Dear Psychology and Internal Medicine Communities,
Emotions, one of the foundational pillars of psychological theory, are commonly conceived as aberrant and destructive forces which drive biological changes. This letter is an introduction to a new perspective which shows (1) this is a misconception of emotions and (2) a corrected representation of emotions reveals their evolved biological role in the maintenance of individual health and well-being.
I am writing to you because I believe there is an important connection between linguistics and current misrepresentations of the nature of cognition and emotions and their biology within modern psychological and psychiatric theory that also impacts the study and practice of internal medicine.
Linguistics of Shakespeare:
Have English speaking researchers’ core beliefs of emotions – which may have been linguistically molded from childhood through family interactions and in later years through reading literary works such as Dickens’s Great Expectations, Poe’s The Raven, and Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – impacted their current understanding and scientific research about emotions and cognition?
A shared cultural and linguistic development of core beliefs and conceptual understandings about emotions is required for young students to comprehend and follow the emotional twists and turns within these popular English literary works. As students mature and are introduced
to the more advanced works of William Shakespeare and others, comprehension is even more dependent upon prior assimilation of cultural and linguistic paradigms. Conceptions of emotions are further reinforced by the logic and reason applied in today’s scientific literature, research, and discussions about emotions.
Emotions as Causal:
The development of emotional intrigue as found within the interplay of literary characters aligns with the paradigm of emotions as expounded in today’s psychological theories. Many literary plots are driven by the characters’ mismanagement of their emotions, or are even controlled and driven by their emotions of the moment. According to current psychological theory, destructive and aberrant emotions must be managed because of emotions’ causal influence upon biology.
Emotions as Effect:
A person feels an emotion and feelings. A person perceives emotions and feelings. This awareness is principle to the definition of emotions and feelings. As visual acuity is the ability to discern letters or numbers at a given distance according to a fixed standard (Wikipedia), emotional acuity is a person’s ability to be aware of and to discern biological changes and states within the body and brain.
Feeling Emotions and Feelings:
Good feeling and bad feeling emotions have an evolved biological significance. Good feeling emotions and feelings correlate with a healthy biology and negative feeling emotions and feelings correlate with an unhealthy biology. Rather than evoke the research, I will discuss the logic involved.
If good feeling emotions correlated with an unhealthy activity – such as not eating – the body, if the feelings were followed, would die. Conversely, if bad feeling emotions correlated with a healthy activity – such as breathing – the body, if the feelings were followed, would not survive. Therefore, for the body to ultimately survive the evolutionary process, good feeling emotions must correlate with healthy biological activity and bad feeling emotions must correlate with unhealthy biological activity. This scenario is but an extreme example of any number of possibly scenarios that would correlate health and emotional/feeling states.
The same logic goes for cognitive activity. If a person is cold and hungry and cognitive activities on how to obtain or create food and shelter were to only continue the emotional pain and misery, would such creative thought necessary for survival continue? Therefore, thought and imagination that pivots cognition from the negative feeling problem to the positive feeling solution – or possible solution – is necessary for evolutionary survival.
From an evolutionary biological perspective, if it feels good, it is good. Therefore, cognitive activity – for societal and cultural ethical advancement – must learn how to reframe emotionally negative cognitive activity into “appropriate” emotional positive cognitive activity. We as individuals in a society must learn and educate on how to effectively use emotions to guide cognitive activity and give meaning to the song, “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive”.
The Linguistics of Emotions as Being Both Cause and Effect:
When Homer wrote the Iliad almost 3000 years ago, he firmly established a cognitive construct of emotion as a combination of cause (biological changes) and effect (perception of these biological changes). Conscious awareness became neuro-linguistically programmed to understand the emotional chain of events as a singularity called emotion. By combining an awareness of cognitive thoughts with an awareness of biological changes into the singular paradigm emotion, this emotional neuro-linguistic paradigm or cognitive construct is both its own cause and its own effect.
Emotions as being both cause and effect is problematic in scientific discussion. A distinction must be made: are we discussing emotions as causal or are we discussing emotions as effect?
Cognition as Cause, Emotions as Effect:
By combining causal cognitive thoughts that activates an emotional neurology precipitating a biological effect which consciousness perceives into the singular paradigm emotion, this emotional neuro-linguistic paradigm has emotions as both cause of an event and the effect of the same event it caused. Scientifically – and logically – this is unacceptable.
Sequential brain imaging correlating cognitive awareness, biological changes, and emotional awareness by consciousness would seem to be invaluable research here to validate a cognitive cause/emotional effect paradigm. But logically, a person cannot have an emotional response to something until he/she is cognitively aware of that something. And emotional feelings of an event entail an awareness of biological conditions of the same event which also cannot occur until after there is an actual change in biology. Any biological changes cannot occur until after there has been some change in cognition. Thus logically, the sequential order is (1st) cognitive awareness, (2nd) biological change/state, and (3rd) emotional awareness.
Emotions are akin to the check-engine-light on the dash of a car. The light signifies problems within the mechanical physiology of the engine. The light is not the cause of the problem. The light is not aberrant nor destructive, but has mechanically evolved to bring to conscious awareness any potential problems within the engine, that if left unresolved, will lead to mechanical breakdown and failure – akin to what is observed in the biology of depression and anxiety that leads to suicide. Are people also ignoring, covering up, or taping over an emotional check-engine-light that signals biological susceptibility to illness, disease, and cancer?
The “check engine” light on the dash of a car is not causal but an effect. The issue is within the engine not the light. The light is the messenger informing the operator – if remedial action is not taken – of potential engine damage because of existing physical conditions. The light is not destructive and does not need control, management, nor regulation. The light provides an invaluable service for the health and well-being of the engine. To ignore the light or to take action upon the light, that is, to control, manage, or regulate the light itself would be detrimental to the survival of the engine.
The Illusion of Emotions as Aberrant and Destructive:
Because the cognitive construct of emotions has been neurolinguistic programmed to include cognition, biological changes/states, and the perception of these changes/states, emotions can be deemed aberrant and destructive. But an emotional reaction to a hand being mutilated in a table saw cannot not even be had if the cognitive events of perception and conception were not first actualized. That is, there aren’t emotional reactions to yet-to-exist events, real or imaginary (unless you are studying precognition).
Because cognition is causal to activating the emotional neurology that precipitates biological changes in which consciousness perceives and conceives as emotion, cognition can be aberrant and destructive, not emotions. Emotions are an effect. Cognition is cause.
Because mental sciences’ definition and use of emotions is an extension of a 3000-year-old linguistic paradigm as defined in Homer’s Iliad, is it now possible to comprehend that emotions are but one part of a mind, body, emotion, consciousness symbiotic relationship, all working together for the promotion of physical and mental well-being? This realization is already innately understood by the healthy, wealthy, and wise. This reality must be part of all levels of education to improve the lives of the sick and impoverished and to break the generational chain of pain, suffering, and traumatic heritage onto the next.
Emotions from a scientific point of view – not from the literary paradigm we have learned from birth – cannot be destructive nor aberrant because they are not causal. Emotions are the effect of cognitive causal activity. It is cognitive activity that can be destructive and aberrant. Emotions are but a reflection of that activity. And most important, emotions can be used to understand, guide, reframe, and refine that emotionally negative cognitive activity into emotionally positive activity. It becomes behooving upon society to educate and train its citizenry of the nature of emotions and how to effectively use emotions towards one’s own health, well-being, and prosperity as well as for the health, well-being, and prosperity of the culture/society in which they live. Symbiotic Psychology was written to begin this transition from emotional self-indulgence reinforcing psychotic cognitive activity to emotional self-awareness and cognitive transformation guiding behavior towards health, wealth, and well-being.
What value are evidence-based practices (EBP) in psychological and pharmaceutical therapies going to be for:
- the 47,000 people who are going to kill themselves in the USA next year? (AFSP, Suicide Statistics).
- our children who are going to be shot in the next mass shooting?
- the over 9,000,000 people globally who are going to die of cancer next year? (WHO, Cancer, Key Facts)
- the over two million people locked within USA’s judicial system (Wikipedia, Incarceration Rates) that cares more about the due process of punishment than understand that the brain’s neuro-plastic ability can change a personal reality of violence into a personal reality of well-being.
Where is the research to understand consciousness’s ability to use emotional awareness of feeling good or feeling bad as biofeedback to guide cognitive activity and to create a biology of health, prosperity, and well-being?
Emotions cannot be used to guide cognition as long as emotions are deemed aberrant and destructive because emotions are erroneously understood as changing biology. There is an emotional neurology that is activated by cognitive activities and this emotional brain does change and maintain a biochemical physiology but this causal emotional biology is not the conscious perception of emotional awareness called emotions.
This letter is my appeal for your understanding. I have done my best to outline the problem of modern psychological theory of emotions. I cannot change the embedded cognitive constructs of emotions within academia, but you can.
M.S. Technology Education
M.S. Management Technology