Emotions and Feelings

For Me Ness

Some Topics

  • Eigenstates

    I use the term “eigenstate” to refer to the different self-states or personality states that each person occupies at different times. Eigenstates are bundles of thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviors. One eigenstate may be remarkably different to another producing a splitting of personality effect. Human descriptions tend to split the world into two-state sets or dichotomies; good-bad, high-low, happy-sad, peaceful-violent, introvert-extrovert, euphoric-dysphoric, and so on. We can make use of two-state descriptions without really believing that the world is split into two opposing camps. In our moments of clearest understanding, we realize that the world is really an integrated, seamless, whole-system in constant flux.

    Molecular signals and switches are useful devices when we try to explain how and why a person will change mental and behavioral states abruptly. Many patients describe splitting as if they had two or more personalities. Each personality may be thought of as an eigenstate or a collection of states that tend to merge. The transitions between the eigenstates can vary from abrupt to smooth. Transitions occur at different frequencies. Eigenstates can be stable or unstable. States and transitions have different energy values from hot to cold. Abrupt transitions between two opposite eigenstates are "flip-flops". The worst person to be or to deal with has hot, frequent transitions among unstable eigenstates.

    A "normal' eigenstate is the most stable, integrated state a person has. A "normal" person will occupy this state more often than not and will develop smooth, regular transitions to other eigenstates. Anger is the most common mechanism of abrupt eigenstate change. If transitions are more or less predictable, a person is thought to be stable and reliable. To remain normal, consistent information must be passed from one eigenstate to another to assure continuity of the person. This information may be limited but usually includes enough general self-identity that the person is recognizable. If eigenstates become totally disconnected, multiple personalities emerge. There are remarkable examples of multiple personalities; two or more eigenstates become stable and strong enough to take over completely. The transitions are abrupt and recall of experiences from one state to another is limited or completely blocked. Hypnotic suggestion can induce eigenstate shifts with similar blocks to information exchange producing hypnotic amnesia.

    Rather than pretending that humans are perfectly integrated, rational creatures, totally in control, we can acknowledge that all human beings are irrational, compulsive, unstable and vulnerable to environment changes and incoming molecular influences. Several two-state descriptions are helpful, although no single two-state description is ever completely true. We will notice, for example, that most people will move between an adult and a child personality, depending on the context. An adult can read this book and develop an interest and understanding of health-seeking transformations. A child is resistant to change, petulant, irrational and demands instant gratification.

    Molecular switches may be obvious or concealed. An agitated, sick, belligerent alcoholic in withdrawal will switch to a more stable, reasonable eigenstate by drinking more of the alcoholic beverage that made him or her sick. Other drugs will act as obvious molecular switches and drug users are explicitly aware of the eigenstates they seek. LSD is a dramatic example of a molecular switch that changes eigenstates abruptly and sequentially, leaving you little or no control over your experience. An LSD trip takes you through a variety of states, so different and exotic that the whole sense of a coherent reality is dismantled in favor of a random assortment of interesting and novel experiences. Food and beverages contain a variety of molecular switches that are usually well concealed in the course of day-to-day living.

    In children on controlled diets with parents and teachers monitoring closely, flip-flops are obvious and can often be related to eating or drinking specific foods. To keep matters simple, we refer to a "food reaction" which triggers behavior change, but we infer that many changes are going on at the same time in the child's brain. A child's entire identity shifts, complete with different attitudes, thoughts, and personality characteristics. Younger children have less ability to smooth their transitions than adults. The 4-year old child who spends 10 minutes screaming loudly and then bites her mother, shouting "I hate you" will be excused by most loving parents. However, adults displaying the same behavior in the wrong context may end up in jail or the psychiatric ward. The child's behavior was triggered by chocolate cake, jelly and ice cream at a birthday party. The adult's outburst may be triggered by lasagna, red wine, cheese, and chocolate mousse at an expensive restaurant. What is surprising is that the shift in eigenstates can be as dramatic as a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde shift. In Robert Louis Stevenson's story of flip-flop transitions between two states, Dr. Jekyll swallows a liquid potion (might as well be rum and coke) and undergoes a startling metamorphosis. He painfully transforms into Mr. Hyde, a sociopath who kills women in fits of rage. In movie versions, the transformation includes a physical change with rapidly growing hair, muscle hypertrophy and enlarged canine teeth. In real life, the transformation occurs invisibly in the brain.

    This is not just a fictional story of an improbable transformation, but is also a dramatization of a common path to violent behavior – by the ingestion of molecular switches. The children we observe doing flip-flop, food-triggered personality shifts, also have fits of rage, and the worst afflicted display frighteningly aggressive behavior, attacking other children or their parents. Children's temper tantrums can be fully developed rituals of hate, violence and self-destructive behavior and often contrast remarkably with the "normal" state. The children who continue to be volatile and flip-flop in an uncontrolled fashion soon get the reputation for being "bad" and tend to develop negative, antisocial personalities. The tragedy of these destructive outcomes is that it may be preventable by an early change in the child's food supply.

    Similar shifts from eigenstate A to state B occur in adults. Adults report different sets of thoughts and feelings in the different states. More insightful adults will describe distinct personalities. An angry, gloomy side may alternate with a happier, more affectionate, generous personality. The most obvious eigenstate-modulators in adults are alcoholic beverages. At low doses, the effect may be pleasant and socially useful, but at high doses, the worst sociopathic, destructive behavior emerges. We are used to thinking of the alcoholic as a split personality who flip-flops between a sober state and a drunken state. If you look more closely, you will find more food-dependent states. A sober, recovering alcoholic may continue flip-flopping by drinking Coca-Cola or coffee with 3 teaspoons of sugar per cup. High doses of coffee with sugar induce unstable eigenstate shifts. Food dhrmicals are milder versions of cocaine and amphetamines that cause dangerous flip-flops and paranoia in chronic users.

  • 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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    Pieces of the Puzzle
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    I and Thou
    Emotions, Feelings
    Neuroscience Notes
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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.