Get Natural Dog Training on Kindle
Pre-order "The Body Language of Dogs" Book by Kevin Behan
Introducing the Natural Heeler™

Emotion as Bedrock of the Mind

logo-gahmj

Lately there have been dramatic developments in the research on emotion. On one side of this new paradigm is a book by Lisa Barrett entitled “How Emotions Are Made” in which she argues that emotion is not hardwired Ala the classical model to which the likes of Panksepp and Dimasio have profoundly contributed. On the other side are the developments discussed in the article linked below which argues that emotion is a self-regulating type of thermostat based on positive and negative feedback loops which it is argued form the substrate of all emotional experience. These iterative and recursive loops of experience have become the basis of evaluative judgement, the criteria by which emotional values are rendered, as opposed to a high level psychological overview that is the classical view of emotional experience. In this article the primal part of emotion comes first, the complexities of the mind sit upon this template and can only perceive and respond through this template.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4010957/

Gratifyingly, the most profound implications of the new paradigm verifies the immediate-moment theory of Emotion as a virtual force of attraction. However, there are significant and all important distinctions to be highlighted at the same time. While I believe that emotion comes first, and this is virtually what the author here is saying, nevertheless what’s missing in both approaches in the new paradigm is that they see survival and the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain as the base line of well-being, a homeostasis as the base unit of information. And this conceptualization is due to the view that first the individual organism evolves and then the social structure evolved upon this. On a mechanical level this is true to some extent, a chronological view, but once we understand a principle of conductivity (laws of motion, thermodynamics and electromagnetism) as the baseline of information we can see that the complex and the simple are predicated on the same essential of flow, and in order to have flow one must first have a network of interrelated components all operating in conformance to the same laws of nature. In other words, the network in the form of an operating system (principle of conductivity) comes first, and then the individual and its unique and specific range of behaviors manifest the network information into physically embodied social structures. The social software comes first, the structural hardware of sociability follows. In short, the social structure is an expression, a physical manifestation of the basic principles of energy.

I have learned from immediate-moment analysis that a networked-intelligence, i.e. network coherent behavior, is the true baseline of information by which the animal mind adjudges its experience. This is distilled down to the simple mechanics of moving well, a hunger for something inducing the desire to move and which is then moderated by the need to remain upright. (This systems logic is clearly revealed in the intuitive way people speak in their evaluation of an emotional experience. “Let me digest that and see if it feels right.”) All evaluative, self-regulating, feedback driven loops of experience are subordinate to this mandate, a mandate that the most recent advances in Thermodynamics (The Constructal Law) have demonstrated without equivocation to be the basis of evolutionary processes, be it an inanimate or an animate system. What these current approaches miss is that the experience of flow, a principle of conductivity which self-elaborates into complex manifestations of behavior and social structure, is the guiding principle of action, learning and evolution. I think the error these great thinkers are making is trying to understand human emotion without first fully grasping the animal experience. Nonetheless, the paradoxes, inconsistencies and anomalies in the Classic Model of emotion is driving this new wave of research to more closely approximate the immediate-moment manner of experience that is the nature of animal consciousness which is why I’m finding profound correlations in this new way of thinking of emotion.

KTP “While suppressive regulatory strategies abound, it suggests that emotions are better understood as regulating us, providing a service crucial to all semantic language, learning systems, evaluative decision-making, and fundamental to optimal physical, mental, and social health.”

KB: In other words; emotion conveys a systems’ logic in the mind of an emotional being, the individual doesn’t figure out emotion from an individuated point of view.

KTP: “The wisdom of Jeremy Bentham has oft been quoted: “Man has been placed under the governance of two sovereign masters: pleasure and pain.”1

“Despite this insight, philosophers and psychologists remain haunted by the question: What is the biological Junction of emotion? It has been difficult to disentangle emotion from biological drives and physiological responses,2 from motivational appetites and defenses,3 from cognitive appraisals4,5 or moral intuitions6; to make sense of the cultural similarities and differences,7 or to reconcile divergent theories8,9; so difficult, that theorizing about emotion as a functional whole has largely been abandoned. As one critic put it: “My central conclusion is that the general concept of emotion is unlikely to be a useful concept in psychological theory.”10”

KB: An immediate-moment manner of analysis in contrast successfully bypasses this problem and immediately recognizes emotion operating as a system’s wide operating system. It begins with the recognition of emotion (there is only one emotion, a virtual force of attraction generated by the displacement of the hunger/balance continuum of the animal mind) as a functional whole.

KTP: “While emotion is a central component of human health and well-being, traditional approaches to understanding its biological function have been wanting. A dynamic systems model, however, broadly redefines and recasts emotion as a primary sensory system—perhaps the first sensory system to have emerged, serving the ancient autopoietic function of “self-regulation.” Drawing upon molecular biology and revelations from the field of epigenetics, the model suggests that human emotional perceptions provide an ongoing stream of “self-relevant” sensory information concerning optimally adaptive states between the organism and its immediate environment, along with coupled behavioral corrections that honor a universal self-regulatory logic, one still encoded within cellular signaling and immune functions.”

KB: In other words, we have to consider emotion on the architectural level of the body/mind as opposed to a complex psychological construction. Because the human mind can so readily influence emotional experience and can be part of the elaborative process to its more complex expressions (thereby seeming to affirm the construct theory of emotion), human thought process has not been parsed apart from the animal evaluative experience so that time-centric thoughts have remained as essential to emotional experience. While it may be essential to a human beings’ highly nuanced experience of emotion, that doesn’t mean that the high level psychological awareness an individual might have of emotional experience is therefore in any way a fundamental to the experience. I would like to add that the temporally directional arrow of time is incorporated into the thermodynamic nature of change, heat moving toward cool, and that this is the basis of a seemingly time-coherent basis to animal behavior. So it’s not that a sense of Time is necessary, rather it is that a feeling for thermodynamic reality (principle of conductivity) is the basis of an apprehension of Time.

KTP: “The purpose here is to suggest the opposite: That the problem with the traditional approach is that it has been overly specific, narrow, and anthropomorphic. Indeed, emotion theory remains reminiscent of the Sufi tale of the elephant and the blind men,11 with each theorist grasping a portion, but unable to see the phenomenon in its entirety. Yet rather than integration and synthesis, the trend continues of “dissecting the elephant”12 into ever-smaller fragments devoid of coherent biological function. As a result, emotional feelings and behaviors are written off as outdated animal vestiges, “ill-suited to modern exigencies,”13 to be suppressively regulated by one’s conscious rational mind, if not pharmaceutical intervention.”

“It will be argued that our limited ability to suppressively regulate our emotions is because they are actually regulating us, and from a much deeper, wiser, evolutionary evaluative authority.”

KB: Very well put. The human mind has input into the regulatory feedback loops because it has evolved out of these feedback loops. Nevertheless, if a principle of emotional conductivity is not efficiently subscribed to, then an emotional charge is acquired and this then regulates even the highest level of cognitive mind. I understand emotion as a networking faculty that is bigger than the individual and is why an individual cannot ultimately successfully regulate its internal emotional experience by behaving in ways that are not network coherent. The individual achieves integrity through integration with the network.

KTP: “To sketch this ancient function, we must pan much further back in our phylogenetic history, and delve deeper into the biophysical regulatory processes of living systems, tracing the emergent trajectory of the emotional system from its simplest mechanistic roots to its present state of elaborate multi-tiered complexity.”

“To linguistically accommodate the entire functional elephant, we must broadly redefine the category of “emotion” to include “affect” and innate “hedonic” approach/avoid behavior, locating its function in the arena of regulatory signaling and motor control mechanisms. We must specifically focus the inquiry upon feedback loops, recursive, cyclic and reciprocally deterministic, stimulus-response relationships; those that give rise to the earliest forms of “computation”—information processing—in nature; those that inform what will be termed “self-regulated” behavioral agency in organisms as simple as a single-celled bacterium, and those still evident in the cell-signaling cascades that convey identity-relevant information across all levels of organization within complex multicellular organisms—including humans.”

KB: Here is a point of distinction between the immediate-moment understanding of the network as the baseline of information as opposed to the author’s thesis above. Self-regulating homeostasis drive is not the bedrock. Being knocked out of stasis is how the individual organism captures the energy of entropy and reconverts it into Drive energy that is in service to the network, not to the individual’s survival capacity. Obviously the network can’t survive if individuals can’t survive but the integrity/integration function is underwriting the homeostasis impulse.

KTP: “Indeed, building upon these contributions, I propose that emotion can only be envisioned as a unified functional whole when re-conceived as an entire sensory system—a primary somatosensory system that guides biologically adaptive self-regulation. Not a newly evolved or sixth sense but perhaps the first sensory system to have emerged on the evolutionary stage, born of the simple molecular stimulus-response networks that regulate metabolic and genetic activity and crude sensorimotor behavioral control in single-celled organisms. Such primal self-regulatory “sensations” are functionally homologous to, and still manifest within, cell-signaling mechanisms in multicellular organisms that integrate and maintain “the self” at all levels of complexity—rooted as deeply as those that control the navigation and differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into their various tissue environments during embryonic self-development. In other words, while they may have emerged as sensorimotor regulators in the earliest life forms, the same principle mechanisms still constitute the signaling and communication systems, the self-organizing language—the self-regulatory music, if you will—of the human body.”

KB: In other words, there aren’t many emotions, there is but one emotion. And if these deep processes which are integrated energetically into their surroundings are the basis of the self, and are the basis of the mind, then the animal does not make a distinction between what’s going on outside versus what’s going on inside. And therefore it’s sense of its Self would be a construct of its surroundings, a part of its surroundings, not something separate and distinct from its surroundings. When our immune or digestive system recognizes something as not of the self, we experience a profound wave of revulsion, of expulsion. We do not think of it conceptually as not of our self. If it can’t be digested and we can’t remain upright, then it is not of our Self. Concurrently, if an external variable can be ingested and we can remain upright, then it is of our Self.

KTP: “In whatever form of “subjective experience” these original sensations may have yielded, in functional terms they would deliver primal perceptions of time, space and self—an inaugural glimmer of a body-self moving within its not-self surroundings, at some point constituting the “feeling of being”44 or “how it feels to be alive.”45 Hence, in far more complex bodies in motion (mammals, other primates, and humans), each emotional feeling perception still reflects “a wave of bodily disturbance,” or the “bodily affections,”2 or “the feeling of what is happening.”46,47”

KB: “a wave of bodily disturbance” Here she almost says it:.i.e. a wave of motion that displaces the organism from a state of stasis. So the “feeling of what is happening” begins with sensations of displacement, from being knocked out of balance. What she is therefore describing is a force-centric mind as opposed to a form-centric mind. And she’s also describing, since this system is so elemental to the functioning of the mind and it’s the basis of the construct of the Self, is that it is an inside-out perspective as opposed to an outside-in intellectual construct of emotional experience. This will ultimately disprove however the conceptualization of the self as a construct separate and distinct from the surroundings. If an organism has a force-centric mind with an inside-out perspective, then a construct of the Self emerges as a function of the surroundings, a part of the surroundings, not as something apart from the surroundings. And this means that if the surroundings cannot conform to a sense of self then the internal emotional system is knocked out of balance in a way that can’t be reconciled and therefore the organism wants to flee that particular site or set of circumstances, or act on the environment and impose a principle of conductivity to regulate its Self. And again, the arrow of Time consideration is already factored in to the Thermodynamics of emotion so the animal mind could recognize the deterioration of flow and the importing of obstacles into the configuration to remove the brake and improve the flow. It would closely approximate an understanding of a chronological kind of change, but the opposite is true. The cognitive understanding of chronology is possible due to the thermodynamic nature of emotion.

KTP: “Key to our discussion, however, is that from their emergence forward, these informational sensations have contained “felt evaluations,”48,49 the symbolic binary opposites that we experience as pleasure and pain, the feel good/feel bad hedonic valence of emotion. These “positive and negative” binary opposites offer real-time computational representations of the ongoing dynamic orchestration of whole-body coherence, with harmonically resonant and dissonant reverberations ringing forth when environmental perturbations require self-regulatory responses. The current proposal is that the binary hedonic logic within these felt evaluations offers nothing less than a biological value system, informing us of universally optimal and deficit states of balanced being and becoming—a natural value system rooted in the biophysical requirements for life itself.”

KB: Again, whole body coherence would depend not on an internal status report per se, but whether or not the internal affective state of the body is resonant or not with external rates of change. What is missing from this analysis but which is apparent to an immediate-moment manner of analyzing behavior without the projection of concepts or thoughts, is that emotional affective states are the same as energy states, i.e. electrical charge, electrical current, magnetic field, electromagnetic attraction and repulsion, etc.,etc.. Information is not a function of a simple binary pleasure or pain experience, if the individual feels resonant with the surroundings and is thus integrating with the network, then any pain endured in this pursuit is perceived of as a positive if it enables the organism to move well relative to emotionally relevant variables in the surroundings. For example, some people enjoy fighting, the pain is enfolded into the overall feeling of integration with their surroundings. So the base information state is a network value, or we could say a principle of conductivity, not a binary pleasure/pain principle.

KTP: “In short, the goal here is to sketch a new image for the box of the puzzle of emotion, one where emotion takes its rightful place as a sense; one depicting common feeling tones on par with colors, tastes, scents and sounds. One in which feeling perceptions, ranging from rudimentary pleasure and pain, through basic joy and sadness, to complex pride, shame, admiration and envy, serve as sensory signals offering an elegant palate of evaluative information about our adaptive fitness in the immediate environment. Indeed, the proposal is not only that emotion should be reframed as a sensory system, but that emotion should also be acknowledged as the biological grandfather of all the senses, and that its hedonic self-regulatory logic remains encoded within all other senses—a simple logic, yet one so crucial as to have been conserved throughout our entire evolutionary history. Acknowledging how our presently elaborate, cognitively enriched, emotional perceptions still bubble up from their ancient self-regulatory wellspring, offers quite profound implications for the medical community, as well as the social sciences in general. Indeed, it allows the scientific construct of emotion to come full circle, rejoining with the so-called naive realism of immediate human experience, yet offering direct inroads to embodied knowledge, bountiful emotional intelligence, social intuition, and even moral reasoning.”

KB: The above is a beautiful statement of emotion.

KTP: “But however elegant, these subjective manifestations cannot be separated from their objective counterpart, for each emotional sensory perception includes both an informational component and a coupled behavioral response. Indeed, in this new view, emotion is ground zero for all sensorimotor stimulus-response relationships, with the hedonic approach and avoid behavioral pattern—a pattern observable from the single celled ameba to the complex human84—serving as the primary empirical justification and departure point for our new story. A crucial point is that this crude sentience is contingent upon, and would follow from, the deterministic behaviors themselves, or as Marienberg put it: “the becoming aware of the capacity to act while acting.”85 In short, identifying the biological function of emotion requires taking Skinnerian behaviorism to all new reductionist levels—an inquiry into how approach and avoid behaviors emerge from the chemistry of living systems. Yet, when equipped with the lens of feedback control theory, the journey affords a primordial peek into the “black box,” offering a clear and detailed functional explanation of how innate (“unconditioned”) stimuli evoke “affect” itself—something decidedly lacking in emotion theory.9”

KB: How unconditioned stimuli evoke affect is not lacking in immediate-moment interpretation. It springs from thermodynamics itself, preyful aspects absorb emotion, predatory aspects reflect emotion. Furthermore, these two values can be combined along an infinitely variable gradient to render all manner of subtle emotional nuance, and yet still without requiring high level cognitive input to do so.

KTP: “This brief introduction begins with a redefinition of emotion within this broadened context, turning next to its biophysical substrates and underlying feedback dynamics, and identifying the source of what will be termed “the self-regulatory code.”

KB: Again, since there can’t be information without a network, “the self-regulatory code” is primarily tuned to network specifications, not self preservation standards. If an organism maintains the network charge, they survive. If they add to the network charge, they flourish.

KTP: “In short, the sensory informational components of emotion can only be appreciated against the backdrop of the in-forming, trans-forming, stimulus-response dynamics of matter in motion.”

KB: Where have we heard this before? Immediate-Moment analysis. Here author is almost saying explicitly that emotion is energy, energy in motion, working according to the laws of nature, from thermodynamics to electromagnetism to the laws of motion.

KTP: “Feedback, in terms of general function, refers to communication and control mechanisms prevalent in both mechanical and organic systems—those that report upon (inform) and alter (transform) the relationship between a given system and its immediate environment.86 Feedback is cyclic, as it occurs in circular stimulus-response loops where the output of a system is fed back into itself, serving as a stimulus for a subsequent round of output responses (See Figure 1, two systems with and without feedback). In this primary mechanical context, however, the term “self” is synonymous with the system in question, whether it be an atom, a molecule, a cell, an organ system, or an organism interacting with its local “not-self” environment. ”

KB: This is a more explicit statement that the Self is not bounded by the individual, that it can extend to the system at large. My point would be that this is not being followed to its logical conclusion, i.e. the self is a function of the surroundings, not apart from it.

“(As Nobel laureate Manfred Eigen suggested: “If you ask where does information come from and what its meaning is, the answer is: information generates itself in feedback loops.”94)”

KB: This resonates with Imm-Mom concept of Temperament as a Circle (recursive feedback loops, a process of elaboration) by which the perception of change becomes information in the mind of the animal. But I’m being more specific, the feedback from all the subsystems is bracketed by the all important feedback loop, Hunger relative to Balance.

KTP: “For now, emotion as a self-regulatory sense emerges because feedback “happens” across the great chain of being, the “noise”107 of its simple computational dynamics having been harnessed by self-replicating systems, and conserved, honed, and elaborated upon by natural selection. ”

KB: The “noise” becomes information through the Hunger/Balance feedback loop.

KTP: “In fact, such a system (thermodynamic work cycle and cell membrane) has been suggested to predate even natural selection, described as “context dependent actualization of potential,”126 or “self-other organization.”127”

KB: Here it is being acknowledged that principles of energy as organizing factors predate natural selection. Therefore were we to find these same principles faithfully replicated in the behavior of animals, we would have to acknowledge that the basic parameters of behaviors and the behavioral traits and physical features that facilitate these behaviors likewise evolved not by natural selection.

KTP: “In fact, since its initial emergence, the emotional sense has undergone tremendous elaboration by natural selection. Its present structure is an elegant tri-level informational hierarchy—from affect to basic to complex feelings—reflecting the generally “triune” structure of the brain,108 yet with each still playing its own uniquely valuable self-regulatory role. But perhaps most importantly, it shows how affect provides the core “hedonic”109 evaluative message, the fundamental “bad-for-me” or “good-for-me” appraisals that we experience as immediate psychological pain or pleasure. Indeed, identifying emotion as our primal self-regulatory sense, restores our innate tether to biologically determined optimal—perhaps non-negotiable—states of life-giving balance.”

KB: Again, what’s missing from Hedonistic formulation is that what-is-good-for-me or bad-for-me must also reflect a network value; I would restate it as: Adding-energy-to-the-network-is-really-really good-for-me.

KTP: “Indeed, this new story strikes at the heart of an ongoing philosophical debate as to the nature and origins of mind. Perhaps related to the original Cartesian divide, the debate concerns whether mindful “cognition” is an exclusive manifestation of a functional brain or whether it is primarily embodied and embedded in an environmental context (ie, references 148-150).148–150 The emotional sensory model suggests that it is both, but that as the locus of the feedback control function, “branes”—environmentally embedded cellular membranes—came before brains in terms of evolution, and their signaling dynamics delivered the first experience of self in space and time. (In other words, it suggests that emotion preceded “cognition” proper and that “sentio ergo sum”—I feel therefore I am—may have been more biophysically accurate.) As such, the sensory feedback model weds the computational, representational, identity and embodiment approaches to the emergence of mind in the singular concept of primary self-regulatory perception. That, which I am arguing, gave rise to the inaugural evaluations within the emotional sense.”

KB: Yes, emotion preceded cognition but no matter how complex the emotional sense may be, the network implications can never be escaped from any cognitive deliberation. There is no information outside the network value system.

KTP: “While controversy remains over which emotions are basic,296 based upon their temporal (feedback) significance, this model suggests joy, sadness, disgust, fear and anger to be the best contenders for the mantle of universal self-regulatory perceptions. These basic emotions are relatively more hardwired, unfolding over the first 6 months of infant development,297,298 with their common appraisal themes delivering more specific information299 about basic life-giving requirements—“hedonic needs”300—and how to fulfill them in the immediate environment.”

KB: This stands in conflict with Barrett’s thesis of constructed emotion.

KTP: “For instance, the appraisal themes of the four basic negative emotions—loss (sadness), imminent danger (fear), contamination (disgust), and disempowering obstacles to agency or social violations (anger)—move us to either change the immediate environmental circumstances or alter our location, to “fight or take flight.” To which I would add: to make right—a catchall term I offer to categorize any sort of adaptive, creative problemsolving response to emotional distress, born of the self-developmental imperative and the approach mode of behavior. Right, in this context, is also healthy.
Instead of suppression or behavioral avoidance, a Right Response (RR) is one that involves an active, adaptive, rebalancing of the ecologically optimal (biophysically favorable) relational state between the organism and the environment. The RR has been captured in the stress literature as problem-focused coping,303,304 or transformational coping,305 as perhaps the most adaptive way of reducing the psychophysiological arousal tension.306 This happens in one of two ways: It can involve an active adaptation of the immediate external environment, which is essentially creative action or “work,” the way we build social and economic capital307 and the way we accomplish cultural evolution.”

KB: Right action means moving well and remaining upright. And if the Self extends to the surroundings then moving in ways that cause others to move well would also fall under Right action.

KTP: “They are the result of many self-constructing309 repetitions through the feedback cycle, the basic themes having been elaborated upon by language, individual learning experiences, self-identifying concepts, and sociocultural schemata (cognitive structures—knowledge, beliefs, rules, habits, rituals, traditions and in-group norms, obtained from one’s foster environment).”

KB: A note of correlation with Lisa Barrett’s constructed emotion thesis.

Want to Learn More about Natural Dog Training?

Join the exclusive and interactive group that will allow you to ask questions and take part in discussions with the founder of the Natural Dog Training method, Kevin Behan.

Join over 65 Natural Dog trainers and owners, discussing hundreds of dog training topics with photos and videos!

We will cover such topics as natural puppy rearing, and how to properly develop your dog's drive and use it to create an emotional bond and achieve obedience as a result.

Create Your Account Today!

Published November 6, 2017 by Kevin Behan
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 responses to “Emotion as Bedrock of the Mind”

  1. Sheri Miller says:

    I have read this article 4 times, trying to take it all in. It’s really wonderful and must be very gratifying for you.

    I am always comparing and contrasting thing to understand them better. I’m assuming you’re aware of the polyvagal theory. Your work with aggressive dogs has many parallels with Peter Levine’s work with trauma patients. But his explanation for why it works is different, I’m assuming because the polyvagalists are not yet thinking along the lines of the network preceding the individual. They talk about social engagement, and the emotions that go along with it, as being a relatively recent addition to the animal world (see the You Tube, Nature’s Lessons in Healing Trauma: An Introduction to Somatic Experiencing, at 4:39). This thinking is important to their work.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmJDkzDMllc

    Could you explain, through the lens of your immediate-moment theory, what this “new” addition in animal evolution is, what role it serves, and how you would explain the behavioral changes they get?

  2. sundogfitz says:

    “The cognitive understanding of chronology is possible due to the thermodynamic nature of emotion.” Wow. I am really trying to let go of preconceived thoughts about time to take this in. Would your interpretation of Pavlovs dogs apply here?

  3. Kevin Behan says:

    I think the Polyvagal theory has some intellectual underpinnings in the classical view of emotion and the “triune brain” in that there are these primordial structures and circuits like a survival tool kit and they are activated when triggered. There may be some many correlates with Panksepp as well. But as Lisa Barrett critiques:

    “The “triune brain,” remains one of the most successful misconceptions in human biology. Carl Sagan popularized it in The Dragons of Eden, his bestselling (some would say largely fictional) account of how human intelligence evolved. Daniel Goleman employed it in his bestseller Emotional Intelligence. Nevertheless, humans don’t have an animal brain gift-wrapped in cognition, as any expert in brain evolution knows. “Mapping emotion onto just the middle part of the brain, and reason and logic onto the cortex, is just plain silly,” says neuroscientist Barbara L. Finlay, editor of the journal Behavior and Brain Sciences. “All brain divisions are present in all vertebrates.” So how do brains evolve? They reorganize as they expand, like companies do, to keep themselves efficient and nimble.”

    Barrett, Lisa Feldman. How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain (p. 81). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    So she sees any brain as an organic whole with all its subsystems integrated into a contiguous system of consciousness and emotional experience. They’re not different layers of complexity depending on when they evolved and then contributed in their own narrow way to emotional experience. In this new paradigm, (the “constructionist view” and if I have it right) there is no single source of emotion, no brain structure, no specific emotional circuit, that can be said to house this or that emotion. It has to be constructed out of the brains “degeneracy” capacity, which means many-into-one. In other words, the emotion of anger can be constructed from many various functions of the brain and then coalesce into the familiar experience of anger, one that can be radically influenced by culture. This suggests to me that there is a wave aspect of brain function which is the real source of consciousness and is how external stimuli and internal affects acquire their basic meaning well before there is any cognitive overlay.

    However with all that said, it sure does look like that darted polar bear has a preprogrammed physiological circuit or bio-neurological structure that reliably de-stressed him as he came out of sedation and which is repeated with every other bear they dart from a helicopter. Also, the construct theory doesn’t actually reflect negatively on the efficacy of the trauma healing techniques because Levine’s work s predicated on the rock bottom foundation of movement and somatic experience and by any measure of analysis these require an integration of the whole brain system whatever it may prove to be.

    In the immediate-moment, I don’t really care about brain structure, neurochemicals, hormones and so on. There obviously is some kind of mechanics. Whereas I recognize emotion as energy (and therefore the stress of trauma is energy as well) and this is completely in line with Levine and the somatic school of thought. For this same reason I don’t care about the age of the structure as no matter when it evolved, it evolved to evolve which means thermodynamics and the laws of motion. These laws are properly executed because the animal mind experiences emotional affects just as if they are electromagnetic phenomenon. This is revealed by imm-mom analysis because I avoid putting any intellectual concepts into the mix and I don’t think the Construct school will be able to ultimately do that.

    I think that ultimately the Construct school is going to have difficulty applying this model to animals. She talks of emotion “concepts” but she doesn’t mean that these are necessarily intellectual, rather they are what she calls a “body budget” composed of all the afferent signals from organs and basic body functions. The brain then makes a prediction and constructs an emotion to fit this scenario, just as the eye will fill in the blanks to make sense of things instantly. Nevertheless my critique is that these body budget scenarios only make sense in terms of the Hunger/Balance continuum. In other words, what makes two different brain operations end up computing for the same emotional experience, would be whether the organism feels grounded or not, whether or not these internal bodily sensations are tripping a feeling of connection or sensations of falling. Same exact neurochemicals and even brain structures, could have completely opposite emotional outcomes for the individual.

    {I should add the following because I’m not sure I answered your fundamental question explicitly enough. I might rephrase it this way: If social engagement is a higher mammalian faculty as discussed by Levine, how could the networked consciousness be the oldest system? I would say that the mechanics of social engagement in humans and other mammals which depends primarily on face-to-face interactions, is a new development in the species evolution. But it was inevitable because of the network enabling effects of emotion that make organisms interact as if they are electromagnetically charged. So deep below the social interplay that depends so much on face-to-face, it is still dependent on these basic network parameters that give the facial interplay emotional value. Certain facial expressions are “open” or “closed,” make the viewer feel “grounded,” “in suspension,” or the opposite, “blocked,” “reflected,” “interruption of flow,” etc.. This is where imm-mom takes issue with these other systems, the basic energetic meaning of any gesture, posture, vocalization or movement, has its root meaning in energetic phenomenon.}

  4. Kevin Behan says:

    Interesting question. Pavlov’s dog is tasting meat without the necessary degree of tactile feedback of something in the mouth to return the system to neutral. So the excess energy becomes stimulatory as if the dog is running in place and we say he anticipates getting the food when that is an inaccurate description. Thermodynamically, the dog’s energy can only go in this one direction, get to ground, warm to cool. This notion of energy going in a specific direction accords the human mind its capacity to elaborate upon this and generate a concept of Time. And so with this concept we then impute intentionality to the dog’s behavior as in anticipation, as well as the notions of territoriality, submission, achieving dominance and so on. This conceptualization tendency causes us to miss the systems logic that is really running the phenomenon of learning and behavior which proceeds according to the principles of Thermodynamics and the laws of Motion.

  5. Brazilian Mutt says:

    Once you commented that Thought and the notion of Time have a common root, Instinct. Would you elaborate that a little more in the light of the thermodynamics of Emotion and/or “This notion of energy going in a specific direction accords the human mind its capacity to elaborate upon this and generate a concept of Time.” ?

  6. Kevin Behan says:

    My theory is that the main function of the human intellect is to make the individual feel separate from their surroundings, ime being the mechanism of conceptualization that solidifies the sense of alienation, and the point to this is to create an action potential. So people feel the compression of Time and Time as a horizon, and the gap between the perspective in the present, and a future oriented perspective, creates energy. It mobilizes an individual’s stress reserves and they are motivated to take action to redress this sense of alienation, make a plan so that the future works out. So it’s an adjunct of thermodynamics, create an action potential to build up force and then motivates action. The reason we conceptualize in terms of a Future is that we notice that all change proceeds in a specific direction, from warm to cool, so there is an arrow. Hope this addresses your question.

  7. Brazilian Mutt says:

    It’s been certainly addressed more than I expected. thanx!
    Guess I was very fixated to the aspects of interruption and collapse of instincts and its derivatives, thus the idea of movement in elaborating a notion of Time sounded a little odd to me. But now it’s got clear and even obvious why stress creates potential for Unresolved Emotion to become RE, the power of the negative to lead to positive and so on. So indeed it seems that all beings are destined to get on back the wave of flow when they fall off it.

Leave a Reply

Close

Join the
NDT Study Group

Now you can join a subscription-based study group specifically for the Natural Dog Training method, which provides a direct line to its founder to ask your questions about its core exercises, raising a puppy right, rehabilitating an aggressive dog, and more.

Learn more

Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
%d bloggers like this: