Human Nature

Despite our complex physiology our Basic Needs are met by an apparently elementary operating systems

Abraham Maslow, an American Psychologist, proposed a Hierarchy of Human Needs


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Maslow called the bottom four levels of the pyramid ‘deficiency needs’ because a person is not aware of anything missing if they are met, but becomes anxious if they are not.

In contrast, Maslow called the fifth level of the pyramid a ‘growth need’ because it enables a person to ‘self-actualize’ or reach his fullest potential as a human being.

Clearly many are Complex Needs (Aspirations?, and many also particularly apply to certain individuals and in certain circumstances.

The Harvard Medical School describes us as having “a dog-brain with a human cortex stuck on top” — and that “not a second goes by that our animal brain isn’t seeking to influence our options”.

The dog-brain mainly concerns itself with the lower 3 levels of the Needs

The “dog-brain” can respond much faster than the “thinking brain” — so if a “flight-or-flight” situation arises we depend on the fast reactions of the motivational/emotional “dog-brain”.

Our uniquely human aspirations can transcend our basic Needs. However, Humans have not generally been adept at aspects of nurturing, educating and encouraging the development of our next generation.

Our Nervous System enables us to be “aware” through a range of Senses — See Ref79

The Senses let us know when we are hungry, thirsty, etc. — and we then motivated by our emotional system to do something about it. Of course fixed meal times anticipate hunger.

The simplest functional model of the human Mind envisages:
• A Conscious part dealing with a complex of impressions through our Senses.
• An Unconscious part comprising our memories of experiences, associated emotions, competences, etc.

There is a little understood regarding interchange between the two parts.

Buddhist Philosophers imagined a “stream of consciousness” as the model of a link from Conscious to the Unconscious — It is intuitively appealing. The names of the Moods and Emotions in the stream are Hell, Hunger (craving), Instincts, Anger, Tranquillity, Rapture, Learning, and Realization, and Helping.

The Instincts are the

Thus, physiological needs such as eating, drinking, and sleeping are potential deficiency
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needs — as are safety needs — social needs such as friendship — sexual intimacy, and ego needs such as self-esteem and recognition — They vary considerably in source, intensity and duration — such as Domestic Abuse, Infection, Chronic Stress, etc.

Where Hell includes the following:

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However thought processes seem to yield enthusiastic responses from the Unconscious

Such Emotions, whether triggered from without or within, produce major changes all through the body, most notably in muscle-tone, energy level, tone of voice, and facial expressions.

Emotion can be considered the result of:
• Mood — the inner, subjective feelings
• Affect — the outer, objective manifestations of feeling,
• Drive, and
• Cognitive control.

Emotions are chemicals released in response to our interpretation of a specific trigger.
Emotion chemicals are released throughout our bodies, not just in our brains, and they form a kind of feedback loop between our brains & bodies.
In general, only changes in the body or environment that produce emotion are notice.
Feelings happen as we begin to integrate the emotion, to think about it, to “let it soak in.”
In English, we use “feel” for both physical and emotional sensation — we can say we physically feel cold, but we can also emotionally feel cold. This is a clue to the meaning of “feeling,” it’s something we sense. Feelings are more “cognitively saturated” as the emotion chemicals are processed in our brains & bodies.
Feelings are often fuelled by a mix of emotions, and last for longer than emotions.
Emotions have enormous power to enhance, distort, or totally disrupt other mental processes. For instance, intense interest can make thoughts and ideas flow profusely, while shame makes it all but impossible to concentrate.

Moods are an aspect of our Emotions. In effect they place a restriction on our emotional responses. A “Bad Mood” tends to focus on Negative Emotions.

An Angry reaction seems to reduce our options with regard to dealing with a situation.

Intense study, creativity, etc. can stifle our basic Needs – we ignore hunger, etc. but enhance our ability to learn and realise.

Depression seems to shut-off our understanding, and motivation regarding much of our Needs — leaving us with emotions of despair.

Likewise, Anxiety blocks our judgement and composure.

Severe trauma can damage our Emotional reactions and judgement, so that we respond with anger out of proportion or misinterpretation of the circumstances.

From — ref791 emotions-energy-create-transform-us and reward system

If human beings are capable of accumulating numerous positive emotions, they will acquire more competent basic tools for dealing with difficult times.

Emotions are the score that orchestrates our daily lives Sometimes the music is happy, lively, and intense, but after a while, it envelops us in its melody, sad and full of disenchantment

According to work published by social psychologist Barbara Fredrickson in the “Review of General Psychology” (2008), positive emotions, in addition to giving us immediate satisfaction, act as learning mechanisms.

In other words, we would speak of the following relationship:– more satisfactory emotions, means better personal resources for dealing with times of crisis.

Emotions are capable of transforming our reality — Something that we must keep in mind is that an emotion is not just an inner state; it is a combination of various powerful elements:–

• Cognitions, that is, the way we process everything that surrounds us, what we see, feel, and experience. Everything acquires an inner meaning for us.
• Our feelings and the way we react. To understand this, we will give you a simple example: you are in love with someone and you do not dare tell them. In the end, it is too late and that person disappears from your life, taking with them the chance to at least try.

The main neurotransmitters that act as creators of our emotions are:

• Dopamine is related to pleasure and reward experiences in our learning process. In other words, when we do something good, we are gratified by the excretion of dopamine and we receive a pleasant sensation.
• Serotonin, in turn, is a neurotransmitter associated with memory and learning. So then, it is important to know that an imbalance of serotonin levels can increase anger, anxiety, depression, and the sense of panic.
• An adequate level of Norepinephrine keeps stress and anxiety under control.

Read More — ref791

Returning to Needs — A condensed version of Maslow’s — was proposed by Rick Hanson in his book “Hardwiring Happiness”

He observed::– We have 3 core Needs or Operating Systems:–
• Safety ——— Avoiding Harms
• Connection —– Attaching/relating to others
• Satisfaction — Using Rewards

These operating systems are defined by their function and not their evolved anatomy

Each operating system has its own set of capabilities, and they can be running at the same time.

Each has two modes of responding to circumstances:
• The Responsive Mode — Controlled, Mindful
• The Reactive Mode — Alert, Emotional, Stressed. — Insecure people, and those affected by trauma are more prone to this mode

These are much influenced by our experiences, from early nurture, family life, fortune, etc.

Our Reward systems motivate us to deal with each Need

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We have the ability to develop useful Habits and Competences by means of changes to the Brain called Myelination.

However, we can also learn bad habits..

We Humans are driven by our Needs and our Reward System. Unfortunately our Reward System can malfunction, leading, for some of us, to one or more Addictions

This seems to occur because the Resolution phase in the reward cycle does not work properly.

With alcohol the effects are related to Blood/Alcohol Content (BAC), that for a given alcohol intake, depends on gender and weight

A simple model explains what happens as we continue to drink. Though an alcoholic has a greater tolerance to alcohol.
• Alcohol first of all initiates pleasure by activating an excitatory neurotransmitter, thus stimulating the body.,
• However, above a BAC of around 0.33 mL/L an inhibitory neurotransmitter is activated as the nervous system decides that enough is enough – this is the depressive phase.
• However reduced inhibition and a much greater tolerance to alcohol cause the alcoholic to continue drinking – the inhibitory neuro-transmitter is ineffective
BAC (% by Volume) — Typical Behaviour — and possible Impairment
To 0.1———– Reduced inhibition ———— Reduced reasoning
0.1 – 0.2 ——- Boisterous/Angry————— Staggering
0.2 – 0.3 ——- Stupor—————————— Blackout
0.3 – 0.4 ——- Severe depression—————–Incontinence
> 0.4 ————Coma ———————————Risk of death, damage

Early Development

The Psychologist Oliver James in his book “They Fxxx You Up”, presents his version of Early Human Developments and relates these to Adult Personality Types. He considers Genetics and Nurtures but maintains that we can and should focus on Nurture – because it can be changed!

His main focus is on emotional and social aspects, developed over 3 early stages.
o Stage 1 Becoming aware – to 6 months
o Stage 2 Developing how to Relate to others – to 3 years
o Stage 3 Realising a Conscience (morality) – 3 to 6 yrs

Early care that lacks empathy creates an immature adult with arrested development, prone to the reckless and amoral acts of a young child, to the ‘me, me, me’ selfishness and inflated grandiosity found in the fantasy life of the toddler. But the cause of such personality disorder is not wholly due to the sort of care in infancy. Subsequent experiences, especially sexual and physical abuse, can also play critical roles.

See Attachment Theory — Ref 492 and Personality Research — Ref 484

Another major development stage is Adolescence, with Puberty:

See Development of Values — Ref 391

The Mature (Secure) Adult is described the Psychologist Oliver James, as follows:

If you are this type it is relatively easy for you to become emotionally close to others. You are comfortable depending upon others and being depended upon by them, and don’t worry greatly about being alone or having others not accept us.

Adult romantic partners tend to be secure. When set a problem to solve with their partner, secure men are positive and supportive, trying to help rather than acting as a competitor or getting annoyed. Secure women are likely to seek emotional support from their man and to be happy to receive embraces or other physical expressions of affection and encouragement.

Secure couples have the least negative relationships of any combination of patterns – less critical, less conflict-ridden, more warm and friendly. The most common causes of rancour, like the man not spending enough time with the woman or disputes over the division of domestic labour, are less likely to be a problem. Followed over time, their relationships last longer and, if they include marriage, are less likely to end in divorce.

Such a paragon is the result of a Secure Attachment to fellow beings, with no Personality Disorder and a Benign Conscience in the years 3 to 6).

About 50% of Adults in Civilised Societies are “Secure” — the rest are criminals, comedians and politicians — even Prime Ministers

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