A Means of Studying Human Consciousness
Author: William L. Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Emotions affect people's
perceptions of reality, with the emotions that we experience on a daily
basis appearing to be in response to external stimulus such as a stressor
of some kind resulting in responses which ultimately result in some emotion
being expressed, be it anger, fear, love, hate, disgust, pleasure, and so
on. Therefore, Meyer's (1933)
contention that emotions are whales amongst fishes can be construed as
Understanding that thoughts and emotion are energy that
not only have physical external manifestations and internal effect
mental/physical effects, but also a component which radiates out from an
individual's electromagnetic field. This
latter component is often denied or misunderstood but plays a crucial to
understanding the interplay of emotions.
This is a topic that needs to be researched, but
criteria need to be devised for the creation of a device, and the
interpretation of its human body electromagnetic field measurements.
Once such a device has been created and tested then studies may be
started utilizing it in a structured and scientific manner.
Keywords: emotions, consciousness,
sympathetic nervous system, nerve, neurology.
Emotions, do indeed, take on lives of their own; they
have their own energy. Samways (1992) and Griscom (1988, 1992) have gone
into considerable detail regarding this. The solar plexus region of the
human body has a particularly strong energy field radiating from it in
comparison to other parts. It is also serviced by Cranial Nerve X, the vagus
nerve, which feeds into the sympathetic nervous system, which can trigger
responses of either fight or flight.
So much of what we perceive, think and do is based upon
emotions that it is highly illogical for researchers in the field of
consciousness studies to ignore them, as Meyer (1933) would have wanted us
to do. It would also deny the experience of acquiring a “hunch?
“When any physical process rises above the
threshold of consciousness, it is the affective elements which as soon as
they are strong enough, first become noticeable. They begin to force
themselves energetically into the fixation point of consciousness before
anything is perceived of the ideational elements 1 . ... They are
sometimes states of strained expectation. ... Often there is vividly
present ... the spectial affective tone of the forgotten idea, although
the idea itself still remains in the background of consciousness. ... In a
similar manner ... the clear apperception of ideas in acts of cognition
and recognition is always preceded by feelings.?(Wundt, 1907, pp.
243-244, quoted in Zajonc, 1980. Nielsen, 1997, p. 1).
Emotions of love and hate, joy and fear, etc., are
diametrically opposed to each other and provide the bases for either
experiencing an ecstatic state or depression.
As Seligman (1991) has demonstrated with his research into unipolar
depression and the concept of learned helplessness in response to an
external stimulus (i.e., the loss of a job or of a loved one). From a somewhat different perspective, Nielsen (1997)
“T&C [Tooby and Cosmides (1990)]
propose a greater role for emotional mechanisms in the mental architecture
than is usually encountered. They propose that ‘[a]ny controllable
biological process that, by shifting its performance in a specifiable way,
would lead to enhanced average fitness outcomes should come to be
partially governed by emotional state?(1990, p. 412). These include
goals, the setting of motivational priorities, the extraction of
situation- or goal-relevant information from the environment, the
categorization of current inputs in terms of current priorities, the
perception of situation-relevant cues, and the memory of
situation-/goal-relevant information. Most directly to the point of the
current discussion, they suggest that ‘the entire structure of
attention, from perceptual systems to the contents of high-level reasoning
processes, should be regulated by emotional state?(1990, p. 413,
Taken in the broadest possible sense, T&C’s
proposal implies that each and every behavior, being intrinsically motivated
and emerging from a ranked set of goal structures within the organism, will
be emotionally governed. One could, if one wished to be more conservative,
read ‘emotionally governed?to mean that if one is in an emotional
state, all of the above processes will be shifted into a special emotional
processing mode. From a more liberal reading of this theory, one can
conceive of every mode of processing as being equivalent to one particular
internal configuration of motivational and goal structures, which in its
particular way constrains ongoing processing. Valences will be built into
every action, judgment, and decision according to the biases associated with
contextually defined organismic desires and needs. Since all psychological
processing is thought to spring from the motivational set of the organism
(leaving aside how much of this set is determined by internal states and
environmental contingencies and how much of it is under conscious control),
any motivational set bears with it a particular emotional mode and results
in a particular coloring of subsequent processing. Hence attention, I would
suggest, is always emotionally regulated, always picking out the
subjectively relevant features of the environment.
The caveat is this: Emotions, according to T&C,
confer meaning to situations by signaling to the organism the significance
of certain environmental features. Because these signals are elicited by
cues whose significance derives from the structure of the environments of
our evolutionary past, it is not always the case that our emotional
reactions will be adaptive to current situations. Yet through the study of
these reactions we can come to understand the ways in which our behaviors
are governed by automatic mechanisms of evaluation and feeling (Nielsen,
1997, p. 5).
From this stimulus/stress, an emotional response is
ultimately generated, as Oatley and Jenkins (1996) elucidate with their
discussions of the FACS system and the Duchenne smile (Oatley & Jenkins,
1996, pp. 108- 109). Figure 1
elucidates the interrelationship between our emotions, memory, how we relate
to both our environment and to each other, and the scenarios in which
psychopathology finds either fecund or stony ground.
Apparently, this is not something which other
researchers into the nascent and burgeoning science of consciousness feel
has been adequately dealt with. Watt (1998) discusses how theories of
consciousness deal with the issue of emotions:
current theories of consciousness neglect many lines of evidence that
emotion is a central organizing process for consciousness, compelling
evidence found in four basic topical areas:
intrinsic relations between and deep interpenetration of three
neuropsychological global state functions that cannot be
separated from the "hard problem" of consciousness and self
(those three being affect, attentional, and executive functions);
neural network underpinnings of emotion (in a highly distributed limbic
system) and their large intersections with the ERTAS systems (the
extended thalamic reticular activating system) thought to subserve
consciousness by supporting various forms of gating and binding of
highly distributed neural activities in many parallel processing and
dedicated modular neural systems in cortex;
thinking about the neural correlates/etiologies and neurodevelopmental
basis of clinical syndromes that are true "diseases of
consciousness" (MPD-DID, autism, schizophrenia) and their
implications for understanding the importance of emotion in the creation
of a cohesive "global workspace;"
research into neurodevelopmental issues, particularly the crucial
initialization of affect and attachment at 2-3 months, and its possible
role in bootstrapping thalamocortical systems and thereby enabling a
"global workspace" for consciousness. (Watt, 1998, p. 2)
The purpose of this paper is, ultimately, to address
this issue and thereby to provide stimulus for further research.
Our emotions have lives of their own as Griscom (1988)
elucidates in her concept of what she calls the "emotional body"
and details: what it is, how it
acts, how it influences our perceptions, etc. It is one of the four bodies
which she says we as incarnate beings possess, the other three being the
physical, mental and spiritual bodies (Griscom, 1988, pp. 5-23). Her healing
work and training of facilitators at The Light Institute in Galisteo, New
Mexico, is based upon this concept.
Griscom calls the emotional body "the emotional
vehicle of consciousness which is an entity and [whose energy field]
vibrates at a low frequency" (Griscom, 1988, p. 176). She also says
this about it:
"The seat of the emotional body is in the solar
plexus chakra, which is in the area of the stomach. Our emotions are
registered by the solar plexus ganglia, which trigger the sympathetic
nervous system of fight or flight. This alters the blood chemistry in the
brain, and the vagus nerve [Cranial Nerve X] activates physiological
responses which actually carry with them an electrical jolt. ... The jolt
spreads itself out in widening arcs which characterize disillusion, shame
and anxiety. The emotional body becomes addicted to these jolts. It begins
to seek people and situations which will re-echo the original charge, even
though we become desensitized or unaware of it on a conscious level,"
(Griscom, 1988, p. 14).
2 below illustrates this concept in
Griscom is not the only person to say that emotions
alter perception. Oatley and Jenkins (1996) concur:
?... Emotions and words have been shown
to have substantial effects on other mental processes. They can affect
perception, and they usually constrain attention to events relevant to the
emotion," (Oatley & Jenkins, 1996, p. 283).
James (1890/1981) also concurs:
"Objects of rage, love, fear, etc., not
only prompt a man to outward deeds, but provoke characteristic alterations
in his attitude and visage, and affect his breathing circulation, and
other organic functions in certain ways," (James, 1890/1981, p.1058).
Seligman's optimism questionnaire (Seligman, 1991, pp.
33-39) seeks to help people elucidate how they view their personal
realities. He refers to this as "explanatory style," which Samways
refers to as "self talk" (Samways, 1992, p. 60).
Seligman's questionnaire seeks to elicit from the reader how she
views his/her current set of circumstances by categorizing responses on
scales whose intent is to determine how personal, pervasive and persistent
one's attitude is and therefore how one views one's reality.
Samways examines this same issue from the perspectives of how our
self talk influences and relates both to
ourselves and to other people with whom we deal on a daily basis, bringing
our perceptions of reality in line with reality, and how to manage conflicts
within ourselves and with others (Samways, 1992, pp. 60-65, 66-69).
Take a look again at Figure 1 and compare it, now, to
Figure 3 as found below. Note the similarities between (b) and (c) and what
happens in response to stimulus/stress as presented in Figure 1. James
(1890/1981) broadly supports this model:
Emotional reactions are often excited by objects
[stimuli] with which we have no practical dealings, (James, 1890/1981, p.
What is crucial to understanding emotions is the fact
that the human body is an aerial (Samways, 1992, pp. 47-50), with seven
primary energy centres known as chakras located within the body and smaller
ones (Griscom, 1992, p. 9) located elsewhere in the body. There are also two chakras above the head (Griscom, 1992, p.
9) and energy meridians throughout the human body (Griscom, 1992, p. 7).
Figure 4 illustrates the seven primary chakras.
A common form of measurement of electromagnetic field
flux within the brain -- and, therefore, of conscious brain activity -- is
the use of an electroencephalogram (EEG).
By measuring such flux, it is possible to get a picture of an
individual's cerebral electric wave and thereby to ascertain whether or not
someone in a comatose vegetative state is able to return to full
consciousness, for instance (Xie,
1999), or if someone is either alive or dead, as lack of brain activity
is one of several primary indicators of death (Machado, 1996).
The solar plexus chakra as depicted in Figure 4 is key
to understanding that what we radiate out from ourselves is what other
people and the cosmos pick up up on and react to. This is what Griscom has
referred to as the seat of the emotional body (Griscom, 1988, p. 14). It is
where we feel hate (Samways, 1992, audio cassette). And it is where the
Russians have found the strongest electromagnetic field in the human body (Samways,
1996). When all this is integrated, it gives new meaning to the terms 'gut
feeling' and 'gut reaction' because of the very physicality of emotion's
The understanding of emotions in the study of
consciousness cannot and should not be ignored, because it is crucial to the
understanding of consciousness itself. It
is crucial to this understanding because human beings experience them on a
daily basis. They can be the causes of wars, they are the causes of marital
and familial conflicts, and they are the fundamental element in experiencing
moments of pleasure in our lives.
Emotions are intertwined with attachments to things and
people, as Oatley and Jenkins (1996) covered in great detail when discussing
Mary Ainsworth's Strange Situation. They are also key to the diagnosis of
psychopathology, as in the case of Borderline Personality Disorder (American
Psychiatric Association, 1994, pp. 280-281).
Moreover, emotions radiate out from us in the form of a
palpable energy field, which in turn, influences how others react to us at
any given moment.
Therefore, to ignore the issue of emotions in the field
of consciousness studies is to engage in cognitive dissonance over something
that is inherent and intrinsic to humanity's everyday experience and thereby
to imitate Meyer's (1933) hubris on the subject. It needs to be studied from the perspective of electromagnetic
field measurement in a far more sophisticated manner than what an EEG would
permit. Consequently, a) criteria need to be developed for the quantitative
measurement of the human body's electromagnetic field prior to b) the
creation of the actual quantitative measurement device and c)
experimentation along this line of takes place.
Addendum: The author is interested in
collaborating with others on the development of criteria for such a device,
as well as development of the device itself and its subsequent use in
experimentation for the study of emotions and their interrelationship with
human consciousness. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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Journal Home Page
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