Feelings are For-Me-Ness
There is a tension in us that will never completely go away. Feelings are
polarized from negative (dysphoria) to positive (euphoria). Feelings are mixed
with cognitions to arrive at the for-me-ness or the salience of experiences.
Negative feelings are associated with aversive behaviors that encourage us to
avoid illness, injury and death. Positive feelings are associated with seeking
behaviors that encourage us to find good food, clean water, safe places to rest
and nice to people to share all of the above.
Composite feelings such as tenderness and concern lead us to consider the
feelings of others and encourage us to share advantages that bring happiness.
Feelings are conscious experiences that are real and important but have the
elusive quality of all inside experiences – only I experience my feelings. You
can guess my feelings by watching my behavior or hearing my description of what
it feels like inside. Feelings vary from a low rumble in the mix to the
turbulent inner state associated with all-consuming emotions such as rage.
Feelings tend to be short-lived; minutes rather than hours or days. Humans
often cannot localize the source or the effects of their feelings and tend to
blame others whenever they are not feeling well. Humans tend to become emotional
when they are not doing well.
Feelings are evanescent and can change abruptly. Criticism, an angry remark
or an insult can switch a happy person to an angry person in seconds. An overly
sensitive person may walk away from an argument in deep despair and may want to
die. Drastic “thinking” is common. Pessimistic, sometimes nihilistic,
thoughts are attached to the ancient feeling of dread. The occasion is usually
some threat to your status in a social group.
Humans are usually tuned into behaviors that suggest other people have
feelings. The sense of other people’s feelings is described as “empathy” A
sensitive person will often pick up subtle signals that that are not conscious
Some people talk about “vibes” psychics see “auras” and ordinary folk have
“hunches and intuition” or just have feeling responses to others. You might meet
a new person and walk away saying “I don’t know what it was… but I didn’t feel
comfortable talking to that man.” Insensitive people are not aware of others
people’s feelings, are socially inappropriate and can be dangerous. Humans who
routinely hurt others tend to have little or no empathy and injure or kill
others with no hesitation or remorse. Even sensitive people who are capable of
empathy have a range of sensitivity and can be remarkably kind and responsive to
some and insensitive to others.
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
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