I believe this book should be mandatory reading in high school. I do not concur with the use of drugs to treat the disorder. Rather, I see this as a calling to the US and western society in general that we have to acknowledge we are doing things wrong, and we have to compensate for our modern lives while still being the humans we have always been. If there is one thing this book shows it is that a healthy stable family, with biological mother and father offering a single message with an attentive persistence is far more important than we give credit to. It shows that our hyper sexual, hyper violent, hyper addictive society has come to force acceptance of the symptoms of our dysfunction on the culture instead of correction the root problem of shoring up the family. This is reflected in our pressure to accept abortion and gay marriage, wars and guns, and marijuana and prescription psychotics. These new policies are designed to remove the consequences (that often come unpredictable and grouped together as this book shows) for poor behavior. It shows that the way we live as observed by the rest of society and to young mind, is confusing, hypocritical, and damaging in its message. These mixed messages can lead to a lifetime of confusion and mental angst.
Judge my conclusion only after reading this or a like scientific text. Many of these conclusion are in opposition of my own self interest or that which would make me “feel” good. I can only follow the evidence. I can only recommend changes to the system based upon the feedback from the cycles.
Here is the book in PDF form.
I Hate You–Don’t Leave Me
First, so we are starting from a common understanding of the concept, I would like to define the word. I often hear or see it misused.
“1: the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it
2: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”
This is not to be confused with “Sympathy” which is “Feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.” Empathy is synthesized sympathy. That is why the two are often confused.
Empathy, therefore, is the ability to project yourself, having never had an identical (or sometimes even close) occurrence of the same experiences. It is the foundation upon which “love” is built. Systematically speaking it is the ability to feel pleasurable chemical releases associated with interhuman connections without actually having duplicate stimuli experiences recorded in memory to relate the response to. Without identical events to compare, we must “reason” to an emotional conclusion. For example, If you have ever had a shot, or tasted something unpleasant, or hitting your finger with a hammer, we can observe somebody doing the same activity and we can experience sympathy. We know how that feels, there is no need for computing or applying reasoning. However, many of us have never experienced somebody close to us dying, never experienced being blind, never experienced being destitute, then we have to reason it out using what we do know and behave accordingly. We have to think about the time we missed somebody we loved, and then synthesize sympathy via those memories and imagining that it never ended, they we knew they were never coming back. Computing how that feels and coming up with how to behave towards the person feeling that. We have never been blind, but we may be able to think about how bad we are without our corrective lenses and then how much we use our eyes, and synthesize that sympathy by reasoning that being completely unable to use our eyes would be worse. We have observed and projected that, from our perspective; empathy does exist in some animals at a lower level. (Get to “levels” in a moment.) But for the most part, this adaptation is what makes us the Superior race and species. Empathy is what makes up human. When we see human characters in an animal, we are Empathizing with them.
PFC, The Human CPU.
So what was systematically so important about empathy that the human race felt the need to really embellish, improve, and even grow the capacity for empathy? In fact, we developed a specialized tool for formulating and processing Empathy. Dan Gilbert put it best in a TED lecture I saw recently. He describe the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) as a “flight simulator” capable running scenarios without actually having to experience them. We don’t need to slam our thumb with a hammer to know that it hurts. We can take in the stimulus of the behavior, the look on people’s eyes who have recently don it, the look of the thumb days later, and the curse words coming out of their mouths and run the scenario in our heads and think, “ I sure as hell don’t want to do that!” or “If I had done that, I would want somebody to get me some ice, show me some attention.” I was yet a virgin when seeing porn and experiencing the stimuli of the sounds and looks on the people bodies and faces, added that to what I had learned while exploring my own body, and “reason” (The act of computing things that are known against things that are unknown and resulting in conclusions.) “That looks pleasurable. I must do that.” Even the most inexperienced can use empathy to learn and react. Children can use the unpleasing look in your eyes and on your face, the body motions, and the angry tone to determine that touching a hot stove will not be pleasurable. They saw you act that way when they did something dangerous or harmful before. They know how they felt when you were scolding them. Watching you suffer alone, in most cases, would be enough. They don’t need to have Pavlovian type training to draw that conclusion. (Though some people feel the need to anyway. That is called “overkill” and popular amongst helicopter parents.) That is the power of our advance PFC. It is the processor of our brains.
Empathy, A Product of Evolution.
So again, I wonder, “why evolve this mechanism to synthesize empathy?” Well you have to go back to the fact that we are social, tribal, and group animals. We are not the biggest animals. For our size, we are not even the strongest animals. Alone, we are not even the smartest animals. If we were like fish born into our environment without parental intervention, we would all die. But what we learned was that in a group, we were smarter, faster, stronger than any animal or group we encountered. Remember the Aesop’s fable about the “bundle of sticks” where the father has sons put sticks together to demonstrate their strength? (look it up if not.) Humans learned that lesson at some point. Evolutionary function systematically adapted our bodies to build that understanding. But to move, gather, hunt, protect, build, and learn more efficiently, to retain the lessons already learned and move on, Neanderthals had to develop a way to pass that information from human to human and have them retain it. It was equally important to get each other to want to stay connected. In order to do this, our brain needed a way to see other humans and feel emotional (and sometimes manifest into physical) stress and pain in order to provide the proper care. Sympathy already existed. When it was applied to the current message in the PFC and empathy was that way. With the knowledge that losing a member would make the group weaker and less smart, each member was protected out of self-preservation. Being able to predict and stop or remove one from danger as well as a desire to do so were all the outcome of the PFC and empathy.
Empathy Is “The Golden Rule”
“Do onto other as you would have done onto you” is the essence of the “golden rule”. The title of the article reflects how important it is to empathize. So in order to understand that, beyond a basic and identical capacity, how to respond when somebody else is hurt, happy, sad, fearful, lost, and 20,000 other emotions, we need empathy. We know that being called “fat”, “stupid”, “rude”, and “lazy” (aka “American”) is offensive. It is a child’s lesson to say, “You don’t call people those names. It hurts their feelings. You wouldn’t want somebody to call you those names!” It seems to be a far more difficult lesson to understand the hypocrisy when one calls somebody a “drug addict” while slurping down a caffeine filled coffee, a sugar coated doughnut, and smoking a cigarette. Even though your need to consume caffeine, nicotine, food, and booze are identical to other addictions. It is certainly next to impossible to apply empathy for the family of an enemy soldier. We see a beggar on the street begging for some change, and, not knowing a single thing about his plight, we have no means to feel empathy for those cold, hungry, and depressed. Because it is necessary to teach it, the golden rule has been a foundation of every peaceful philosophy ever contrived. It is based upon just this depth of empathy. To look beyond your eyes, ears, and nose when judging somebody and “feel” their pain, and accept that you know nothing of their experiences.
Levels of Empathy
AS promised, a addressing of levels of empathy. Because the goal of evolution and the product of “The Human System” is to create a human that is more equipped to take on changing environmental threats and continue its genetics into the future, an order was the natural result of this need. The order of preservation goes like this. The self, the family, people of the same physical characteristics (race), People of the same geographical location (country), then people with the same philosophy or religion, and lastly people of the same species as yourself. There are some cultures that order things slightly differently, but this is generally it. The magnitude in which you are able to apply empathy is dependent upon where the person you are viewing ranks in your scheme of preservation. The more readily you have access to sympathy, the more intensely you can experience empathy. Empathy is the priming mechanism used to get the connection moving and it is rooted in self-preservation. Without empathy, we would stop at self-preservation. As people become more aware and more enlightened, if you will, they begin to notice the value in preserving themselves by preserving those outside of them. No dog or fish understands the need to share empathy with people half way around the globe. But humans do. But they don’t feel as much “connection” as they do to people in their family. That is exemplified by a trip to Wal-Mart where we see endless rows of toys and electronics made under conditions that we would never stand for here in our own country. Empathy’s equalizer is “cognitive dissonance”.
The Dangers Of The Loss Of Empathy And The Rise Ff Individualism
We have seen empathy diminish over the generation. This is especially true in western cultures and cultures touched by western influence. There is a divergence in growing communities between perception and reality. Many cultures, like those of the United States, the citizens believe they are free to make choices free from influence upon the tribe and/ or by the tribe. They are unable to see how the choices and behaviors of others affect and influence their own. They BELIEVE they are individuals and self-sustaining. That is the perception. Many times Empathy is painful. In a country where there is a lot of pain, this is especially true. It is allowed because a diminishing of empathy has allowed for them to disconnect, to not feel that pain, from the other tribe members. We don’t even see a need to protect our children beyond physical harm. We often pawn the education and development of the empathetic system of our offspring on to the government via the public school system. That often covers very little of the needed education leaving the children to form little sub tribes and randomly through experimentation and chance, develop a moral and ethical system to base their empathy on. Capitalism drives individualism. This causes empathy to be seen as a weakness. Bullying, reclusiveness, and irrational and boisterous behavior is the result of pushing out empathy. The whole time these members of the tribe believing they are individuals, even though the reality is very few of them could supply their own food, shelter, and clothing without the contributions of a governing body to help. This self-preservation is not being coupled with self-sustainability. They have become too specialized to operate as separate family units, let alone separate beings. However, family units have become so disconnected that they are not even able to associate functionally with their own family members. So the populations waxes and wanes between the dysfunctional belief that they can exist on their own and calls for more support from the government. These types of societies are like teenagers screaming they “can’t wait till they grow up!!” and “Can I borrow the car Please?”.
Antidepressants and Antianxiety Medicine and Empathy.
Here is my “overall understanding” of how AD’s work. With this grasp on how empathy works and its importance in continuing Human civilization, It can be applied in this way. This is what I have “reasoned” using my person experience with them and empathizing with others. Much of the things we do are because we understand how those decisions will affect the people we care about (empathy). Why is it wrong to have an affair, steal what you want, lie to people, kill people, get drunk/ high/ or addicted, rape, spend money without reserve, lash out at people you who piss you off, commit suicide, or sit around the house and do nothing? Because you have people in your life that you care about, right? Remembering that Freud projected that most decision (including the ones you never make) occur on the subconscious level, long before they become conscious consideration. Most of us like at least one of the the ideas of sex, drugs, lashing out, taking what we want, spending like we are on vacation, making out pain go away, and/ or sleeping the day away. But we don’t because we know that our actions will cause somebody else emotional pain. If it is somebody we care about, then we are driven to do something against our immediate gratification. Depression and anxiety occurs the level of empathy is nearly equal to the level of personal desire. For example, as a high school kid we really want to stay in our bed and sleep, but that will make our mom very angry. So our choice becomes staying in bed (at which point other negative stimulus will be applied until the pleasure to get out exceeds the pleasure of staying in bed by our parents) which will lead somebody we care about being angry and sad and thus to unhappiness. The other choice is to get out of bed, which is also not going to lead more directly to our happiness. When the only two options that we view leads to discomfort, anxiety ensues as we first search for another option. If we don’t find another option, then depression results.
Suicide is one of the most selfish acts a human can ever take. It is an assault against the whole tribe. IT pleases only the person who took their life and absolves them of any consequences for their action. However, nearly all Antidepressants have black box warning about suicide. Even stranger they require a doctor to keep in contact with the patients care takers to watch for “abnormal behavior”. So an analytical mind wants to know, “Why don’t they ask the patient” and “Why is a drug used to treat depression being held responsible for suicide?” The reason is that the patient isn’t aware of anything different. They have always had these thoughts. But in the past, empathy, concern for how others would feel, stopped them from doing something so selfish. But that lead to further discomfort and unhappiness. They have always wanted to kill themselves but empathy stopped them. Proponents of these dangerous pills will say things like, “They are most dangerous because when you take them, people get the energy to kill themselves.” They are not energy pills. Many would tell you they are quite the opposite. What they do is remove your inhibitions, your empathy. The following are symptoms of “mania” brought on by the use of antidepressants.
Excessive happiness, hopefulness, and excitement,
Sudden changes from being joyful to being irritable, angry, and hostile
Restlessness, increased energy, and less need for sleep
Rapid talk, talkativeness
High sex drive
Tendency to make grand and unattainable plans
Tendency to show poor judgment, such as impulsively deciding to quit a job
Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity — unrealistic beliefs in one’s ability, intelligence, and powers; may be delusional
Increased reckless behaviors (such as lavish spending sprees, impulsive sexual indiscretions, abuse of alcohol or drugs, or ill-advised business decisions)
Many on Antidepressant experience low levels of this disconnection. They find they are no longer in love with their spouse, happy with their job, connected to work. They don’t feel the anxoiety associated with not having enough money, food, or other resources to provide for anything other than their self and the immediate needs. They don’t feel obligated to make their parents or children happy, even if they have valid concerns. Many find that lying to them is acceptable in order to avoid uncomfortable thoughts that wouldn’t make them feel good. Because if you can’t think, “How would I feel if my loved one lied to me”. That would require empathy. They can feel that ideas such as not using drugs or alcohol, spending, or stealing had “trapped” them before. They may not want to get up and go to work, but they have function enough to know they have to if they want to support themselves. At the extreme, mania can absolve all empathy. This is where personalities like that of the black widow, rapist, serial killer, suicidal, or shooters come to life. In this state their empathy system is disconnected, but they are still able to plan and very good at manipulating others. They can be in this state for months, because they are being held there by an upset in their chemical system and the way the PFC is functioning. Manic behavior is also identified with brain damage to the PFC and previously with lobotomies. These people lacking all empathy and what they desire they can plan for. Immediate and unrestrained self-gratification is the only drive.
While it may not be possible to “over emphasize”, it is quite possible to “over empathize”. Since providing empathy often results in another person paying attention, seemingly being “fixed” emotionally speaking, and building some loyalty, it is possible for people to apply too much empathy to a person or a behavioral trait. Psychologist call this state of “over empathizing” enabling. When the behavior is one that is destructive to the community this is not healthy as a form of connection. Parents need to be able to reject empathy in order to deliver negative reinforcement sometimes. In western culture we have seen over the years a rash of social acceptance of dysfunctional behaviors. Some deserved acceptance but came without understanding of a need to make up consequences. Slavery ending was a good thing for example. However, there was no consideration as to what plan should be instated to deal with the new role as members of the culture. But that is an issues for a different post all together. But generally the course that is leading to out devaluing of the tribe goes like this. First there is a dysfunctional behavior. The person(s) conducting that behavior is ostracized and criticized by the tribe. A few members unable to control their own empathy rush to the aid of the people acting dysfunctionally. The culturally damaging behavior then finds “reward” and the people who are doing the “Rewarding” also get pleasure. Now those onlookers that are weaker in character also seek comfort of having people be attentive to them. So they either assume the bad behavior in order to first draw social ire and then the relief of the attention that comes with it. The other option is to be one of those who “enable” the bad behavior. Less reward, but less risk. The poorly behaved and the enable then form a group. The group forms a cause. The cause forms a movement. The movement then calls the dysfunctional behavior a “right”. The “right” is then forced into public consideration. Where empathy for those we care about is juxtaposed opposed to what we know is bad behavior. That paralyzes those that care the most. That leaves only the extremes to battle it out. Think of enabling an alcoholic instead of forcing them to deal with their alcoholism. (This is a truly grey and fluid area. The need for occasional emotional medication has been part of human culture since the dawn of humanity. ) Next thing you know, drinking too much alcohol becomes a right. The society becomes infested with alcoholism. More deaths and dysfunctional members are produced as a result of what has become a right. Much of that “production” isn’t caused genetically, but rather a result of other members, especially younger and more impressionable, seeing the alcoholics having fun and getting attention. They seek that self-gratification. In the end not all things should be “conserved” but that is a far cry from “every behavior should be liberated”.
The Need to Reintroduce Empathy.
This is a long post I know. I thank those who read through it. But we need to go a little further to complete the circle of this idea. Our culture, and really our world, has lost this sense of tribalism. For generations now we have hardened our receptors to the feeling of empathy. Part of that is because there are so many of us. In the frontier towns where there was 1 miller, 1 doctor, 1 blacksmith, and a community of people to raise crops, any one of them missing was felt as a loss. In a tribe, everybody was trained to do everything the tribe needed. But everybody was needed to do the chores. A loss of one meant a reduction of access to basic needs. In those communities the strength of the people was greater than sum of the individuals. They were made strong, like bundles of sticks. Today, there are so many of us, we take life for granted. Not just in living it and ending it, but in creating it in the first place. If we cannot grasp what our ancestors knew all those thousands of years ago, that we are on this ship together and survival depends on us all understanding that, we will continue down this path of self-destruction. We will continue to deny the reality of science, deny that systems have actions and reactions. We will continue to pollute, make wars, and over populate. In the end, it will be to our ultimate demise. To think all you have to do is look at an addicted bum on a curb and instead of thinking, “what disgusting vile creature” you instead think “wow, I wonder how he got there. That is unfortunate. I wonder if I could help.”, is a big change. Compassion and empathy will go farther to promoting human rights, ending hunger, disease, wars, and providing peace on Earth than any act self-preservation. Until we come to understand that the human race is an organism, and we are simple cells of that organism, the lack of empathy will continue to destroy our chances at a future, the ultimate goal of any species.
The Lie The Tell Themselves
Often in the course of debate, I have such a hard time pinning down those who believe the “free market” (which is an indirect lottery) to see it is far from fair and just form of economic distribution, is because they are so willing to believe a lie. In this case the lie that the system is way more level than it actually is, those that believe “I did something and people paid me for it” is describing the subtle yet very real forces of sociology. Common sentiment are, “CEO/ Business owners worked hard to build their business” as if there were no laborers in their business. “I didn’t make these people poor, I provided them with jobs, they could have chosen to work elsewhere, and they took the offer I made them.” But that is a school of thought that so much lacks understanding of human psychology and sociology that it is darn near of the likeness to a sociopath. People believe all kinds of things about other different people that allows them to do some generally negative and dysfunctional behaviors. The consideration of other races of people are animals, or some less variety of human has lead the way to many wars and genocides. Republican pundits recently kept telling themselves that Romney would win, even though the chances for over a month before looked bleak. They had convinced themselves and their views that Obama was less than human. That he was a threat to their very existence. There is so much vested by some people in leadership choices, the thought of losing is incomprehensible. They want to believe they deserve more, so they accept a story that confirms it at face value.
Raw Examples of Social Experiments.
It is common to hear people exclaim, “Nobody held a gun to their head and make them do it.” But to think that only threat of harm is the only way to influence another person’s behavior is to reject 100 years of psychological understanding out of hand. Nobody held a gun to the “shockers” in Milgram’s experiments. Nobody forced the “guards” in the Stanford prison experiment (or in Abu Ghraib) to be mean, violent, or demean the students that were designated as “prisoners”. Many generations after the negative punishment of the Stephenson experiments with gorillas was removed, the anxiety still existed. When you have a single mom who lost her husband to a draft and a war who has to find out some way to care for her children, you don’t need a gun to get her to work for a dollar an hour. Those children witness their mother working for such low wages and when they feel the threat of financial ruin, they too accept that they have to work for low wages or die of starvation. When your other option is to return to your native country overrun by drug cartels, crimes, and corrupt governments, your option to live in a project shack, work for a dollar an hour, and collect welfare seems far superior.
What Causes One To Choose Inequality?
This is a question that in itself could be a post, if not a book. But forgoing the factors of life experiences that create different triggers and concentrating just on the mechanical meaning of the question, the answer can be summed. In order to get people to do something unjust, that subjugates them, and socializes them into something less than equal, one only needs to trigger their “Fight or flight” / fear mechanism, and then offer them hope the most desirable path. Remember we are driven by the pleasure principle. If you can control which options appears most pleasurable once all the consequences are weighed, then you can control their will. Sometimes informing them of an option they have never considered and using high pressure to force a quick decision is just the way to do it. Making a choice, even a bad one, has immediate good feelings involved. If a person made one with your help or urging, they can assign some pleasant feelings to you. Violence is only one method by which to trigger the fear mechanism. Fear of starvation, fear of being homeless, fear of social disgrace are all factors that violence cannot make one feel. Fear of these things happening to a child or loved one seems to compound the need for resolve. When that fear reaches an entire group, it spreads like wild fire. If you can find a segment of the society which is already riddled with destitution and fear, half your work is done. In the minds of many large business providers, they may even be able to think “I can help these people.” You can’t. There are no good options until they first help themselves. Nothing proves that more than the popping up of not only Wal-Marts, but “payday lenders” and now “internet cafe’ casinos as well. Breeding ever so slightest sprinkles of home for security, equality, and justice and many will flock to it like starving pigeons. People choose inequality because they feel they have no choices (and sometimes don’t) where they are equal. Sometimes the choices that will lead to equality are a matter that require the entire community to unite and work together. In those cases the few who break ranks earn reward, but at the cost of the whole community. A drug dealer is an extreme example of this. Everybody knows they are bad for the community. But a few do it because they see pleasure in it over the risks.
The Slave Example
So back in the late 1800’s a “business owner” could go to a market and buy a human being to do services for him. The term I was describing before is called “cognitive dissonance” which is how the mind justifies a contradiction. Now he (the cotton famer) could say that he simply purchased them because “Somebody was gonna do it”. Many would go on to boast about how good they were as salve owners. “I never hit or mistreat my slave. I treat him with respect, and I even put a new roof on that old chicken coop (Which I no longer allow chickens to live in) so he wouldn’t get wet when it rained. Good guy, right? So, if he has no threat of physical violence, why does the slave stay? Because where is he going to go. What are his other options? Outside the farmer’s protection, there are people who would be violent towards him or her. He can’t own land, go to school, earn money, ride on a bus, go to a hospital, or even in some cases teach himself to read. The Underground Railroad gave opportunity to so few slaves and many that it did were so afraid of the consequences if they got caught, that they chose to stay. They are Africans, adapt to surviving in a completely different environment. Oddly enough, on the day that Lincoln freed the slaves he didn’t do them any favors. Many stayed, because, where the are they gonna go? If they are fresh off the boat the only help would have been to deny anybody buying a human being. But after a generation or two here, even that is not a rational solution. They can’t “go back to Africa”. They have no natural environment that is truly “free” any longer. They are “free” to make the only choice available and of their knowledge. Before they earned the right to be equal, many generations saw and became comfortable living in less than socially acceptable conditions and by less than acceptable behaviors. Today’s projects are the results of transferred anxiety and behaviors dating all the way back to the time when we could buy humans.
The “Reality” That Is Still There In The Morning When You Wake
So there are many many ways other than direct threat of violence to force a choice on people. If there is a threat to the 3 basic needs, the mind will quickly launch into anxiety and troubleshooting mode. “How am I going to fend off this threat?” If you offer a less then equal, just, or humane option to address that threat when no other option exists or is viewed as too big of a risk, then you have control of their will. Even if they know it won’t bring pleasure, the opposite is true of the pleasure principle. “There is no free will. The path that is perceives to cause the least amount of pain will always be chosen.” When the republicans woke up in the morning, they all started organizing movements to secede. The reality is that they had backed the loosing leader, the world didn’t end, and time moves forward. But fear drive their actions. If you control the fear, you control the individual in most cases. if you control the fear of the whole community, you can have subjects as loyal as any who are captive to a gun.
The Evolutionary Reason, The Romantic Notion, And The Over Use Of That 4 Letter Word.
I recently read an article that explored that this very question. The author pointed out that we use that word to describe our affections towards everything from food to technological gadgets, to music, to TV reality shows. We pledge our undying love to a mate or a spouse for all eternity. (Which it turns out last on average about 5 yrs. in American perception.) So what is this “love” emotion and why do animals such as humans need to develop such a thing. Why is it so prized and necessary to be long lasting? What it means really depends on what perspective you are considering.
Defining Love Chemically?
“Love”, chemically speaking, is the induction of a higher than normal flood of a few defined neurochemicals such as dopamine, adrenaline, serotonin, Oxytocin, and other I am sure. Some stimulus that has been identified as fulfilling a need in the past causes us to react. (I’ll Get back to this one) The idea is to give us a “high” that millions of poets, artist, and musicians have written about. This intoxication changes our behaviors and hesitations in a notable sense to those close to us. This is necessary to make us overcome our mistrust of strangers normally triggered by meeting them. That immediate “high” eventually wears and resolves into a more sustainable stimulus chemical response as this stranger becomes an important part of our environment. At that point, missing that object of our “love” is a trigger for less then comfortable chemical reactions. Depending on how close, we may even suffer withdraw.
Love Defined Romantically
We think of “Love” as blind siding us, coming from nowhere. While simply not true, again I will defer. It is this “thing” that makes us “want” to be near and do things for another person. It is magical what draws us to them. Creating pleasure and comfort for them bring the giver pleasure and comfort as well. Words are hard pressed to describe the euphoric feeling of being “in love”. Though many have tried, as I will. I am not a graphic artist, my art is in my writing, sometimes I wish I could paint a 1000 words. I have said in the past that if I could paint “Love” it would be two people standing in front of each other with their beating hearts in their hand, offering them as an exchange to each other while simultaneously saying, “I offer you the unique ability to hurt me. I have only your promise and my faith in you to protect me.” This is about as romantic of a picture as I could imagine. I think I take it from an old pick my parents had of Jesus that was one of those ones that moves as you moved your head. It showed a similar idea.
In a nut shell, “trust” is synonymous with love. And here is a little inside track guys. (come in close, I don’t want the ladies to hear this.) Get a chick to trust you, that you will be there for her, to protect her and provide for her, she will melt in your hands (so to speak). It doesn’t matter how much, or how endowed your tools are. The world will spin. In return, so will yours. Alright ladies you can come back.
Love in the romantic sense is a desire to be associated with another person in the entire community’s eyes. They know the person that “loves” you is one of your protectors and vice versa. That is the point of marriage.
Defining Love Psychologically
Love in the psychological sense is the placing of trust and security in another person (or object). This person or object has been identified as something you can turn your back on without fear of attack that will help promote your comfort necessity level. Our minds are forever trying to streamline the decisions between subconscious lessons learned and the conscious decision. The more a stimulus (sight, smell, taste, feel, sound, and thought) imitates something we have already deemed as “safe” and “desirable” the more are apt to feel affection for it.
The first thing we love is our mothers. Held in her arms supplying warmth, protection, and nutrients she is the first stimulus. Animals of all types know their mothers by sent dominantly. These things become the basis for all that we “love” in the psychological sense.. Next up should be a father providing very similar stimulus of warmth and protection. As you learn and develop, these two people provide the image of what love should look like. This is an affirmation of the Freud observation that we marry our parents. These things that we associate with providing care and protection become triggers for our system to supply the chemicals to produce the romantic feelings of “love”. That thought is what I was deferring to. If you love and respect parents who are intelligent, kind, and conscientious of their decisions, then you will look for those traits in a mate. If you hate your parents and you will choose a more rebellious approach. If your parents are aggressive, violent, short sighted, degenerates, then so it will be that you are attracted to such traits in a spouse. Dating somebody who isn’t of your like ilk is a source of much anxiety. That doesn’t matter how healthy, stable, and functional (good for you) the other person is.
A Systemic Look
Keeping in the spirit of this blog, our emotions work like a network router. When you first turn it on, it enters this “learning” state where it takes data in and stores it. It uses this data to later determine the shortest path to achieve its goal of delivering your favorite blog post. When it does its job completely, the receiving computer sends back an “ack” to say, “good job”. If a path goes down and becomes untrustworthy, a router throws out that option. There is a building process to reestablish a path’s trustworthiness. Some routers have an option that makes no sense. You can shut down all the ports. At which point the thing is nothing more than an expensive paper weight. So it is when we are first born, we are warmed, fed, and protected. We observe the stimulus associated with providing those needs. Chemical reactions are assigned to make us feel comfortable. Then in the future we perceive the same stimulus and immediately, without conscious though release those chemicals as motivation to continue to pursue said stimulus. Somebody who provides a steady stream of stimulus that causes out bodies to produce these good feeling get out “love”. If that love is violated there is a process that must transpire to reconnect that trust factor again. If parents falter in their responsibility to provide protection and care it can cause a person who has no basis to identify stimulus to trigger the trust and love emotions.
The Evolution Of Love.
So why did we humans develop this emotion of love? Restating my primary thesis, “we are born into this world needing the 3 basics. Nourishment, warmth, and protection.” Love was a very efficient way to form social connections that would more adequately supply these needs. We are designed to love from the moment we are born. Our senses take something in that provides one of these needs and we assimilate that to our subconscious so the next time we see it, we know to desire it. Not sure how to get it at first, but we will know we want it. So as we grew and became more complex creatures with more complex lives and emotions, so too did our understanding of how to process love became more complicated. In the prehistoric days, you provide food, make a fire, and are strong enough to protect a woman she loves you. If you look strong and healthy enough to help forage, hunt, and bear children, you too were “loved”. As the techniques and meanings of providing and care moved into working land, to bringing home a paycheck, the things that defined these needs become less direct, obvious, and therefor conscious. Now, much of what attracts us to a mate are based on calculations based way down in the subconscious. The family love each other and depend on each other to become a stronger unit. Our love of “things” possessions has always existed. There are things like a spear, a flint rock, or a cave that we have loved.
Who (And What) Do You Love And Why?
Now snap forward to a Materialistic world with both parents working, divorce rates and split homes as the norm for about 70% of all children at some point in their lives. We no longer find we can trust other people to supply “food, clothing, and shelter”. “My parents got divorced, cheated, lied and contradicted each other, my spouse will do the same one day.” “My friends and schools and clicks have changed so many times growing up, why trust anybody but myself?” In inanimate objects we can “trust” to provide our securities. That food will provide nutritional security. Those sounds help me drown out physical threats. Money can buy all kinds of security. Clothing can provide warmth, social status, protection, or just remind us of some other person who provided some influence. We all long to belong, but now at an arms distance. So we associate with things that can’t leave us. Sports teams, patriotism, military services, political parties, religions, and so on. They provide this distant sense of need to belong to a community though we have long forgotten why that need exists in the first place. Believe me. Being a Cleveland Browns fan provides absolutely no security. We spend a lot of time “lusting” after things that we believe will provide us with more stability and protection. Cars, electronics, and houses we think will gain us security.
As a result of this disconnected constantly changing way of life, We have lost the ability to “love” each other. We have exchanged our “communities” of the tribal nature for close quarter, independent living where nobody knows their neighbors. When somebody says “I love snoggie (?)” What they mean is that that character behaves in a way that the person saying it identifies as agreeable to their philosophy. When they say they “love (my) I-Phone”, it means that tool makes it easier for them to get food, protection, or warmth. Some algorithm deep in their subconscious has worked out that this advances their goal of acquiring their needs.
Yes we do use that word too much. But like many other issues, it is a symptom of our dysfunctional culture/ society, and not something you can treat. It is a sign that we are pulling apart and becoming disconnected. There are all kinds of ill effects from that emerging reality. When I hear somebody say, “Love that burger” and then say they love me.. I feel like a piece of meat, or no better than.
I don’t like the Flow of this one. I will be editing in the near future. I think I am going to make The senses a specific idea and then break out ideas off of it. Only way it will be focused enough to even hold my attenion.
Man, this is going to one of those post that is hard to classify. Part fact, part opinion, part observation. I really don’t think anybody who reads this will be able to say they don’t agree. Some, many may feel that I am missing some or even a lot. I decided to make this about intimate (meaning lovers with touching on close friends) because otherwise this topic alone could be a book. But here we go.
Three Ways to Acquire Information:
Recently giving myself over to the empirical train of thought mainly, there is the root assertion of that philosophy. The assertion is that everything we know about our world, comes to us through our senses. This is important when considering human relationships. Everything you know about somebody that is factual has come from your sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Direct stimulus to brain is the most easily assimilated into the minds storage and recall mechanism. (As in the past I have mentioned that, I believe the PFC plays the most profound role in recalling “lessons” and acting on those lessons.) By this I mean that you actually experience the event with all 5 senses sensing the input from the actions related to I. If we actually experience a person with all 5 senses, we get a better mental picture about them and form “trust factors” associated with them.
This is in opposition to the second way with is to “witness” the event. The example here would be actually skydiving as opposed to watching a guy skydiving. (Despite what Hollywood would have you think, when you are actually plummeting through the air at terminal velocity and you can’t get your chute to open, there is no intense dramatic music playing in the background. But they need to feed that sense of hearing to try to get you to feel the intensity.) So you can watch a person get caught in a lie and witness some of the physical responses to the shame and guilt. However, that is not going to have as a profound impact on stopping you from lying in the future as if it were you yourself. (I will comment on forgiveness and second chances later). That impacts varies partly on how attached you are to the liar and/ or the offended.
That leads to the third way we get input. Completely void of physical stimulus and based solely upon what somebody tells us. This has the least impact and has the most chance at warped or corrupted data. That interns leads to bad behavioral decision. A commercial can say, “our product is the best”. You won’t believe it at first, but after hearing it over and over the impact gets stronger. This is where the “trust factor” comes into play. This data comes from a person, a book, an audio/ visual source that only describes and give the information. As the person sensing the information how much of it you assimilate into your own personality, depends on how much you trust them. (I could go off in a tangent about parenting here, but I will hold the course.) As an example, FOX news has been shown to me to be very biased and often nonfactual. When I see a report from them, I do not immediately believe it. So if they say, “Don’t eat beans cause they will give you gas”. I am not going to be as driven to change my diet away from beans. CNN has demonstrated a more factual history and NPR has even more so. Their impact to affect me is different even if they delivered the exact same story. There is a conundrum here. This is the worst way to receive information, make a judgment, and act upon it. It is fraught with predisposed notions that might be wrong or not relative. However, you can not see emotional stimulus. Because that “environment” is inside the mind of the individual. This is age old and well known, but it is the explanation why every mental health expert insists open and often communications of each other’s feelings is imperative to maintaining a healthy bond. What is left to the imagination has too many biased and often unrealistic influences based solely on past history.
The Forth Out Of Three Ways:
There is a Fourth way we assimilate information. But we really don’t “gain” anything. That fourth way is that we “reason” or rationalize it. We take other like raw data from other situations and form an opinion about a stimulus. For example, I have experience the loss of a loved one, I have been told life is precious by those I trust, and I have watched the reaction of those who have lost loved ones, so I reason that “all life is precious”. This is a completely corruptible format of information processing. Don’t believe me, ask Santa Clause. However, if you are not exchanging positive stimulus with your partner, you are leaving too much to the imagination. Depending on how he/ she was treated in the past, well that is going to have an affect on what they imagine is happening in that void. So, remember how there ex was an A-hole/ bitch, guess what they are envisioning of you? They can’t stop it. It is all they have to go on.
I am going to start out with the least fun and probably shortest of the two types of stimulus. Let me first say that everything you do will have either a positive or negative impact. There is no “in between” or neutral. Actions happen, and so do reactions. So what makes it so hard to be in relationship? Imagine trying to stop your car when your only choices are to throw it in forward or throw it in reverse. There is no break. Intimate relationships especially, are all 5 senses oriented. You need them to be stimulated to maintain the bond.
More then a few guys I know that broke off relationships with (I am sure this goes both ways, but I am a guy and these are the stories I know.) a woman who had a dirty house, had cats that smelt bad, started gaining massive amounts of weight right after, had spending problems, or was constantly being over critical. Many of them would say, “I really loved her but…” These are all different types of stimulus. Smell, sight, sight/ rationalization combo. All of the ones I am thinking of broke it off after more then 6 months, many after more then a year. Little by little the negatives of these situations became the only thing that was evident. They closed off, and the rest was left to the imagination. You have to think about how much of your relationship is negative stimulus. If it is most of the time, even though your are moving forward at the moment, the car is in reverse, and the wheels are starting to catch.
Keeping it positive:
This has come up a few times as the result of two things happening simultaneously at the moment. I have a couple of buddies who are in long distance relationships and trying to hold them together and the advent of Facebook doing an IPO. It has lead to discussions about sensory stimulus or our cultures growing lack there of it. The expanded version of what I told my buddies about the long distance relationships is this. Relationships require all 5 senses. It is not just about sex, and hanging out, and doing things together, and sex (did I mention they are guys?) and the obvious. It is about experiencing the same stimulus together. The smell of a restaurant or the popcorn at the theater imprints itself and sets of triggers in ones head. The feel of the plane as you taxi down the runway on a vacation. The sound of silence on a midsummer’s night sail. Not just the taste of the food but the taste in the air when sharing a meal. When making love it is not just the “feel” of the obvious, what makes it “hot” is the feel of the less considered places. Wind on the ear from a breath, smell of well earned sweat, the taste of being tasted, the sight of satisfaction, the sound of the activity almost as a music score. All of these inputs culminate to make a mental image in your mates head that confirms “security”. Star this, Confirming security is what a relationship is all about. If you are holding somebody by simply exposing their insecurities, you are being abusive.
When you are talking about a long distance relationship you only have access naturally maybe two. Even that is often just text based visual and sound based audible. If you are going to beat the odds of a long distance relationship failure, you have to work extra hard at making up for the missing stimulus. You have to make it as natural as possible. For example, cook or order the exact same meal. Open a web cam session, and share the meal as if you were together. The other thing is that you have to lean heavily on the audio and visual. You have to find ways to say “I love you” way more often then if you are together. Then he/ she can just see the look on your face when you look at each other. You can tell that they were being honest when they “just went out with the boys/ girls”. You can just feel the security of the situation when in the same room. When you are not there, in the very primal sense, you are not confirming the other persons security. So to make up for it, the reinforcement has to come often and extreme at times. The other thing is doing a lot of planning together about when you are together. Even if many of the plans fall through, just the security of thinking of each in the other’s future is a positive stimulus. That is as long as they trust you.
At home, if you want to maintain that brand new feeling, you have to stop yourself and reflect. Do we experience more positive or negative stimulus exchanges. That requires taking an honest hard look at yourself from outside yourself. Putting yourself in the other person perspective and asking “how would I react if somebody said this to me in this way?”
Summary and conclusion:
This is getting long and I am sure I have lost most of the male readers already. So I will just say that everything you know is a result of your 5 senses taking in the data. Listen and look at yourself routinely and ask, “am in in forward or reverse most often?” You can choose to be happy no matter where you are. If you are in a situation where a person can not stop being negative, you can choose to leave. Just make sure that they knew they could stop that fate first in a positive and loving fashion. “If you don’t stop calling me fat, I am gonna leave yer ass” won’t do anything but put more negative fuel on the fire. Instead say, “what you are saying to me hurts. Do you want to hurt me?” The point is that is in not just the message, it is the sense that it is delivered to and the method of the delivery. This concept will be revisited for sure. So go out and think about how to use all of your senses.