On Damasio and the Feeling Brain

I really like Damasio, but in the interest of time I’m going to be abrupt because simply put, the brain can’t feel a thing. With all due respect to Dr. Damasio: there’s a reason why we place our hand on our heart when we feel moved. We do not point to our brain and this is because our heart, not our head, is the seat of our feelings. This basic fact should be the lynchpin in any theory of emotion and feelings, the latest in neurological imaging and gene sequencing notwithstanding. (The canine equivalent to human hand-over-heart is also observable in dog behavior as I shall try to make clear with an upcoming sequence of photos.)

Our hand moves to our heart because the middle of our chest is the focal point in our body/mind as the place where we feel our projected physical center-of-gravity (our emotional c-o-g) that physically connects us to our surroundings. This is not a mental phenomenon, it is a visceral one. Physical organisms evolved complex nervous systems in order to render complex elaborations of simple physical phenomena (energy) as the invisible architecture of social structures. In a state of resonance with others or with our surroundings our heart becomes the epicenter of our emotional consciousness. Referencing our heart we are induced into a state of emotional suspension. One can only feel flow in a state of suspension. Flow is the perception of a virtual current of energy between the individual and the surroundings, not that it actually exists, but that it is an elaboration of the internal current (physical affects of emotional experience which Damasio interprets as integral to homeostasis) connecting the two poles in the body/mind. The feeling of flow softens the experience of the e-cog moving through the body after it has been projected onto external objects of attraction so that the movements and impacts of these external elements are likewise being apprehended as part of that overall sensual experience. And if the feeling evolves to be strong enough we feel “swept off our feet” because we are quite literally suspended by our heart (in our animal mind) in a field of mutual attraction.

Heart is where we feel potential energy. Heart orients us to the exact midpoint around which two entrained individuals achieve symmetrical alignment so as to turn their surroundings into a conductive medium. In other words, feelings evolve from emotion in order to turn the environment BACK INTO EMOTION, i.e. a field of mutual attraction that induces its constituents (via their feelings that make them feel conductive) to exploit their setting and thereby add new energy to the system.

The substratum of a subjective experience is not thoughts, but is due to one’s relationship with their physical memory, (the physical cog being the seed of all physical memory) which is simultaneously a feeling of where in the circle, or group, one feels connected. So one hundred people could be riding on a Ferris wheel and as it goes round, some are rising and some are descending and this universal spinning motion is nevertheless rendering a unique subjective impression within any given individual based on where on the circle one happens to find oneself in any given moment. The same energy, the same experience, depending on where in that frame of reference one is, determines the basis of a subjective experience and well before any thought or self-evaluation can ever take place.

It’s imaginable therefore that a subjective view of experience can be rendered far below any mental awareness and which will percolate up at some point, often slowly, until expressed in some kind of action and in the case of humans, can also potentially be grist for self-reflection (but not necessarily). Nonetheless whatever actions result will to some extent move the emotional momentum that’s been invested in the organism and this energy will run its course no matter what the human intellect might come up with as a means of interpreting what they are experiencing. This is because despite whatever thoughts are being pondered, there remains a thermodynamic reality to emotion in conjunction with the principle of conservation, with feelings being its means of implementation by way of syncing up with other like-minded beings, and these laws of nature will do the work they evolved to do no matter what a human being might think about what he is experiencing.

We can think about emotion in any way that we may choose, but nevertheless it will still act on us as if it is a virtual force of attraction, like gravity. We will have absorbed a charge of momentum and until it reaches terminus, it motivates us. And we may think about a state of suspension (feeling) in any way that we may choose, but it still affects us as if we’re suspended within a field of electromagnetism buffeted by arriving waves like a radio receiver and we will be differentiated in its course simply by virtue of our very nature. Our thoughts may distort or deny this energy but this can only serve to build up a charge and sooner or later, and nature has all the time in the world, it will come out on its own terms just as every drop of rain inexorably reaches the ocean no matter how many dams might be erected to hold it back.

So Damasio is studying the nuts and bolts of the neurological machinery by which this emotional dynamic is implemented into action and solely on the level of the individual; but he’s not actually studying the emotional dynamic, i.e. the heart. (To do that one must look at animals and their behavior as an expression of energy. There’s no other way.) We must remind ourselves that there is necessarily neurological machinery because heart can’t move a muscle and so it does indeed require nerve and a central coordinating apparatus to flex tendon, bone and muscle but this doesn’t therefore mean that the neurological mechanics is the source of the emotion or feelings. For example, I believe I could design (with the help of engineers) a doggy robot that could respond to other dogs and people in a way that would perfectly mimic how dogs respond and without any software or preprogramming whatsoever in regards to the core formatting of how the doggy robot would conduct itself and “know” what to do. My doggy robot would manifest complementary traits in response to the situation (or not if the moment was not conductive) and which would conscript other dogs and people into its “wave form” so that as an ensemble they could evolve into complex social actions and structures. The core computation would take place in real time and without preprogramming and would be based on states of energy evoked by batteries, magnetos, compasses, capacitors, and so on embedded in the robot. The process for robot dealing with an actual dog or person would be “written” on the spot in perfect compliance with the emotional conductivity and energetic parameters of the moment and yet even though this would be happening in the deepest recesses of the doggy robot’s “consciousness,” nevertheless I would still need a CPU and software layered on top of all this so that all these energy states could be fed into each other and then mirrored in the “higher” nerve centers in order that this underlying dynamic of “consciousness” could be executed into actual behavior via the hydraulics and appendages of the robot. This software/CPU “nerve center” would constitute the mechanics of implementation but it would not therefore be the source of the doggy robot’s core “consciousness.”

What Damasio terms homeostasis, which he sees as being in service to an individual agenda of survival and overall well-being, I recognize as “emotional ionization” which is in service to an interconnected network agenda, a networked-intelligence. These physical affects of emotional experience are in actuality capturing energy and then later during encounters with others, ultimately converting this captured energy into a “wave form” i.e. social energy.

When two dogs encounter each other, the friction between them will polarize them toward preyful or predator poles so that they differentiate from each other in a complementary way. This immutable tendency towards variability, Damasio misinterprets as homeostasis, when in fact it has nothing to do with stasis but is wholly concerned with flow and renders for each individual a distinctive subjective perception of what it is experiencing. But in the overall one dog has transmitted energy onto the other (predator – – > prey), and sure enough months if not years later the one that manifested prey-like traits (generally mislabeled “submissive”) and which absorbed the energy, then as if out of nowhere becomes predator-like (generally mislabeled “dominant”) in deference to this underlying template which prejudiced each other’s subjective impression of what they’ve experienced, and recruited them in the overarching dynamic by which the network moves energy through the environment to suit its purposes. Meanwhile behaviorism/biology says that respect, appeasement, dominance and submission has happened between A and B. And so while we all observed an obvious transfer of energy when A first met B, we then assume that all this energy somehow went into a mental ether; a psychology, and so we therefore miss that two to three years later that internalized energy in B has then finally emerged in some vigorous expression of action. A spring inside dog B was coiled, energy captured, and then released, energy returning to the flow.

Differentiating into complementary traits in order to turn environmental inputs into social energy; causes individuals to affect their environment so as to capture new energy. Feelings are not subjective (unique to that individual) in terms of being dependant on introspection or self-reflection, experience is subjective and unique to an individual because it is immutable that individuals will manifest these primary traits, two beings cannot experience the same moment the same, and then at some point exchange them if they create a true social framework.
The problem Damasio runs into with a top down, thought-centric model is how then to bring animals into the emotional fold because if they aren’t thinking, then they aren’t experiencing a feeling. And so we end up with a bifurcated model with body split from mind, animal from human; and human culture falling outside the domain of natural evolution.

An animals’ sense of its “self” derives from its relationship to its physical center-of-gravity which via Pavlovian conditioning evolves into an emotional center-of-gravity that is then “projected” onto complex objects of attraction so that given the bipolar, two-brain makeup of an animal, complex stimuli can be broken down into simple energetic conductors (what Damasio terms “emotionally competent stimuli”), and this then serves to help the projecting individual become the equal and opposite to such a complex object of resistance/attraction. This means that an animal can’t experience its “self” except through an external source of displacement, in other words, the animals’ identity depends on the external environment affecting it physically rather than via mental thought, or via an impression or reference of its “self” as something distinct and separate from its surroundings and then relative to its surroundings.

Damasio treats fear as an emotion, and as an irreducible aspect of experience, when with but a little introspection one can see that fear can’t possibly be a basic element on the periodic chart of emotions, but rather a compound construct several steps removed from emotion. For fear to be experienced, first there must be a state of attraction (emotion) as well as a sense of flow (feeling) that then collapses by an interrupting agent (construed by animal as predatory aspect) and the resulting sensations of falling (instinct) in the absence of grounding render the composite experience we understand as fear. All one has to do to verify this thesis is simply take note of what they experience when seeing a trooper suddenly looming in the rear view mirror.

A theory of stasis is a two-dimensional linear system that cannot explain the infectiousness of emotion. We can see that if someone laughs or vomits, others (because they involuntarily project their e-cog into the forms of their fellow persons) experience an involuntary reflex to emulate such behavior. Yet a supposition of maintaining stasis would suggest the opposite. How is vomiting in the absence of an actual toxin in the body returning the observing individual to a state of stasis? Rather it is upsetting an individual already in a state of stasis. That would be like riding a bike in a group and upon seeing someone fall off their bike then having to resist an overwhelming compunction to fall off in kind. But emotion is about flow rather than stasis, and so we emotionally project our e-cog into others in order to maximize flow, which is why we feel a simpatico infectiousness with laughter/vomit as an irresistible feature of our emotional nature, and then simultaneously we experience no urge to fall off our bike if our riding companion were to founder. The fundamental purpose of emotion is flow rather than stasis.

The basis of a “self” is resistance to acceleration, the degree to which when some force acts on a self, that self is capable of reflecting that energy back at that acting agent. This services the network’s impulse for complexity. Without that sense-of-self, then a feeling can’t elaborate from the underlying and fundamental state of mutual attraction that is the substratum of all consciousness and which compels organisms to differentiate into complementary traits.

The problem with a mental approach to emotion is that it leads to a sterile and bifurcated model because it is always preoccupied with the machinery of emotion rather than the emotional dynamic itself, which is the inculcation of virtual states of energy (gravity/electromagnetism) in consciousness, perception and experience. So Damasio sees culture as distinct and apart from nature, the brain as distinct and apart from the body – – and so then where is the role of the heart, the physical center-of-gravity, the symmetry of the skeletal arrangement, the tension between the dynamic demands of internal organs – – in the role of the mind?
A mental model of emotion is mechanical and ultimately denaturing and it will logically follow that taking drugs to numb an individual to what they are feeling will be seen as therapeutic since the mental machinery is always reducible to chemicals.

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Published January 31, 2010 by Kevin Behan
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19 responses to “On Damasio and the Feeling Brain”

  1. Heather says:

    Kevin, This is such exciting material, the explanation about statis/flow is especially illuminating. It is interesting that the theorists tend to focus on the “mind in the head” of one person. They don’t extrapolate to look at the consequences of that theory in the universe of which every person is a part (in particular other social beings). I wonder if that is a function of their narrow interests or their deeply held beliefs about man and animals (ie, religion), or for different reasons (eg, funding $$).

    While it would be exciting for NDT to get widespread attention, and not just in dog training circles, I fear that if “human”-focused academic thinking did latch onto the ideas, really ghastly experimentation on dogs would be the unfortunate result.

  2. Burl says:

    I googled ‘whitehead + emotion’ and this old blog came up
    There are many of Whitehead’s quotes on the most pervasive entity in the universe – emotional feeling. They is quite a bit of resonance with your emotional energy statements.

    I know much of his writing is hard to decipher, but I also have trouble with yours too. I will continue attempts to assimilate you both.

    Note that for Pirsig, valuation is the all-important universal happening. I think it is easy to say that emotions are physical valuations of experience. Valuation is equally pervasive for Whitehead as well.

    BTW, Dewey write on James’ and Darwin’s emotion theories http://www.brocku.ca/MeadProject/Dewey/Dewey_1894a.html

  3. kbehan says:

    I don’t understand much of what Whitehead says, although some of it sounds quite right. My goal is to help people see what I’m talking about in the things that dogs do and the manner by which they learn, and then it becomes easy to understand. I’m saying something quite simple. Dogs in their interactions with the world and others feel gravitational forces, their actions correspond to the laws of motion, they feel electrical forces and electromagnetic fields and these various states is the basis of their consciousness. Their complex doings and social structures are merely physical embodiments of the laws of nature. All one has to do is push two magnets together, better yet turn them into dog A and dog B by drawing a head and tail on the north and south poles respectively, and see them flip polarity to form one magnetic domain. This is what we can see two doggy buddies do every day when they meet and greet and then combine their collective energies without any boundary between their “selves.” Simply by purging all human thought out of such interactions our perception shifts and all the evidence falls into place. It is truly that simple.

  4. kbehan says:

    Thanks for your encouragement. I don’t know if I can convince a behaviorist or biologist. I’m counting on physicists and then a grass roots bubble-up from below model driven by the average dog owner. Also the good news is that by adopting an energy theory, one really doesn’t have to do any invasive experiments. All we have to do is observe animals doing what they do, apply the appropriate statistical analysis and the appropriate mathematical expressions of physics would follow. If my energy theory is true, then because energy moves freely between form and not at random, by applying the appropriate laws of nature to what we are observing we can therefore see inside the mind of the animal just as we can now see inside the atom by way of understanding those same laws of nature.

  5. Burl says:

    What scientists refer to as laws are really what they observe to be the most probable habits of behavior of objects in their field of study.

    The laws of physics (gravity EM waves, mechanics, etc.) are not very relevant in influencing the organic molecules and cellular activities studied in biochemistry, nor do they impact genetics in biology, nor psychic behavior in animals. This is why the separate sciences can legitimately ignore one another and still achieve great success.

    Kevin, I think the physicists will shed little light on our dogs’ (or our) behavior.

  6. Heather says:

    Burl, I think Kevin is saying just the opposite…it’s all about the physics…

    I don’t think the sciences really ignore each other, it is more of a forest-for-the-trees thing, or perhaps more accurately, any one person is only going to be able to look at so many trees in his lifetime, not enough time, not enough processing power.

  7. Christine says:

    Speaking of physics, I just have to share this. Enjoy!

    From the USM Southworth Planetarium
    “Somewhere out there….”

    February 2, 2010
    Herding Quantum Cats

    Some have derided it as the “cruelest thought experiment ever devised.” Others have dismissed it as so much frivolous mind play. Still others find within it a keen insight developed by a brilliant man seeking to understand the quantum world’s enigmatic machinations. Let’s regard the thought experiment now, with a vow to defer any judgments until later in the article. This thought experiment is called “Schrodinger’s Cat,” after Erwin Schrodinger (1887-1961), the Austrian physicist who developed it.

    Imagine a cat.

    Some intrepid soul manages to trap a cat in a steel container. Enclosed with the cat are a radioactive material, a sealed flask of hydrocyanic acid, and a Geiger-counter mechanism that shoots a metal dart each time the counter detects radioactive decay. The radioactive material is to one side of the Geiger-counter mechanism; the hydrocyanic acid flask is to the other side. Despite its natural curiosity, the wise cat maintains a safe distance from these strange objects. Unfortunately for said cat, if even one atom of the radioactive material decays, the Geiger counter will detect the emission, causing a metal dart to break the hydrocyanic acid flask, thereby releasing its poisonous fumes, which would kill the cat. While this scheme does seem to be a tediously elaborate, contrived means of nixing a kitty,
    felicide is incidental to the issue. The crux is in the radioactive material, how it behaves, and how human observations affect its behavior.

    A radioactive material is one which transforms itself into a different element by particle emission. For instance, Uranium-238 will emit an alpha particle (helium nucleus) to become Thorium-234. Any radioactive material will eventually decay to become something else. This much is certain. We know that every nucleus within a lump of Uranium-238 will ultimately become Thorium-234. (The Thorium-234 nucleus will then become something else, but we’ll ignore this detail.) We even know the amount of time the Uranium-to- Thorium transition requires.
    Uranium-238 has a half life of 4.47 billion years. So, in 4.47 billion years, half of any given quantity of Uranium-238 would decay to form Thorium-234. This is indeed a long wait, but at least we have a reliable time schedule. The uncertainty is in each individual
    Uranium-238 nucleus. We know that half of the U-238 will transmute into Thorium-234 in 4.47 billion years, but cannot predict which nucleus will decay at any given time.

    So, we examine the matter on the subatomic scale and find that life hardly becomes more secure. Understand that on the macroscopic scale (the scale of apples, cars and bowling balls); we have the luxury of predictability. Throw an apple off a cliff and, assuming that one knows certain values such as its initial velocity, angle of throw, and other conditions, one can determine quite accurately where the apple will be at any space-time point. The same principle applies to planets and stars, the only difference being that celestial bodies are susceptible to more influences than the falling apple. Nevertheless, one can precisely pinpoint a planet at any moment. The Universe does not display the same comfortable reliability at the smallest levels of matter. The electrons and nuclei comprising atoms are not like suns and planets. Instead, these sub-atomic particles have “wave-like” properties. The same is true of light particles, or photons. It is upon this wave-particle duality that the science of quantum physics is predicated. (By the way, we haven’t forgotten about that poor cat.)

    Quantum physics tells us that we cannot simply know a subatomic particle’s position at every moment. Instead, such a particle has an array of possible positions and velocities. These
    particles have even been described as “probability waves,” denoting the relative probabilities of any particle being within a certain region. Only when a subatomic particle is “observed,” can one have an idea of its position (and momentum) at a given moment. (Note: the more precise the position determination is, the less precise the momentum determination will be and vice versa.) In effect, observation causes the other probability “waves,” to collapse.

    The truly tricky bit is in the interpretation. Every subatomic particle will have “quantum superpositions,” defined as that particle’s array of possible states. Prior to observation, the particle’s state is considered indeterminate because it could have many. Does this mean that human interaction alters the subatomic particle’s state, by making an observation that determines one state and thereby causes the others to collapse? The supposition that human observation exerts such an effect on reality is part of what is known as the “Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.” It was named after Copenhagen, Denmark, a city in which many of quantum physics’ pioneering scientists conferred about this new science and its possible ramifications.

    So, now we look in again on that cat.

    Schrodinger presented the aforementioned thought experiment as a way to expose weaknesses within the Copenhagen Interpretation. Now, let’s assume that the cat, the radioactive material, the Geiger-Counter death device, and the hydrocyanic acid flask are all contained in this box for an hour. Nobody observes the box’s contents. It is left alone in a corner somewhere for sixty minutes. During this time period, one of the radioactive material’s nuclei might have decayed, causing the Geiger Counter to smash the flask and slay the cat. Of course, within that hour, perhaps none of the nuclei decayed. If the Geiger Counter didn’t register decay, the flask would remain sealed and the cat would remain alive. Annoyed as hell, of course, but still alive.

    The problem is that we have two possible states: the event of nucleus decay and the event of no nucleus decay. If the former occurs, the cat dies, if the latter happens, the cat lives.
    After an hour elapses, the experimenter prepares to open the box and lift the lid. Since the cat’s survival depends on a subatomic –and therefore quantum- phenomenon, does the cat, itself, exist in an indeterminate state: a juxtaposition of a live cat and a dead cat in the same box? When the experimenter opens the box to observe a live cat, will he have actually caused the dead cat state to collapse, producing a live cat?

    Does this scenario sound absurd? Perhaps. Absurdity was exactly what Schrodinger was trying to produce with this experiment? The absurdity of applying microscopic principles to macroscopic objects. One cannot possibly have the simultaneous existence of a live cat and a dead cat if they are, indeed, the same cat. However, in the quantum world, such state juxtapositions are not only possible, they are the reality. That humans, apart from being displaced scrutinizers, can actually influence external realities by the mere act of observation, is Quantum Theory’s most astonishing assertion. How much influence we have and why are still unresolved issues. We do know that nature is quite adept at keeping her secrets, especially those pertaining to quantum physics. She’s certainly not going to let that cat out of the bag…box…

  8. christine randolph says:

    i have been away for 5 days and can no longer follow the threads, it would be good for me to have a date stamp and the name of the thread on all comments displayed….i guess i am too goofy ???
    …looked at RSS feed and comments too,
    what’s the difference between those 2?

    about the content

    I think we cannot say what power any yet to discover/analyze particles have on the brain psyche etc.

    I understand for instance that astronomers hypothesize that dark matter particles permeate everything… how does this affect living or insensate objects ? who knows ?

    I think we cannot say that genetics are disconnected from Kevin’s energy theory.

    at some level they could connect and then, we would likely have a solution for questions in physics, behavioural science, neurological science and genetics (and who knows what else) all at the same time. that would be NICE !

    I subsume this will not happen in our lifetimes…but I think everyone should keep pushing the boundaries !!!!!!!!!!

    just went to an OC event (I hear the boooooos) clicker expo

    I took 2 of my dogs and alternated them so that i had a dog for every single lecture i attended…and am unbelieveably proud of how they handled themselves, how much they did relax under stressful conditions…

    i did 2 active learning sessions (called labs) with my mini malamute and she was soooo cool and strutted her stuff….

    they make me SOOOOO happy …

    …I learned that dolphins mimic each other very nicely in trained unusual behaviours (how practical is that, they can learn from each other and minimize thusly the trainer’s work) and dogs might, too,

    also, that dogs will ignore the clicker if they are not specifically trained to pay attention to it.
    and if they are trained thusly, they will not even look for food if there is no click..that makes it more like classical conditioning, does it not ????? anyway, what do i know, i am too overwhelmed and tired by everything right now….

  9. Burl says:

    On LCK’s Twitter site, he linked to this article on embodied cognition http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/02/science/02angier.html

    A related interview on embodied mind http://cdn1.libsyn.com/brainsciencepodcast/62-brainscience-WBrown.mp3?nvb=20100203121232&nva=20100204122232&t=08cee184454cefdc0756c

    This reminds my of Whitehead’s oft repeated notion of the ‘withness’ of our bodies, or how we are in nature and can know/feel what nature is because of our bodies.

    Merleau-Ponty, a French phenomenologist, is known for saying the same thing.

  10. Burl says:

    It may take a slow reading or two, but this gem of Whitehead IS readable and it encapsulates his process thought in a single chapter (lecture).

    Your reward for reading Chapter VIII ‘Nature Alive’ of his last book, _Modes of Thought_ includes the following passage:

    “In these lectures I have not entered upon systematic metaphysical cosmology. The object of the lectures is to indicate those elements in our experience in terms of which such a cosmology should be constructed. The key notion from which such construction should start is that the energetic activity considered in physics is the emotional intensity entertained in life.”


  11. Heather says:

    This is probably in the wrong place, a question about playing/chasing: my son and Happy have a favorite game – Happy brings my son a toy and my son takes ahold of it, and Happy pulls him around. So it sort of looks like my son is chasing Happy, but he is really just running along to keep up. Is this a good game for them or is it more like chasing the dog? Newfoundlands do traditionally do work that involves retrieving and pulling, so I thought it might be an expression of that traditional purpose that could be used in a positive way to fulfill Happy’s prey drive.

  12. kbehan says:

    One can learn a lot from watching children interacting with dogs. So it sounds good and in keeping with breed purpose, simply keep your eye on things and it should work out fine.

  13. Heather says:

    Thanks Kevin!

  14. Burl says:

    On his twitter site, LCK links to an ongoing forum thread about NDT. Someone there mentioned a new book by Dr. Horowitz, an animal cognition scientist and dog lover.

    Her webpage is http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Alexandra-Horowitz/46971319

    Watch her vid and especially read her interview, where she describes some of what it is like to be a dog. At the bottom of the interview, she talks about ‘training’ in a manner that we followed with our dogs and we feel it is sound thinking:

    “I hope people gain a new appreciation of just how different dogs are from what we ordinarily think — and that people use this to build a new relationship with their dogs based on what the dog can understand and is interested in. I hope that people start taking their dog’s umwelt into account — and thus reconsider putting that raincoat on him, or pulling him away from a good smell, or keeping him from socializing with other dogs.

    When people get a dog, one of the first things they set about doing is figuring out how to “train” him. I find this curious — somewhat like schooling a newborn infant in the house rules as soon as he’s home from the hospital. There are so many more compelling ways of dealing with dogs than just training them and then considering the interaction complete. If, instead, we live with them for a while, watch them, let them act doggily, and let them react to us and us react to them, we begin to forge a relationship that is far more interesting for all involved.“

    Very well said!

  15. kbehan says:

    Cognitive science studies the brain and thereby focuses on the differences that make one being separate from another. This is an interesting and important line of research. In contrast, energy theory focuses on what all animals have in common and what therefore binds the many into one. All sentient beings feel their physical center of gravity the same way; they all feel hunger, balance, flow, magnetism, electricity, acceleration, inertia, thermodynamics, etc, the same way. All animals feel good the exact same way. Therefore by raising and training a dog in terms of what it wants, in other words what makes a dog feel good, unites dog and owner and completes the fundamental imperative of animal consciousness.

  16. christine randolph says:

    yay ! i watched human spark as recommended by Kevin (the disk was cracked so I had to send it back after the first episode but will keep watching it when an intact disk arrives)

    and am SOOO intrigued to learn that the very first thing that started us on “becoming human” was to “think” themselves away from chimpansee type diets (fruit and small prey like smaller monkeys) to hunting large prey in a group

    like “original” predators, wolves, orcas lions etc. by way of tool making (sharpened flintstone ….) and, most likely, an increasingly more elaborate way of social interaction such as communicating hunting strategies etc.

    …these humanoids ended up eating ONLY meat from large animals, (not even fish and no fruit etc.) … for many many generations.

    in other words, they probably lived just like wolves…cognitively and otherwise…

  17. Sang says:

    Hey Christine, if you have a fast enough internet connection, I believe you can watch the full episodes of the Human Spark here:


    I know episode 1 is available at least. Not sure if the others are yet or not.

  18. christine randolph says:

    oh thanks !!!!! i sent the disk back to netflix and told them to send an intact one back. my husband also wants to watch it and he does not like watching stuff on the computer. season 1 is out on dvd, came out a couple of weeks ago, yay!

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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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