hinges on the moment.
Sometimes the weighing scales are pressed down firmly on both sides of the scales at stage C in Chart 2 : For example when someone who is on a diet walks past a chocolate cake and fancies eating a slice. Tension and stress happen as a battle of the scales ensues.
Alcohol and drugs can alter such situations as the negative feelings and anxieties are lightened making the weighing scales tilted towards the positive at point C. The cake is consumed. Regret mainly occurs once the alcohol leaves the system.
The moment can make the difference between jumping off that bridge and backing down from jumping potentially for the suicidal, such is the critical nature of this phenomena.
The impact of antidepressants, antipsychotics, and meditation on current mood explain their impact on thought.
The reverse process of cognitions creating mood/affect can be said to be more relevant and true when environmental events occur as shown in Chart 1. The mood however will return usually back to the baseline mood after some time despite the event. That is how the mind works.
Why Cruelty is not a rational option.
Once errors have been made leading someone to be hurt by ones actions three things can happen 1) you can feel guilty 2) you can deny the damage 3) blame the person who is hurt.
1) GUILT produces painful thoughts about oneself that is kept in the portfolio of thoughts about oneself known as self-esteem. Hurting someone triggers sad memories in oneself concerning one’s own rejection or loss. This guilty sadness one has caused threatens the potential to have good opinions about one self. This threatened loss of self-esteem produces anger. Because the individual initiated the events leading to guilt the anger is directed at oneself. This further decreases self-esteem and happiness.
This thought lowers the opinion one has of oneself, in other words we hold more negative statement about ourselves. This reduces the level of our happiness and subsequently we produce more spontaneous negative thoughts about one self. However guilt is senseless, illogical, and destructive isn’t it? Don’t do it! Learn and work towards a better future!
2) DENIAL. Of course it is a great and true thing that we learn a huge amount from hurting people and from being hurt. There is also real sense in which all’s well that ends well. However how can we know what would have been the outcome of stopping, thinking, realizing the consequences and avoiding. How much do we have to hurt before we learn? Perhaps learning itself is being hampered by the belief that hurting can be good and a resulting refusal to explore thoughts?
Of course it is all too tempting to kid ourselves of the harmlessness of our actions. Holding a false belief about the world or your self inevitably make ones views less watertight, cruder, and less accurate. As a result you are able to predict events with less certainty and your control in the intellectual and social world is reduced. The result is greater stress, less control and less power and as a result fragile poorer self-esteem.
However there are surely exception where no matter how much anybody pondered facts no one could have foreseen how things may have possibly turned out. It is wrong don’t you think to blame people or yourself for honest mistakes?
We have to grudgingly admit that life is very complex and there are times when a person genuinely couldn’t foresee things happening. This is the exception surely, and not the rule. We often enter into decisions with a high level of willed ignorance, refusing to explore uncomfortable or embarrassing options. Reflection is not harmful in these type of situations.
There is a powerful school of thought that you don’t need to care about others, they should take responsibility for their own wellbeing. The counterarguments is discussed less and less these days.
3) BLAME. As in two, this is a mistaken belief for reasons stated in 3A, 6
Of course a kind act may hurt a person in the short term. It can also be argued that a ‘kind’ act might only benefit the majority and not every single individual. Given the above exceptions, by and large, can it not be said that when we hurt people we enter emotionally a long term no win situation?
You may ask why would nature evolve a tendency to suffer. The answer reveals a common assumption that what is natural is good. If one believes in evolution then you have to accept that nature has no interest in whether we suffer or not, only in whether we reproduce or not. In fact nature created the capacity to suffer and feel pain as incentives to reproduce. There therefore is no reason to think that by following our natural tendencies that we lead ourselves away from suffering.