Human Nature

The Mind — Memories, Consciousness & Non-Consciousness
Motivations, Needs, Emotions
Habits, Competence, Personality
Aspirations, Society
A life
The Body

In a profound way each of us is on our own.

In a profound way we are each part of humanity.

We each compete and commune as we experience life.  Our Human Body /Mind is the result of how humans evolved to deal with these opposing demands.

American soldier meets Iraqi children

Fig. 260

The various manifestation of Human Nature should be acknowledged.  We differ from each other — a combination of heredity and upbringing.

The Therapist, David A Yeats, states —
Without an awareness of how humans unfold developmentally, we are more inclined to live passively, not consciously, not deliberately, and to feel a greater sense of being a Victim of Life, rather than a Creator of what we believe in, value, or desire for our lives.

Consciousness is arguably one of the best things about being human.— ref739d

Without Consciousness we would not be aware of anything.

But our Non-conscious Mind is the essence of our being, as it develops, as it adapts —

Our Senses inform it
Our Needs use it
Our companions in life share it
Our Satisfactions demand it
Our safety needs it
Our Aspirations enhance it

To Contents
Consciousness & its Limitations 

By the 1920’s Psychologists were advised to focus exclusively on measurable, observable behaviour.

By the late 20th Century psychologists were once again grappling with the issue of Consciousness.  New tools, notably brain scanning techniques and theories of Cognition, offered new approaches to studying Conscious and Unconscious mental activity.

From ref999  — Brain imaging techniques can be used to show brain structures or functions. An old technique, Electroencephalography (the EEG) yields more information now with computer enhancements. PET scans show fluctuations of brain activity in real time as a person thinks or acts.

Another technique, — MRI —  was originally used to visualize tumours and soft tissue structures of the brain. A variation called functional MRI (fMRI) became the most commonly used brain scanning technique in Cognitive Neuroscience —  It can spot small, brief areas of activity.

The Attention Schema Theory (AST) seeks to explain how consciousness evolved — ref 280 & later

From ref738f
The two most powerful functions of the developing Conscious Mind —
1. The ability to imagine — Jokes, acting, etc.
2. The ability to direct your focus — Thinking hard, enjoying a pleasant event, etc.

We “imagine” our awareness through our senses can be supplemented by inputs from our Nonconscious Mind.

Both of these involve dealing with our complex of —
• Emotional reactions
• Realising our Human Needs

From ref999

George Mandler, a cognitive psychologist, identified three goal-directed tasks for Conscious thought.

  1. Learning. People typically concentrate their awareness when trying to learn something new. Not until a skill is well practiced does it become automatic — unconscious.
  2. Making judgments. People think consciously about alternatives and choices.
  3. Troubleshooting. People use conscious mental processes to deal with unexpected situations that cannot be handled with automatic, well-learned routines.

However, when people are thinking about day-to-day events without focusing on any goal-directed task, a circuit of densely-connected brain areas is active —  This is called the Default Mode Network (DMN) — The DMN is quieted when people have their attention drawn to a specific goal-directed task.  DMN was discovered in the late 1990s

DMN is a large scale brain network of interacting brain regions known to have activity highly correlated with each other and distinct from other networks in the brain —

Fig 270, ref1033

When people are daydreaming, thinking of past experiences, or trying to under­stand other people, the DMN is active.

The DMN might best be regarded as “the seat of ordinary thinking.” That type of thinking can be defined by what it is not.  It is active when —

  1. When people are daydreaming
  2. Thinking of past experiences, or
  3. Trying to under­stand other people
  4. It is not concentrating on an external task, and
  5. It is not taking in the present moment without judgment

However, there is a variant for success in thinking- called positive-constructive-daydreaming — ref1034

Along with Intelligent cognitive rest  — ref1033

DMN is also quieted during Meditative states.

In the 1980s, Psychology started its own meditation movement — Mindfulness

The term “Mindfulness” is one of several translations of the Buddhist concept of sati. In Buddhism this meant monitoring memories and experience to prevent worldly concerns such as desire and craving.

From — ref985
Mindfulness is achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Mindfulness has been defined by Kabat-Zinn as moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a specific way, that is, in the present moment, and as non-reactively, as non-judgmentally, and open-heartedly as possible.

As Mindfulness research entered its fourth decade, attention shifted from demonstrating significant effects to exploring mechanisms — Researchers looked for Neural Mechanisms of attentional control that might be influenced by meditation.   Mindfulness Meditation involves a breathing practice, mental imagery, awareness of body and mind, and muscle and body relaxation.

Mindfulness Meditation has reduced activity in the DMN.

To Contents
The Mind — The Conscious, Memory and the Non-Conscious

There are various theories and observations about the Mind — These theories are all of interest, and may contain some validity, even if not fully illuminating.

The Mind is generally perceived as a combination of the Conscious and the Non-conscious (variants — Near, Sub and Un-conscious)

Our Conscious thinking, perceiving, and learning account for only a small fraction of our total mental activity — with the rest being entirely Non-conscious

Because the  Non-conscious Mind is responsible for the bulk of our mental processing, it can also be said to be responsible for the development of a large part of our personality, tastes, talents, and so on — It determines, in essence, how we function — and here we have to beware !

 Memory has a dominant role in the Non-conscious.

There is no agreed model of how memory works — but a good model for how memory works must be consistent with the subjective nature of our consciousness — Too much information constantly flows in to be fully processed — ref 97.

From ref1008 — How memory functions

Our memory has three basic functions: encoding, storing, and retrieving information. Encoding is the act of getting information into our memory system through automatic or effortful processing. Storage is retention of the information, and retrieval is the act of getting information out of storage and into conscious awareness through recall, recognition, and relearning. There are various models that aim to explain how we utilize our memory. In this section, you’ll learn about some of these models as well as the importance of recall, recognition, and relearning.

From  ref 598 —  Subjectivity

All of our experiences are filtered through our consciousness for interpretation, evaluation and response. Therefore, the only way we are capable of sensing reality is through the mediation of our consciousness – i.e. through our subjectivity — ref 598.

Subjectivity in remembering involves at least three important factors:
o Memories are constructions made in accordance with present needs, desires, influences, etc.
o Memories are often accompanied by feelings and emotions.
o Memory usually involves awareness of the memory.

Of course — Memory recall is only as good as your memory technique, and retention


The Memory System has the ability to encode, store and recall information. Memories give an organism the capability to learn and adapt from previous experiences as well as build relationships — ref532

Encoding allows the perceived item of use or interest to be converted into a construct that can be stored within the brain and recalled later from short term or long term memory.

Working memory stores information for immediate use or manipulation which is aided through hooking onto previously archived items already present in the long-term memory of an individual

Visual, acoustic, and semantic encodings are the most intensively used. Tactile encoding is the processing and encoding of how something feels, normally through touch. Odours and tastes may also lead to encode.

 Types of Memory —  ref246

Sensory memory is the earliest stage of memory. During this stage, sensory information from the environment is stored for a very brief period of time, generally for no longer than a half-second for visual information and 3 or 4 seconds for auditory information.

We attend to only certain aspects of this sensory memory, allowing some of this information to pass into the next stage – short-term memory.

Paying attention to sensory memories generates the information in short-term memory.

Short-term memory

Also known as active memory, is the information we are currently aware of or thinking about.

In Freudian psychology, this memory would be referred to as the conscious mind. Most of the information stored in active memory will be kept for approximately 20 to 30 seconds.

While many of our short-term memories are quickly forgotten, attending to this information allows it to continue to the next stage – long-term memory.

It is the capacity for holding, but not manipulating, a small amount of information in mind in an active, readily available state for a short period of time. The duration of short-term memory (when rehearsal or active maintenance is prevented) is believed to be in the order of seconds.

Short-term memory should be distinguished from working memory, which refers to structures and processes used for temporarily storing and manipulating information

Working memory is often used synonymously with short-term memory, but neuropsychologists consider the two forms of memory distinct: working memory allows for the manipulation of stored information, while short-term memory only refers to the short-term storage of information. Working memory is a theoretical concept central to cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, and neuroscience.

Working memory stores information for immediate use or manipulation which is aided through hooking onto previously archived items already present in the long-term memory of an individual.

Working memory, a core executive function, is a cognitive system with a limited capacity that is responsible for the transient holding, processing, and manipulation of information. Working memory is important for reasoning and the guidance of decision making and behaviour.

Long-Term Memory refers to the continuing storage of information.

In Freudian psychology, long-term memory would be called the preconscious and unconscious. This information is largely outside of our awareness, but can be called into working memory to be used when needed. Some of this information is fairly easy to recall, while other memories are much more difficult to access.

The ability to retrieve information from long-term memory allows you to use memories to make decisions, interact with others, and solve problems.

Although there is a tremendous amount of research, we do not know exactly how information is actually organized in long-term memory. However, there are several different theories on how long-term memory is organized —

From ref 599 — Organisation of long-term memory

The four main theories are:

  • Hierarchies
  • Semantic Networks
  • Schemas, Clustering
  • Connectionist Network — most recent

Another Perspective — Information processing — ref966

This starts with input from the sensory organs, which transform physical stimuli such as touch, heat, sound waves, or photons of light into electrochemical signals.

The sensory information is repeatedly transformed by the algorithms of the brain in both bottom up and top down processing.

For example, when looking at a picture of a black box on a white background, bottom up processing puts together very simple information such as colour, orientation, and where the borders of the object are  where the colour changes significantly over a short space to decide that you are seeing a box.

Top down processing uses the decisions made at some steps of the bottom up process to speed up your recognition of the box. Top down processing in this example might help you identify the object as a black box rather than a box shaped hole in the white background.

Once information is processed to a degree, an attention filter decides how important the signal is and which cognitive processes it should be made available to.

For example, although your brain processes every blade of grass when you look down at your shoes, a healthy attention filter prevents you from noticing them individually. In contrast, you might pick out your name, even when spoken in a noisy room.

There are many stages of processing, and the results of processing are modulated by attention repeatedly.

In order for the brain to process information, it must first be stored.

There are multiple types of memory, including sensory, working, and long term.

First, information is encoded. There are types of encoding specific to each type of sensory stimuli. For example, verbal input can be encoded structurally, referring to what the printed word looks like, phonemically, referring to what the word sounds like, or semantically, referring to what the word means.

Once information is stored, it must be maintained. Some animal studies suggest that working memory, which stores information for roughly 20 seconds, is maintained by an electrical signal looping through a particular series of neurons for a short period of time. Information in long term memory is hypothesized to be maintained in the structure of certain types of proteins.

There are numerous models of how the knowledge is organized in the brain, some based on the way human subjects retrieve memories, others based on computer science, and others based on neurophysiology.

The semantic network model states that there are nodes representing concepts, and that the nodes are linked based on their relatedness. For example, in a semantic network, “chair” might be linked to “table,” which can be linked to “wooden,” and so forth.

The connectionist model states that a piece of knowledge is represented merely by a pattern of neuronal activation rather than by meaning.

There is not yet a universally accepted knowledge organization model, because each has strengths and weaknesses.

Once stored, memories eventually must be retrieved from storage. Remembering past events is not like watching a recorded video. It is, rather, a process of reconstructing what may have happened based on the details the brain chose to store and was able to recall. Recall is triggered by a retrieval cue, an environmental stimulus that prompts the brain to retrieve the memory. Evidence shows that the better the retrieval cue, the higher the chance of recalling the memory.

It is important to note that the retrieval cue can also make a person reconstruct a memory improperly. Memory distortions can be produced in various ways, including varying the wording of a question. For example, merely asking someone whether a red car had left the scene of a hit and run can make the person recall having seen a red car during later questioning, even if there was never a red car.

Information processing in the brain is the topic of a large, ongoing body of research.

Although some people are fascinated by the brain on its own merits, a growing number are looking to psychology in order to better their own study skills and cognitive performance.

The Neural System & Memory

All perceived and striking sensations travel to the brain’s Thalamus where all these sensations are combined into one single experience.

The Amygdala is a complex structure that has an important role in visual encoding. It accepts visual input in addition to input from other systems and encodes the positive or negative values of conditioned stimuli.

The Hippocampus is responsible for analyzing these inputs and ultimately deciding if they will be committed to long-term memory; these various threads of information are stored in various parts of the brain. However, the exact way in which these pieces are identified and recalled later remains unknown.

A phenomenon called Long-Term Potentiation allows a synapse to increase strength with increasing numbers of transmitted signals between the two neurons. These cells also organise themselves into groups specializing in different kinds of information processing. Thus, with new experiences the brain creates more connections and may ‘re-wire’.

The brain organizes and reorganizes itself in response to one’s experiences, creating new memories prompted by experience, education, or training. Therefore the use of a brain reflects how it is organised.

This ability to re-organize is especially important if ever a part of the brain becomes damaged. Scientists are unsure of whether the stimuli of what we do not recall are filtered out at the sensory phase or if they are filtered out after the brain examines their significance.

Fig 255 Freud Mind

This early model by Freud has been superseded but it contains the essentials of contents and interactions between the conscious and the Non-conscious.

Processing information with Non-conscious mind


From ref897

Our conscious thinking, perceiving, and learning accounts for only a small fraction of our total mental activity, with the rest being entirely Non-conscious.

The  Non-conscious Mind is thought to be composed only of what it has absorbed from the external environment, and to be responsible for the following processes —
1.     Non-conscious learning and the development of personality traits
2.    The  Non-conscious influence that our Non-conscious learning has on our judgments, decisions, and emotions (both feelings and reactions); and
3.    The various organizations and reorganizations that occur spontaneously in  Non-conscious knowledge systems.

As point three above  suggests, our Non-conscious knowledge systems are far from rigid; they constantly change, and we change with them, leading to what we interpret as the growth and alteration of the personality.

Generally, these changes can be seen as a computer re-ordering itself to become more and more efficient in its processing of the external environment,

But in some circumstances, the same processes may lead to the state of mal-adaptation that we refer to as mental illness.

There are indications  that our Non-conscious will adapt to our use of dishonesty — ref867

However, there may be instances for second thoughts — with a trade-off between honesty and self-interest — ref868



From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam —

“Myself when young did eagerly frequent

Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument

About it and about: but evermore

Came out by the same door where in I went.”

However, through observations, and trial and error, we are able to Learn competences, useful habits, etc – useful and beneficial achievements.

Developing a complex of general competences is truly essential for day to day living,

Other competences can be developed to support individual aspirations.  Each competence improves with practice and may be lost if neglected. This has been described as “Use It or Lose It”.

Unfortunately, we are as likely to learn Bad Habits, potentially debilitating habitual behaviours, such as depression, and often leading to addictions

Bad habits may develop in many ways, such as:
• Negative responses to circumstances and events – this makes things worse
• Procrastination – rarely able to decide – this causes anxiety
• Worrying about what others may think – reduces this social contact
• Finding reasons for not doing something – this reduces commitment

From ref1016 — Habits & Addictions

One notable difference between habit and the disease of addiction is the amount of time and effort required to change the behavior. Altering habits requires minimal effort, time, and attention.

Addiction, on the other hand, often demands an integrative, long-term plan to treat physical symptoms like withdrawal as well as the emotional disconnect between body and behavior.

There is an ongoing debate among experts about whether the abuse of drinking and drugs represents the development of troublesome habitual behavior or addiction. As a human being, you are naturally drawn to habitual patterns because repetition creates familiarity and comfort. Positive habits can even become tools of survival.

Sometimes, however, habitual behaviors take a dark turn and develop into addictions.

Recovery requires that you honestly assess your behavior and how it affects your health, relationships, job, spirituality, and life to understand the difference between habit and addiction.

Bad habits and how to break them — ref1015

See also The Anxiety of Learning — ref1015

We sometimes also have to deal with stresses, just coping — How Anxiety scrambles your brain — ref1012

From ref1012 — Stress and Plasticity in the Limbic System

This paper reviews that subject, concentrating on:

  1. a) the ability of severe and/or prolonged stress to impair hippocampaldependent

explicit learning and the plasticity that underlies it;

  1. b) the ability of mild and transient

stress to facilitate such plasticity;

  1. c) the ability of a range of stressors to enhance implicit fear conditioning, and to enhance the Amygdaloid plasticity that underlies it.

The stages in achieving a skill can follow this sort of pattern —

  • Unconscious incompetence: I don’t really know what I want – Will this do what I want – Will I ever understand?
  • Conscious incompetence: I’m getting a vague understanding.
  • Conscious competence: Why didn’t I see this before.
  • Unconscious competence: I hardly notice how easy it is – I’m actually getting better at other things!

Once an activity such as driving is well learned, we can do it automatically.

However, when first performing a learned activity, we must pay attention or devote Conscious awareness to the task. Even after the activity is automatic we must continue to pay attention.

Consciousness — Its Evolution


From ref885

The Attention Schema Theory (AST) seeks to explain how Consciousness evolved  (In the context of the  Non-conscious)

AST  proposes that Consciousness arises as a solution to one of the most fundamental problems facing the nervous system — Too much information constantly flows in for it to be fully processed.

The brain evolved increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for deeply processing a few select signals at the expense of others, and in the AST, Consciousness is the ultimate result of that evolutionary sequence — Neurons act like candidates in an election, each one shouting and trying to suppress its fellows. At any moment only a few neurons win that intense competition, their signals rising up above the noise and impacting behaviour. This process is called selective signal enhancement, and without it, a nervous system can do almost nothing.

The Cortex has developed something called covert attention. You don’t need to look directly at something to covertly attend to it. Even if you’ve turned your back on an object, your Cortex can still focus its processing resources on it. Your Cortex can shift covert attention from, say, the text in front of you — to a nearby person, to the sounds in your backyard, to a thought or a memory ….

Covert attention is the virtual movement of deep processing from one item to another.

Unlike earlier developments that model concrete objects like the eyes and the head, the Cortex has to model something much more abstract. According to the AST, it does so by constructing an Attention Schema — a constantly updated set of information that describes what covert attention is doing moment-by-moment and what its consequences are.

It is implied that the covert attention is the what the  Non-conscious is seeking to draw attention to from its complex store and on-going monitoring of Needs, Habits, Competences, etc.

From ref886.

The Buddhist version of the “Stream of Consciousness” looks like a similar explanation —


The names of the Moods and Emotions in the stream are Hell, Hunger (Craving), Instinct, Anger, Tranquillity, Rapture, Learning, and Realisation, and Helping.

Note the early observation of our propensity to Negativity –

Fig 46 Hell — negative emotions

Also note Craving, or Motivation

To Contents
Motivations, Needs, Emotions

Motivations Version 1

From  ref926 — Maslow and Motivation

  • Physiological Needs – such as hunger, thirst and sleep
  • Safety Needs – such as security, protection from danger and freedom from pain.
  • Social Needs – sometimes also referred to as love needs such as friendship, giving and receiving love, engaging in social activities and group membership.
  • Esteem Needs – these include both self-respect and the esteem of others. For example, the desire for self-confidence and achievement, and recognition and appreciation.
  • Self-actualization – This is about the desire to develop and realize your full potential. To become everything you can be.

From ref926 — Maslow and Motivation

To understand Maslow’s thinking it’s worth noting some of his main assertions:

  • Broadly, as one set of needs is met, the next level of needs become more of a motivator to an individual.
  • Only unsatisfied needs motivate an individual. We have an innate desire to work our way up the hierarchy, pursuing satisfaction in higher order needs.
  • Self-actualization stimulates a desire for more satisfaction due to what Maslow explained as “peak experiences”.

From ref1001 — The nature of Needs especially psychological Needs

The hierarchy Maslow proposed is no longer supported by modern theorists.  Instead, current thinking tends to put forward ideas of fundamental needs and general needs, or primary and secondary needs, or simply a broad range of needs —

Fig 264  ref1004 — Needs Inventory

Indeed, on the psychological side of things, we have Needs such as self-worth and self-confidence (self-esteem), understanding, (logical) clarity, learning, meaning, efficacy, growth, choice, autonomy, excitement, challenge, play, fun, joy, humour, self-expression, creativity, inspiration, celebration, beauty, purpose, and so on.

To not get such Needs met, or met fully, translates into a less fulfilling life.

Additionally, in order to sustain ourselves as social animals, we require lots of other Needs to be fulfilled as well, such as acceptance, respect, consideration, belonging, love, touch, sexual expression, nurturing, caring, freedom, authenticity, honesty, empathy, presence, to be known and heard, cooperation, support, peace, justice, fairness, ease, harmony, order, safety, protection, trust, equality, community, warmth, and so on.

ref1003 — Feelings-inventory

Rosenberg says it has been his experience that, “from the moment people begin talking about what they need rather than what’s wrong with one another, the possibility of finding ways to meet everybody’s Needs is greatly increased”

Acknowledgement —

(c) 2005 by Center for Nonviolent Communication
Website: Email:
Phone: +1.505-244-4041

 From ref650 — Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson

Humans have 3 Core Needs or Operating Systems —
• Safety ————Avoiding Harm
• Connection —– Attaching/relating to others
• Satisfaction —– Using our Rewards system.

These Operating Systems are defined by their function and not the evolved anatomy — Each operating system has its own set of capabilities, and they can be running at the same time.

They are complex, each individual has a different version of a range of Needs.

Each has two modes of responding to circumstances:

  • The Responsive Mode — Controlled, Mindful
  • The Reactive Mode — Alert, Stressed. Emotional — Insecure people, and those affected by trauma are more prone to this mode.

 Avoiding harm seems to have evolved a Human Brain that has a negativity bias, tending to simulate —
• Velcro for negative experiences — an expectation or precaution
• Teflon for positive ones.

In past and some current societies there was the expectation of physical danger.

Currently toxic stress, bullying (such as from Social Media), loneliness due to loss of Family links — seem to be creating serious Psychological pressures.


Attaching/relating to others — the second Need

According to the Attachment theory, approximately 50% of economically “comfortable” people in Western Society enjoy good relationships with others, 20% tend to avoid relationships with others, another 10% tend to cling to relationships, the remaining 20% swing between clinging and avoiding — however it should noted that we all probably experience Avoiding and Clinging in some relationships.

The “belongingness hypothesis” states that people have a basic psychological need to feel closely connected to others, and that caring, affectionate bonds from close relationships are a major part of human behaviour — ref778

We have a Need for:
• Forming social bonds
• Not breaking bonds —
• Cognition –  When we feel close to others, a cognitive “merging” effect occurs
• Emotional highs and lows
• Avoiding the Consequences of deprivation
• Avoiding Partial deprivation
• Avoiding Satiation and substitution

There is such a thing as too many close relationships. People strongly prefer to have (and are only capable of having) a few very close friendships and a larger number of casual friendships. In this case, quality is more important than quantity.

ref779 — Why We Are Wired to Connect

 Satisfaction (Reward) — the third Need

Emotions are a reward or punishment for a specific motivated behaviour  — ref360

The School at Medicine at Mt Sinai explains that we have “reward pathways” — ref 291

The most important reward pathway in brain is a Dopamine system.


Under normal conditions, the pathway controls an individual’s responses to natural rewards, such as food, sex, and social interactions, and is therefore an important determinant of motivation and incentive drive.

FIG.187 Reward Cycle Eating

From — ref806 The neurobiology of pleasure, reward processes, addiction and their health implications

Natural rewarding or pleasurable activities are necessary for survival and appetitive motivation, usually governing beneficial biological behaviours like eating, sex and reproduction.

Thus, pleasure is much needed.

However, artificial stimulants (e.g., addictive drugs) or ‘too much’ of a pleasurable activity may not be as beneficial, since flexibility and natural control of behaviours may be deteriorated.

Clearly, addiction includes a loss of control over normal behaviors and appetitive motivational goals. Addictive drugs, in addition, are capable of directly and strongly acting on reward pathways, thereby influencing motivation physiology.

Moderate pleasurable experiences, nonetheless, are able to enhance biological flexibility, complexity and health protection. Thus, pleasure can be a resistance resource.

Motivations Version 2

Emotions send action signals to the muscles and organs of the body to prepare us for to do something. Each emotion carries general motivation for behavior selected from the broad categories of approach, avoid, or attack. If the change stimulating the emotion seems promising, the usual response is interest or enjoyment, which motivate various approach behaviors to “sense more, learn more, get more.” If the change seems dangerous, angerfear, or disgust emerges with motivation to attack (devalue) or avoid.

Motivation is the most important component of emotions. We cannot understand ourselves or other people without understanding motivation. We almost always fail to act in our best interests when we ignore motivation.

Types of Motivation. Below are examples of the primary motivations that foster growth and empowerment:

  • Interest – find out more, get beneath the surface
  • Passion – indulge, plunge
  • Conviction – work to keep the status quo or change it
  • Compassion – sympathize with the pain and hardship of self and other
  • Enjoyment – appreciate, relax with
  • Anxiety – learn more, increase ability to cope
  • Shame – hide, cover-up.
  • Distress – get back what was lost or compensate for its loss; consolidate gains
  • Guilt– reconnect, compensate.

Below are motivations that have survival importance but are scarcely helpful in negotiating the complexities of most modern problems:

  • Fear – freeze, run
  • Disgust – recoil, get away from
  • Anger – control, neutralize, devalue, punish, warn, threaten, intimidate, avenge
  • Contempt/hatred – annihilate.

Some writers conflate the largely unconscious motivations of emotions with conscious goals and intentions.

Most people would claim that the goal of communication in intimate relationships is to gain cooperation from their partners. When pressed, they say that they want cooperation because it makes them feel more connected. Yet they pursue their goals in emotional demeanor that sounds critical, punishing, or manipulating, as if daring their partners to love them.

Their intentions might be to express their feelings, but if those feelings are anger or contempt, their unconscious motivations will be to devalue, warn, threaten, or intimidate. The motivation of their emotions create formidable barriers to accomplishing their goals and intentions.

Feelings. The subjective experience of emotions—what they feel like—dominates our conceptions about them. However, this slowest component of emotion processing is only part of the emotional terrain. Trying to understand or change emotions through focus on how they feel is like trying to understand and change intestinal gas through focus on discomfort. Pop-psychologists make that error when they insist on “exploring and expressing” feelings.

The fact is, we cannot explore and express feelings without changing them. Mental focus amplifies and magnifies, creating the psychological equivalent to the observer effect in physics. Moreover, the brain loads into implicit memory other times you’ve experienced the feeling you’re trying to explore or express. This gives historical meaning to your feelings that go beyond the current situation. To complicate matters, the people around you will be focused on the situation and their own emotional responses to it. They are unlikely to give the same meaning to the feelings you’re trying to explore or express.

Emotions Version 1

Leading cause of Emotions — ref529

Understanding-emotions-and-how-process-them — ref995

There are sensory-perceptual experiences (seeing trees, hearing music).

There are drives (good things you intuitively want to approach and bad things you intuitively want to avoid) — and

There are emotions, which are “response sets” that prepare and energize action in response to perceptions and drives — Fear energized avoidance behaviour is a “response set”.

Emotions become active when we perceive changes that relate to our needs or goals.

  • Emotions provide information about one’s core goals and needs.
  • There are two broad systems of emotions, negative and positive. Negative emotions signal threat to needs and goals and energize avoidance. Positive emotions signal the opportunity to meet needs and goals and energize approach.
  • Emotions prepare an individual for action.
  • There are differences in emotional temperaments. Some people will have negative emotional systems that are easily triggered, generate more intense reactions, and are harder to sooth. This is called trait neuroticism.
  • Emotions are a central part of Awareness.

 Resuming  ref995 — Understanding emotions and how process them

There often might be conflict between core feelings and one’s private identity or public display of behaviour. If self or others judge negative feelings (sadness, fear or anxiety, anger, guilt, and so on) negatively, then we can see immediately that there can be conflict, either interpersonally (others judging the self) or intrapsychically (self judgment of one’s own feelings).

There are very good reasons to sometimes judge feelings negatively

Feelings are primitive, animalistic response sets that orient the individual toward action.

Shame orients you to submit, anger to punish others, fear to run away. In contrast to such simple impulses, human society often requires complex, long term responses.

If one were to act on raw emotional impulses, trouble can follow; thus, there is often good logic that drives our judgment of “overly” emotional responses.

That said, however, the judgment and inhibition of feelings come with a cost. We can see this when we consider what happens as individuals try to repress, distract, avoid or suppress the emergence of the feeling. Such an unprocessed state does not just disappear into the ether. Instead, to continue with the theatre of consciousness metaphor, it is jammed in a closet backstage (in one’s subconscious mind; here is a post on defining various domains of mind and consciousness). But if the function of the emotion is to communicate information about needs and goals, then the emotion has not served its function and there are good reasons to believe it holds its “potential” and will continue to exist in the background of consciousness, in a state of what we might call “unfinished business”.

Let’s consider what happens if someone is trying to block negative emotions all the time. More and more mental energy will go into jamming more and more emotions backstage. Moreover, the self consciousness system will very likely use increasingly harsh and critical language to inhibit the feelings—“Stop feeling this way!” “What is wrong with you!?” “This is pointless, stop being so stupid”. Not only do these elements inhibit the original feeling, but they also generate core feelings in and of themselves. That is, the core feeling self will feel wounded and judged by the self consciousness system, which creates a bad intra psychic cycle, a cycle where an individual turns against themselves, which can easily lead to depression.

Emotions Version 2

From ref1029 — motivation/emotions

In the late 1880s William James, then at Harvard, and Danish physiologist Carl Lange independently suggested the same theory of emotion. Both suggested that emotion is due to perceiving changes in the body.

Emotion is certainly associated with bodily reactions.

The autonomic nervous system, when activated, causes noticeable body reactions such as shaking or sweating. James suggested our feeling of a body reaction is the emotion.

From — ref 653
Emotions are more physiological than psychological — Any significant disruption of familiar sensory patterns triggers a biological response, commonly called emotion.

An Emotion is initially dealt with by the Emotional (Limbic) Brain — This enables us to respond immediately to indications of danger.

Whether triggered from outwith the body or within, emotions produce major changes all through the body. most notably in muscle-tone, energy level, tone of voice, and facial expressions. They signal organs and muscle groups, accelerate or decelerate cardiovascular rates, and mute or exaggerate messages of pain, deprivation, and pleasure.

People around you will be focused on the situation and their own emotional responses to it — they are unlikely to give the same meaning to the feelings you’re trying to explore or express.

The components of Emotion are:
• Arousal (energy)
• Motivation
• Feelings

Arousal is the energy that powers emotion. Even without emotional stimulation, arousal ebbs and flows in roughly 90-minute cycles throughout the day, including while we sleep. At peak arousal times we are more susceptible to intense emotional response.

Excitability and abundant energy mark periods of high arousal. Abnormally high levels produce over-stimulation, obsessions, compulsions, insomnia, or mania.

Periods of low arousal permit relaxation, letting go, or numbing out. Abnormally low levels of arousal create depression, muted emotions, or hypersomnia.

Specific emotions sometimes attach to arousal levels. For some people, high arousal produces increased anxiety or confidence. For others, low arousal stimulates shame, pride, anxiety, or withdrawal of interest.

Motivation. Emotions send action signals to the muscles and organs of the body to prepare us for to do something. Each emotion carries general motivation for behavior selected from the broad categories of approach, avoid, or attack.

If the change stimulating the emotion seems promising, the usual response is interest or enjoyment, which motivate various approach behaviors to “sense more, learn more, get more.”.

Feelings: The subjective experience of emotions—what they feel like—dominates our conceptions about them. However, this slowest component of emotion processing is only part of the emotional terrain. Trying to understand or change emotions through focus on how they feel is like trying to understand and change intestinal gas through focus on discomfort. Pop-psychologists make that error when they insist on “exploring and expressing” feelings.

The fact is, we cannot explore and express feelings without changing them. Mental focus amplifies and magnifies, creating the psychological equivalent to the observer effect in physics. Moreover, the brain loads into implicit memory other times you’ve experienced the feeling you’re trying to explore or express. This gives historical meaning to your feelings that go beyond the current situation. To complicate matters, the people around you will be focused on the situation and their own emotional responses to it. They are unlikely to give the same meaning to the feelings you’re trying to explore or express.

Read More — ref 653

Another Description of Emotions, From — Key elements of emotions (ref365)

Emotions rule our daily lives. We make decisions based on whether we are happy, angry, sad, bored, or frustrated. We choose activities and hobbies based on the emotions they incite.

There are three key elements:–
• Subjective experience
• Physiological response
• Behavioral response.

Subjective experience — While we have broad labels for emotions such as “angry,” “sad,” or “happy,” your own experience of these emotions may be much more multi-dimensional, hence (?) subjective.

Physiological Response — Many of the physiological responses you experience during an emotion, such as sweaty palms or a racing heartbeat, are regulated by the Sympathetic Nervous System

Behavioural response — Many expressions are universal, such as a smile to indicate happiness or a frown to indicate sadness. Socio-cultural norms also play a role in how we express and interpret emotions.

Emotions, Feelings, Moods vary in terms of Intensity and Duration.

Feelings are private to the person (but facial expressions show up!)

Emotion is distinguished from “mood” based on the period of time that they are present; a mood lasts longer than an emotion.

Interchangeably used with emotion, “affect” is the experience of emotion, and is associated with how the emotion is expressed (as seen on facial expressions or hand gestures).

Basic emotions possess motivational properties of their own. For example, happiness motivates a person to achieve better performance.

They result:
• From the Senses — from the Outside or the Body, or
• From the Sub-Conscious.
• A combination

If a “threat” is encountered then an immediate Instinctive Response may be required — But early on any Response/Emotion may be modified by our Emotional Intelligence capabilities — this may include perceiving an emotion in one or more other individuals

Fig 220 —  ref788

Third view on emotions, From — ref788 Emotions and Energy

What we think of as emotion is the experience of energy moving through the body. This is generally felt as sensations of contraction such as tension or expansion such as calm. The Latin derivative for the word emotion, ‘emotere’, literally means energy in motion.

Understanding that emotions are energy implies that they are fluid, moving resources meant to be felt and released versus suppressed and ignored. The latter is the true culprit of low emotional intelligence and stress burnout.

The emotional brain is considered to have executive power in the brain. It influences all decision making, thought processes, memories, and present experiences. Your ability to understand, deal with, and effectively use your emotional energy is vital to your happiness levels.

The sensations you feel in your body hold the key to unlocking limiting patterns, transforming stress, and generating lasting happiness. Your body gives a constant stream of reliable information about your experience in the form of sensation. It’s a library of who you are at the deepest level, including all that has happened to you and all that you dream about. Understanding your body sensations will transform your life.

An Emotions often leads to thoughts — on what they mean, what to do about them, etc)

Sensory and emotional information is recorded into memory first; thoughts and perceptions, second. This distinction provides clues for increasing emotional intelligence while pointing out the limitations of purely thought-based approaches.

Read More — ref788 Emotions and Energy

To Contents
Habits, Competence, Personality

We have to learn to walk, talk, and so on, and in particular adapt to our social environment — these Habits enables us to cope readily with day to day activities.

Learning is enabled by processes known as Neural Plasticity — ref23 (2019)

Modern research has demonstrated that the brain continues to create new neural pathways and alter existing ones in order to adapt to new experiences, learn new information, and create new memories.

There are two types of neuroplasticity —

  • Functional plasticity: The brain’s ability to move functions from a damaged area of the brain to other undamaged areas.
  • Structural plasticity:The brain’s ability to actually change its physical structure as a result of learning.

A major part of learning is the generation of an extensive range of habits that we need to function – these are enhanced as we extend our capabilities.

We also use our habits to behave as we are expected to behave

Neuroscientists have traced our habit making behaviours to a part of the brain called the Basal Ganglia, which also plays a key role in the development of emotions, memories and pattern recognition.

Decisions, meanwhile, are made in a different part of the brain called the Prefrontal Cortex.

But as soon as a behaviour becomes automatic, the decision making part of your brain goes into a sleep mode of sorts    “In fact, the brain starts working less and less,” says Duhigg. “The brain can almost completely shut down. … And this is a real advantage, because it means you have all of this mental activity you can devote to something else.”

Unfortunately, we are likely to learn Bad Habits, such as Addictions – our nature leaves us vulnerable! Bad habits can take a hefty toll on your health and happiness.

Longer term emotions/Moods are habit like and they can dominate our characters, in the extreme as Depression, GAD, etc.

Habits come direct from the Non conscious, and we are generally not Conscious of them.

William James, the American philosopher and Psychologist described the overwhelming importance of habits as follows    “All our life, so far as it has definite form, mass of habits practical, emotional, and intellectual, — systematically organized for our weal or woe and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever that may be”.

Developing a complex of general competences is essential for day to day living, Other competences can be developed to support individual aspirations and social roles.

Each habit is re-enforced through use and may be lost if neglected. This has been described as “Use It or Lose It”.

A Habit is generally beneficial — The person with the habit can choose to stop using it, and will subsequently stop successfully if they want to.

The use of Emotional Intelligence — the result of experience — learning from the dire results of over reacting to situations, learning to apply an extended Mindfulness, etc. should lead to less stressful outcomes — ref808, habits how they form and how to break them.



An overview of Personality    ref485 

Some of the other fundamental characteristics of personality include:

  • Consistency:There is generally a recognizable order and regularity to behaviours. Essentially, people act in the same ways or similar ways in a variety of situations.
  • Psychological and physiological:Personality is a psychological construct, but research suggests that it is also influenced by biological processes and needs.
  • It impacts behaviours and actions:Personality does not just influence how we move and respond in our environment; it also causes us to act in certain ways.
  • Multiple expressions:Personality is displayed in more than just behaviour. It can also be seen in our thoughts, feelings, close relationships, and other social interactions.

Fig.199  ref 617 — showing a summary of the traits and attitudes

So we have inherent and learned abilities & Traits . These are “on standby ” in our Mind —

Freud’s Personality Theory (1923) visualised the Psyche (Mind) structured into three parts — the Id, Ego and Superego, all developing at different stages in our lives — ref907


According to Freud’s model of the Mind/Psyche, the Id is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories, the Super Ego operates as a moral conscience, and the Ego is the realistic part that mediates between the desires of the Id and the Super Ego.

From    ref970

The first 4 are Needs of Personality —
1          Certainty    Safety, predictability, etc
2          Uncertainty or Variety    Excitement, surprise, etc
3          Significance    the need for meaning, self esteem, etc
4          Connection and love, etc
From ref977 — Personology

  1. The study of personality from the holistic point of view, based on the theory that an individual’s actions and reactions, thoughts and feelings, and personal and social functioning can be understood only in terms of the whole person.
  2. The theory of personality as a set of enduring tendencies that enable individuals to adapt to life, proposed by Henry Alexander Murray. According to Murray, personality is also a mediator between the individual’s fundamental needs and the demands of the environment.

Personality Disorders    ref486


Personality disorders form a class of mental disorders that are defined by long lasting, rigid patterns of thought and behaviour. Because of the inflexibility and pervasiveness of these patterns, they typically cause serious problems and issues in a person’s life from time to time.

While most people recognize traits of themselves in many different personality disorders, a person who qualifies for a personality disorder diagnosis will exhibit most such traits of a disorder, and these traits cause significant issues in the person’s life.

To Contents
Aspirations, Society

ref1002 — Entrepreneurial Aspirations

  • Necessity motive. Indicate participation in entrepreneurial activity primarily because they have no other options for work.
  • Independence motive. For whom independence is the main motive for becoming an entrepreneur.
  • Increase wealth motive. Who indicate that their prime motive for being or becoming an entrepreneur is to increase wealth.

For policy makers our results imply that they should be aware that entrepreneurs motivated to start a firm out of necessity or to strive for independence are not likely to have high ambitions for their business

To Contents
Human Life Stages

Each generation has to grow from a zygote — the single cell resulting from the fertilization of the female egg cell by the male sperm cell.

The basic program for our development is in our individual DNA.

See Genetic human traits  — ref 619

A controversial recent development in genetics focuses on Gender Issues — Ref643   &  ref955


Take Gender — Ref643 — brain is a mix male and female

To Quote: “The idea of a unified ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ personality turns out not to describe real people — It describes stereotypes to which we constantly compare ourselves and each other, but more people are ‘gender non-conforming’ than we generally realize.”

Environmental influences such as prenatal or early-life stress can feed back into this process, again altering how the brain develops.

And — Ref 646 Gender & sexual orientation — Gender begins with the assignment of our sex – However, a person’s gender is the complex interrelationship between three dimensions —

  • Body: our body, our experience of our own body, how society genders bodies, and how others interact with us based on our body.
  • Identity: our deeply held, internal sense of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither; who we internally know ourselves to be.
  • Expression: how we present our gender in the world and how society, culture, community, and family perceive, interact with, and try to shape our gender.

Gender expression is also related to gender roles and how society uses those roles to try to enforce conformity to current gender norms.

  • Expression: how we present our gender in the world and how society, culture, community, and family perceive, interact with, and try to shape our gender.

Each of these dimensions can vary greatly across a range of possibilities. A person’s comfort in their gender is related to the degree to which these three dimensions feel in harmony!

Take Gender and Sexual Orientation: Gender and sexual orientation are two distinct aspects of our identity. Gender is personal (how we see ourselves), while sexual orientation is interpersonal (who we are physically, emotionally and/or romantically attracted to).

Evolution has provided us with the means by which a human grows, learns and develops. Our “Apps” include a wide range of the good habits/skills — crucially those needed to relieve us of having to consciously work through routine daily activities — walking, etc.

Initially, we are dependant — helpless — for the first few years.  But generally blessed with the abilities to learn the complex basics in preparation for later sophistication


The early learning rate is curtailed to allow appropriate re enforcement, by practice.


We are a combination of Body and Mind.  These are interlinked so that the Body is maintained and responsive to our Needs.

The Mind has to deal with what we perceive whether from the Body and/or our Environs.

The context is a changing, developing one, possibly subject to toxic stresses, demands, failures and successes.

AGE STAGES and Hazards

Human Development has important stages — notably the early months and years — and adolescence.

In most Societies good parenting is largely left to chance.


Human Development has important stages — notably the early months and years — and adolescence.

At adolescence there is a re alignment of the brain to cater for our emerging dispositions.

These seem likely to be carried forward to adulthood.

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!)

Although no one can directly remember their earliest experiences, in infancy, it is back in this forgotten time that “personality disorder” may develop    See Personality Disorders —  ref486

However, far more than the 13 per cent of people have some personality disorder – all of us do, to some extent, in some situations.

The psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott claimed that this could result from the sort of care given and responded to in the first few months of life.

80 per cent of criminals and about 13 per cent of the general population are significantly affected by personality disorder – but so do the majority of high achievers, be they in politics, business, the arts or show business.

A baby starts of as a self centred being in need of socialisation

A main focus is on emotional and social aspects, developed over 3 early stages:

Aspects of personality are developed in the following stages  ­­–

  • Becoming aware – to 6 months
  • Developing how to Relate to others – to 3 years
  • Realising a Conscience (morality) – 3 to 6 yrs

These are stages for sound development, but also when development can go wrong — ref749

The theory separates these working models of relationships into two main categories, secure attachment and insecure attachment, according to the degree of safety and security present within the relationships represented by the models. The category of insecure attachment is further subdivided based on how children react to others as a result of their working models: ambivalent,  avoidant, or disorganized .


Sound development are as follows

  • Becoming more aware of being separate from parents.
  • Recognising strangers and can react in a distressed way if stranger tries to interact too quickly.
  • Starting to be able to distract themselves when things go wrong.
  • More persistent in pursuing their own goals especially in play.

The Psychologist Oliver James visualised an ideal/Mature Human Adult 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 person would be the beneficiary of sound genes, thoughtful nurture, a safe environment freedom from mental and physical ailments and addictions, etc. — This Utopia, even if wholly desirable, would take generations to achieve.

But our ability to learn these and further life enhancing Apps also means that we can acquire bad Apps – damage prone habits and antagonizing attitudes. These may emerge in response to unfortunate experiences such as Toxic Stresses.

ref973 — Maslow Needs change with age

  • Maslow expanded the field of humanistic psychology to include an explanation of how human needs change throughout an individual’s lifespan, and how these needs influence the development of personality.
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs ranks human needs from the most basic physical needs to the most advanced needs of self actualization. A person must acquire and master each level of need before proceeding to the next need.
  • Maslow studied the personalities of self actualizers and found they had many things in common; he believed self actualizers indicate a coherent personality syndrome and represent optimal psychological health and functioning.

Maslow’s ideas have been criticized for their lack of scientific rigor, as well as their Western cultural bias.

From ref976 — How our teenage years shape our personalities

While the roots of our personality can be traced all the way back to infancy, I know there will plenty of change to come, especially when our twins become teenagers.

That’s because our teenage years are a time of rapid change.

From ref978 — Needs and problems of adolescence  (Indian Source)

A need is a tension within an organism which must be satisfied for the well being of the organism. When a need is satisfied the tension is released and the individual experiences satisfaction.  There are certain basic needs which are functioning in every individual. They are  broadly classified into Physiological needs and Psychological needs.

Primary or Physiological Needs:  The fulfilment of physiological needs are inevitable because they are concerned with the very existence of the individual. The need for oxygen, need for water and food, need for rest and sleep, need for sex gratification etc.  are the important physiological needs.

Secondary or Socio Psychological Needs:  Needs that are associated with socio cultural environment of an individual are called secondary needs. They are acquired through social learning and their satisfaction is necessary for the psychological well being of the individual.

The important socio psychological needs are as follows:

  1. Needs for security : The adolescent need emotional, social and economic security in addition to physical security. The person who lacks the feeling of security may become maladjusted. The need for social security is associated with man’s desire for gregariousness.
  2. Need for Love : Affection or love is one of the most basic psychological needs of the adolescents.  Adolescents have a strong desire to love and to be loved. The   individual  who is not loved will not deep proper attitudes and concepts concerning his own worth. Proper love will strengthen the individuals feeling of security.
  3. Need for approval : There is a carving for  recognition in adolescents. His ego gets satisfaction when he is recognized and approved. The adolescent desire that he should be a centre of attraction for the opposite sex and his abilities, intelligence and capacities should be recognized by others. The teachers should find out the field in which the pupil can shine very well and which help him to earn admiration from others.
  4. Need for freedom and independence :   Adolescence is a time when the individual is striving to wean himself away from  the control of parents and elders.  He want the right to give expression to his feelings, emotions and ideas. He feels  annoyed and unpleasant when restriction is imposed on him.
  5. Need for self expression and achievement :  Every adolescent has an inherent desire for the expression of his potentialities. He may have a poet, musician, painter etc. hidden within him and he want to get adequate opportunities for the expression of his potentialities. He experiences satisfaction when he succeeded in them and failure makes him depressed and disappointed. Hence the curriculum should be appropriate for every pupil so as to permit achievement for him.

To Contents
The Body

Our control systems are based on our Central Nervous System, our Peripheral Nervous System Autonomic and Somatic Elements and our Endocrine (Hormonal) System. There is also the so called brain in the Gut    ref156

The Autonomous Nervous System detects, generally through one or more specific Senses, when there is a Need. If, for example, it was to deal with the need to eat, and we do so, then we become aware of pleasurable feelings    the “reward” system!. When the need fulfilled the “inhibiting” system takes over, and we should feel satisfied.

Meeting the basic needs for sustenance, shelter, safety, has enabled the development of social groupings.

For “How Nerves work see    ref831

 The Senses

Our Nervous System is aware of our Environment, our current Mood. and our Body through a range of Senses.  Earlier we use to refer to our five Senses   Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell & Touch. We now recognise a fuller list (21 items in a recent count): Thirst, Hunger, Ability to sense heat and cold, Pain, Balance, etc.    Ref79

As we experience life, our Senses, Needs, and our complex of Memories (Conscious and Nonnconscious) contend for Our Attention.

Our Senses evolved to provide data for our complex Nervous Systems    partly through our Central Nervous System and partly through our Autonomic Nervous System, in order

  • To deal with some safety issues and to provide appropriate reflex responses  there is a fast response system.
  • To deal with the multi tasking of running a complex organism  an automatic, mainly sub conscious system
  • To deal with extracting “meaning” of what is being sensed, and decide what to retain in memory
  • To balance this data with the complex of information and competences from previous experiences, and current attitudes

 Although some people are fascinated by the brain on its own merits, a growing number are looking to psychology in order to better their own study skills and cognitive performance.


ref962 — The role of the Limbic System in human communications

ref963 — Limbic System and Communications

The Nervous System

  • Senses your external and internal surroundings
  • Communicates information between your brain and spinal cord and other tissues
  • Coordinates voluntary movements
  • Coordinates and regulates involuntary functions like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.

The brain is the centre of the Nervous System, like the microprocessor in a computer.

The spinal cord and nerves are the connections, like the gates and wires in the computer. Nerves carry electrochemical signals to and from different areas of the nervous system as well as between the nervous system and other tissues and organs.

Nerves are divided into four classes:
1. Cranial nerves connect your sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, mouth) to your brain
2. Central nerves connect areas within the brain and spinal cord
3. Peripheral nerves connect the spinal cord with your limbs
4. Autonomic nerves connect the brain and spinal cord with your organs (heart, stomach, intestines, blood vessels, etc.)

The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, including cranial and central nerves.

The Peripheral Nervous system consists of the peripheral nerves, and the autonomic nervous system is made of autonomic nerves. Fast reflexes, like removing your hand quickly from a heat source, involve peripheral nerves and the spinal cord.

Thought processes and autonomic regulation of your organs involve various parts of the brain and are relayed to the muscles and organs through the spinal cord and peripheral/autonomic nerves.

The second brain in the gut — ref156

The Enteric nervous system or intrinsic nervous system consists of a mesh like system of neurons that governs the function of the gastrointestinal tract. It is called the second brain because while it communicates with the brain, it also has the ability to act independently and influence behaviour.

It’s estimated that there are between 400 and 600 million neurons in your gut –  You’re not conscious of your gut thinking, but the system produces about 95% of the Serotonin and 50% of the Dopamine found in your body.

Researchers at Monash University have looked at the appetite hormone ghrelin, which is produced in the second brain in your gut and plays a role regulating eating behaviour, weight gain and metabolism. It also helps with building muscle mass, reduces anxiety and enhances memory. Receptors for the hormone are found throughout the body, including in the brain in your head. Ghrelin can produce an anxiety response that goes away when you eat.

Neural Communication   Bio Feedback

The endocrine system, are responsible for exerting control over all of the others so as to maintain the relatively stable internal environment required for normal cell functions. The endocrine system exerts control through the release of hormones and other chemical messengers that alter cell activities.

The nervous system exerts control by way of nerve impulses and the release of neurotransmitters that either inhibit or excite target cells.

Other cellular functions are altered by a combination of nervous and endocrine elements working together as a neuro-endocrine control mechanism

Some functions of the human body are voluntarily controlled; that is, you can wilfully initiate, modify, or stop the function. Movements of the skeleton, as in walking or lifting a weight begin by voluntarily activating motor nerves that stimulate contraction of the appropriate skeletal muscles. Once the movement begins, control over the strength and speed of contraction, alternate contraction and relaxation of opposing muscles and coordination with other muscles acting at the same joints is shifted to involuntary neural control centers in the brain and spinal cord so that the intended movement proceeds normally while the brain’s attention is directed elsewhere. In other words, you need not concentrate on contracting and relaxing flexors and extensors at the appropriate time to continue walking. Instead, you can direct your attention to where you are going. However, the movement may be voluntarily speeded up, slowed, or stopped when it becomes desirable to do so. Thus, neural control of skeletal muscle is partially voluntary and partially involuntary. The division of the nervous system that exclusively controls skeletal muscle is called the somatic motor system.

The majority of body functions are involuntarily controlled. Most of the time we are unaware of the control because we do not have to voluntarily initiate it, although we may be able to sense the effects of control. For example, when core body temperature rises as we exercise, sweating becomes noticeable as the body attempts to cool itself, but we do not have to think about the need to sweat before we exercise, during the exercise, or after the exercise. Other examples of involuntarily controlled processes include gastrointestinal movements and secretion in response to ingested food, alteration of airway diameters in the lungs in response to the need for more or less air, increased formation of urine by the kidneys in response to increased drinking, and so forth. The part of the nervous system that controls involuntary functions of the body’s organs is called the Autonomic nervous system (ANS).

The Sympathetic nervous system is sometimes called the “fight or flight’ system. It heightens awareness, dilates pupils of the eyes, increases heart rate, dilates airways, increases breathing rate and depth, increases blood flow to skeletal muscles, and causes many other internal changes that prepare the body to preserve itself in the face of a short term or acute stress.

The objective of Parasympathetic nervous system control is to maintain the relatively stable internal environment of the body on a daily routine basis. When we rest from exercise, increased Parasympathetic activity reduces heart rate and slows breathing. During and after a meal, parasympathetic stimulation of the organs of the digestive system increases secretion of digestive enzymes and increases contraction of smooth muscles that move the contents of the stomach to the small intestine, and from there to the large intestine. This allows for an orderly, routine processing of ingested food from which we can extract and absorb nutrients.

Both divisions of the ANS are active all of the time, displaying what is called autonomic tone. Their effects on organs generally oppose one another. As mentioned earlier, increased sympathetic stimulation increases heart rate but increased parasympathetic stimulation decreases heart rate. The heart rate at any given time of the day or night reflects the dominance of one division over the other at that time. Each division of the ANS also directly inhibits activity in the other. A sympathetic increase in heart rate occurs in part because parasympathetic cardio inhibitory nerves are themselves inhibited by sympathetic nerve cells and vice versa when parasympathetic dominance occurs.

For decades, many people believed that Autonomic control of body functions could not intentionally or wilfully be altered. A considerable amount of evidence now exists suggesting this is not true. Some of the effects of autonomic control can be altered through biofeedback training. The underlying principle of biofeedback is that we have the innate ability and potential to influence autonomic control of body functions through exertion of the will and mind. Biofeedback training is a learning process whereby people exert conscious control over physiological processes controlled by the autonomic nervous system. During the training periods, a biologic signal that changes with altered autonomic tone, such as the heart rate or skin temperature of the subject, is monitored and “fed back” to the subject in real time as a visual or auditory signal that the person can use to enhance a desired response. The use of a heart rate monitor during biofeedback training in stress management is a good example.

Mental or psychological Stress increases sympathetic activity and decreases parasympathetic activity, resulting in an increase in heart rate, an increase in blood pressure, reduced gastrointestinal functions, and so forth. Over the short term, these changes may be beneficial, but when they are prolonged or become chronic, they become detrimental and can cause disease. Using heart rate biofeedback techniques, an affected person can be taught to relax and to increase parasympathetic tone and thus reduce sympathetic activity, evidenced by a decrease in heart rate. Initially, a machine monitors heart rate and provides the feedback signals that help the subject develop voluntary control. Eventually, the subject is able to recognize and control reactions to stress on his own by recalling and eliciting the same relaxed state of mind used in the biofeedback laboratory when he is at home or at work.

2 thoughts on “Human Nature

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