Fruit Flies and Fear



“Despite these observations, it was not possible to conclude the flies were experiencing fear, Dr. Anderson said.”

“We can only know that by verbal report,” he said. “So we can’t scientifically study feelings in any creature but a human.”

Or, we could simply observe behavior without injecting human thoughts into the minds of the animal (or insect) that we are observing (this requires an immediate-moment manner of analysis) and go on to deduce that the most logical definition of fear is that it is the collapse of a state of attraction. In other words, it’s not elemental, it’s not one of the prime emotions, it is closely related to emotion, but it is not emotion.

And we don’t need the verbal report of the individual to one understand that the balance circuitry is involuntarily invoked whenever the rate of input overwhelms the sensory and processing capacity of the organism. Not to mention that since billions of people worldwide describe that fear and falling are unitary, that’s a pretty substantial”report” if that is what we require. What we need to do is explore through logical analysis the domain of emotion and the relationship of fear to emotion. In contrast treating fear as the provenance of psychology will always prove confounding. An animal (or insect) does not “feel threatened.” This is a human time-centric psychology and is in fact an oxymoron of combining a feeling with a thought (comparing one moment in time with another moment in time), a perspective that becomes more and more challenging as we discover emotional affects in the lower phyla. Rather an animal FEELS sensations of collapse. If these sensations are more intense than the organism can process, this then interrupts a state of attraction without which an organism can’t function and so it attempts to flee that particular frame of reference.

And if we observe that insects conform to these same parameters, this then means that emotion is most likely the universal operating system of consciousness, the most parsimonious explantation for how living beings move about the earth so that their movements as directed by an emotional state of attraction will thereby conform to the movement of energies on earth (thermodynamics and the laws of motion) and in this manner prove adaptive.

While on the surface it may seem open minded to reserve judgment on the nature of fear and what’s going on inside an insect as the scientist quoted is dutifully doing, nonetheless this is not a neutral position. Science is already assuming that fear is an emotion, it is already assuming that emotion is purposive due to intention, it is already assuming that emotion is a neurological phenomenon, and that there are several if not many emotions because these correspond to various neurological structures and neurochemical cocktails, it is already assuming that emotion is a psychology and so is not testing these hidden assumptions while at the same time building its theories and conjectures upon these as its supporting pillars.

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Published May 19, 2015 by Kevin Behan
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2 responses to “Fruit Flies and Fear”

  1. Jamey says:

    Wow! There you go getting to the heart of the matter! No symptoms here; we only deal with the underlying root causes. Maybe this is why I have always felt that understanding our “problems” or “blockages” and being aware of them does not really get at or alleviate them. What these “problems” really do is block the emotional flow as we move through our lives. We live in a society that continually deals with symptoms rather than the source of a situation; heath care, crime, poverty, etc. being some examples.
    Is it maybe that it’s that humans interpret what we feel through an internal maze that doesn’t allow a clear flow of energy and animals without human interference just flow?

  2. Kevin Behan says:

    Yes it reminds me of how children years ago just flowed with the neighborhood dogs. They didn’t think in terms of control, they invited the dog to join them, they offered guidance or yelled and screamed if something came up, but their focus was on doing something not on an ego and test of wills. The dog learned to tag along and get along. We probably all had a dog from our youth that was just so easy compared to what owners struggle with today. I hear that from so many clients.

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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.
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