Emotions and Feelings

For Me Ness

Some Topics

  • Fear

    All animals are in danger everyday and yet must carry on with their lives and careers as if they are going to survive. Animals need calm, functional states and emergency programs that focus their attention and mobilize their resources to deal with danger. There is an archetypal list of feared objects: snakes, insects, heights, night, and small, dark, damp spaces that may hide creepy, crawly and slimy things.  Humans are afraid of capture and imprisonment and fear small, closed spaces that may lack oxygen.

    Fear and anger are emergency programs. The basic idea is that as soon as a danger signal is detected, all attention is focused on the signal source and consciousness floods with an unpleasant feeling. The feeling is there to make sure you do not try to override the emergency program. The fear program is broadcast into the body via the sympathetic nervous system and the hormone adrenalin, secreted by the adrenal gland. Energy is mobilized through the release of glucose. The heart races and pumps more blood. Respiration accelerates to increase the oxygen content of the blood and all muscle tissue is put on alert.

    Fear is preparation for fight or flight. The term “panic” describes fear that is associated with confused or vacillating behavior. Panic is a confused mixture of flight and flight. A movie audience panics when the theatre catches fire. They push and shove, punch and kick as they attempt to flee the building. When crowds panic, people die of suffocation and those who fall down, are trampled under foot.

    Misslin describes the neural mechanisms of fear as a hierarchical network with the amygdala as point of convergence of threatening stimuli. The central nucleus of the amygdala projects to the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG), the hypothalamus and the brainstem that coordinate flight, freezing, avoidance reactions, submissive postures, reduced pain sensitivity and autonomic arousal.

    Fear is a strong aversive emotion and animals and humans quickly learn to avoid situations that made them afraid.

    One of the goals of an affluent society is to reduce danger so that average citizen can feel confident that they are going to survive the day. Fear is the opposite of security and a fearful person does not feel confident that he or she is going to be safe. Fear, as a conditioning state, is also generalized to associated signals.

    Humans are conditioned to associate fear with a wide range of stimuli that by themselves do not suggest danger. Conditioned fear may last a lifetime if the fear-triggering event was intense or repeated. Phobias are recurrent fears linked to avoidance behaviors that may result from conditioning or arise spontaneously because the fear program is overly active.

    Anxiety is a common but fuzzy term that should refer to low intensity fear and to conditioned fear that tends to be recurrent, context dependent and not linked to an obvious threat such as a hungry lion confronting you on the sidewalk.

    Anxiety also refers vaguely to many kinds of discomforts and dysphoria that all humans experience. An elaborate ethos of urban anxiety has developed in literature and in the curious and sometimes bizarre world of medical-psychiatric descriptions of the human experience. Physicians diagnose anxiety after brief conversations with patients and drug companies promote chemicals for the treatment of “anxiety disorders” as if experiencing life’s discomforts is a medical problem with a medical solution -- eating pills obtained from the pharmacy.

    Emotions and Feelings

  • This book investigates the for-me-ness of experiences, using psychology, neuroscience and philosophy. Everyone has some idea what emotions and feelings are but their exact nature is elusive. We can begin by noting that emotions and feelings are not the same. Generally, humans are ignorant of internal processes and invent all manner of imaginary and irrelevant explanations to explain feelings. The term “emotion” is best used to point to animal and human behavior. There are a small number of primary emotions and variations that involve mixtures of emotional displays feelings and behaviors. Joy, anger, fear and pain are pure emotions. Other, more complex and derivative experiences act as interfaces to emotions. Love, jealousy and hate are not emotions. These are descriptions of complex interactions and evaluations that involve a range of feelings and interface to true emotions some of the time. Euphoria is the benefit of being in love. Sadness and anger are the cost of being in love. Jealousy, like love, is another complex of cognitions, feelings and emotions that exist to monitor and regulate close relationships. The absence of emotional display is highly valued in polite society. Humans have advanced toward civil and productive social environments that are emotionally neutral. Emotional neutrality is a requirement for acceptable behavior in school and work environments.

    Emotions and Feelings is intended for a well-educated smart reader who is interested in Human Nature and the daily experience of humans in groups. The author is Stephen Gislason Both Print editions and eBooks for download are available from Alpha Online

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    Print Books Read Topics Download
    Human Nature
    The Good Person
    Pieces of the Puzzle
    The Sound of Music
    Surviving Human Nature
    Language and Thinking
    I and Thou
    Emotions, Feelings
    Neuroscience Notes
    Human Brain
    Children & Family
    Intelligence & Learning
    Religion 21st Century

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    The Psychology, Philosophy, Neuroscience series of books was developed by Persona Digital. The books are copyright and all rights to reproduction by any means are reserved. We encourage readers to quote and paraphrase topics from Emotions and Feelings 2017, published online, and expect proper citations to accompany all derivative writings. The author is Stephen Gislason and the publisher is Persona Digital Books, Sechelt, B.C. Canada.