‘Descartes’ Error’: Why Facts and Feelings Are Inseparable


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  1. Many years ago I wrote an observation to my own study on this matter that although feelings are not thoughts, nevertheless on an almost molecular or atomic scale they intertwine so fast that they are inseparable. I visualized the way a braid, formed of hanks of feeling and thinking is wound so tightly there is no telling which comes first, emotion or reason. But that does not mean that at the macro level there is not a clear difference between feeling and thinking. At a micro level we can barely note the difference between atoms and space, matter itself seems to be formed more of space than atoms when peered at by metaphysicists, almost to the point the boundary between these two collapses and we see how atoms and space virtually become each other. There is a lot of space going on within the atom itself. So I feel there is no great distinction between feelings and thinking in the split second both manifest. However, as with matter under a microscope, disappearing into the background fizz of the Big Bang from whence all stuff blew, at a macro level matter, like feelings, becomes obviously delineated.

    It is my view that humans in the West have a tendency to exclude emotions at this macro scale, in favour of analytical thinking. Humans dismantle the furniture of emotions because they have been schooled into believing that emotions are ugly and alarming and threatening to the rigours of rational thought. This human urge to drive a wedge between feeling and thinking carts of the most beautiful part of being fully alive, in my opinion. A new mother or father does not “rationally” cuddle their baby. A murderer kills because he or she initially feels nothing but numbness when it comes to feeling sorry for a victim. Rational death camps still exist where long suffering captives are fed the sensible reasoned cube of stale bread. To “care” requires access to “feelings”. We live in a deeply “uncaring” and “unemotional” civilization. My bank litterally has no more furniture in it. No place for the world weary emotional to flop on a seat and rest their aching bones. Go into any elevator and what you see are steel walls and a rubber floor and the only communication with your emotional dismay is a plaque of unintelligible symbols more befitting the galactic otherliness of a flying saucer. Elevators used to have splendid decor to please the feelings of the lost.

    Humans think too much. That is what is driving each of them into a cocoon of insanity. Animals tend to sidestep thinking altogether and live more emotionally balanced lives.

    All this does not mean that I believe humans should cease thinking or enjoying the game of abstract rationality. People should utterly do whatever they fancy. Free choice for everyone must always come before any one person’s notion of what is ideal. You can always tell when someone is undermining a person’s free choice because that someone says “yeah but…” and starts to surround that free choice with barages of nitpicking all designed to part the person from their choice, such as a sweet enjoyable choice to be more rational, or more emotional. We all do nitpicking. Insisting that everyone should be exactly as we are. To some extent though this nitpicking comes quicker from hyper critical overthinking. Animals, who live more in a state of graceful emotionality, do not nitpick in the same way that rational, legal eyed, intellectually controlling humans do. In the nicest possible way animals just don’t care that much what other animals “think” of them and so they tend not to want to control the interior private psyches of other animals, unfortunately like humans sadly do.

    Lastly, I am not sure that consciousness is even a “brain” phenomena. Scientists are always picking open the brain to search for the font of reason or feeling. They get excited by motor smash mangled brains that seem to point to malfunctions in thinking or feeling but I believe consciousness is “beyond brain” and survives physical death of the body. The epiphenomenon spark of life that animates our vehicle of blood and bone is “an energy” and energy does not die but transmutes into new forms. Something like this. It is all my conjecture, silly speculations from me that my “feeling” self enjoys doing and that my “feeling” self tells me I can “play” with and not “have to” get logically “right”.

    I piss on being “logically right”, as all the animals piss on being “logically right”.

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    • I just want to add to my comment here that although I myself prefer to be in a world that is more feelings tolerant I have no right to “impose” my preferences on others who prefer to be different or buttoned up or reserved or tightly moral in a rule ridden way.
      Just as there are “thought police”, there are “feelings police”, who take it upon themselves to tell everyone they encounter that they “should” be “feeling” such and such feelings, like sadness or anger. Some people like religious persons do not want to be angry all day. That is their “free choice”. Some parents are not naturally emotive all the time. That is their “free choice”. I may have said it before but I have disdain for the way Psychotherapy has become a Psychological Puritanism that seeks to pursue the myth of the perpetually fixed person who feels the “correct” standard raw feelings all day. I have known some therapists who “get off” on reducing clients to writhing sobbing wrecks of catharsis NOT FOR the client but FOR the miracle wonder work of the therapist. It can approach near fetishistic missionary zeal, the need of a therapist to “transform” random people. That “transforming” usually requires convincing the client that they are more neurotically uptight than they are. And in any case who says there is anything wrong with a free person deciding to be uptight…or moral…or thoughtful…or stoic…or rational. None of the ways any human feels or thinks or behaves is at all a crime necessiting “thought police” or “feelings police” if that free person is NOT directly harming anyone.
      But here is Psychotherapy’s pin prick of accusation in what has become a witch hunt…it says that “if” you do not “feel” the “right way” then you may get sick…and it says “other people” make you not “feel” the “right way” and so those people must be condemned as spell casters of sickness. Usually this amounts to moms. Those supposed-to-be PURE vessels of PERFECTION who MUST only bestow golden emotions twenty four seven. Golden emotions that support and encourage everyone else’s emotions…and if not…then they are psychotherapeutically demonic.

      It IS very true that many offspring of ordinary weary moms and dads find their experience of being parented less than perfect. I am not talking about specific cases of neglect or abuse or shoddy inconsistent parenting. I am talking about the rise in “thought police” and “emotion police” where everyone is enlisted to keep their eyes on anyone who is not displaying IDEAL free choices. We are getting taught that to look IDEAL we must not show neuroticism or religiosity or reserve or privacy or manipulation or inauthenticity or vanity or greed or selfishness but must display the approved of feelings at the approved of moment or circumstance. I may have already said that if a person really wants to be a martyr or a peace maker or a pacifist or turn the other cheek or be moral or forgiving or give themselves peculiar old fashioned exacting standards then THAT is THEIR own “free choice”. Ageism often follows hot on the heels of this new Psychological Puritanism since elder generation persons are quite often rooted in the quite different mores and choices of their Times. Children may inevitably inherit some of those old customs but they grow up “free” to not “choose” them.

      I think I said before that indigenous parents seldom have a Psychotherapist on hand to teach them how to not damage their young, and yet those children often seem to turn out balanced nontheless.

      I am FOR psychotherapy but now it is in the hands of armchair analysts it has become a prevailing view like a quasi fundamentalism that obliterates all other forms of “being” in life, such as uptight ways of being, screwed up ways of being, nervous moral ways of being. Armchair critics ought to leave people alone to “be” exactly as those people “choose” to be.
      It is okay to be a martyr and not want some one elses IDEAL idea of perfect “healing”.

      I apologize for this lengthy add on but my earlier comments keep vanishing.

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  2. Some wounds never heal completely, and sometimes forgiveness is impossible, but there’s nothing shameful or “sick” about this. It’s just accepting emotional reality—something that leads to emotional maturity—which is the beginning of wisdom, something psychiatry knows little about.

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  3. I repectfully disagree with those who claim “forgiveness is impossible.” I realize that at times it seems more difficult, but it is absolutely necessary to one’s recovery, health and healing no matter the circumstance. If a person is not quite able to forgive those who did the harm or hurt, it might be necessary to initiate a relationship with a Higher Power to act as the Intermediary. This also assists the individual in the healing process. All of this is very necessary both for the health of the individual and for the health of society. It also represents the growth of the person towards “maturity” in that it is a reflection of the person taking responsibility for his or her life and health, etc. This is not to lessen the horrific impact of what those who do evil to others. The evil-doers must also take responsibility for the evil behaviors, but, of course, sadly they refuse to do that. This is also a major point that assists in defining them as evil. This is not to infer that someone unable to forgive or unable to ask a Higher Power for assistance in the forgiving process is evil; only that it might unnecessarily prolong their suffering. Thank you.

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    • Rebel,
      Please note: nowhere did I claim that “forgiveness is impossible” — I said forgiveness is SOMETIMES impossible.

      And I respectfully find your attitude towards a lack of forgiveness to be—for lack of a better word—unforgiving.

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    • Making value judgments based on forgiveness is not conducive to the healing process; it’s an entirely personal matter that can’t be dictated.

      People forgive in their own time and in their own way, if at all—and whether or not that’s good or bad is for them alone to decide.

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    • Forgiveness is absolutely not necessary for healing. Trying to force people to forgive or call it necessary generates fear and shame around the natural and healthy anger over having been abused. I am not saying that ramping up the anger is good, but the anger can be held and dissipate when it comes up without someone reacting to it with fear or shame thinking I MUST forgive in this instance to GET RID of my healthy normal anger. Indeed, for people with complex ptsd, what you are actually encouraging them to do will cause them side with and merge with their aggressors within their memories and flashbacks which will cause increased distress and dissociation. It is an important developmental moment to be able to side with oneself and not one’s abuser and hold and validate one’s anger, this is actually what helps us get out of abusive situations and be able to disclose future situations as abusive so we don’t get back into abusive relationships and learn to have boundaries. Encouraging people to skip over this right to forgiveness through some sort of moral injunction and encouragement to take the abuser’s side will keep them spinning in shame and fear as a secondary response to their normal healthy anger, lead to the distress and dissociation I am talking about, and trap people in a form of stockholm syndrome that like I said is a form of aversion to one’s anger, whereas it is important to be able to hold and validate one’s anger so one can correctly perceive and react to abuse in the future with boundaries. The kind of approach you are pushing is what keeps people who had abusive parents from experiencing their anger and setting boundaries in the future, it’s why people stay with people who hurt them emotionally and physically and sexually, and gaslight themselves with the same language they usually used to excuse their parents. There is a form of back-and-forth empathy that has compassion for all the moral nuances of a situation, i.e. it is likely an abuser was themselves abused which occasions compassion; and this does not excuse their abuse of us, which occasions anger. They can co-exist in a truly emotionally evolved person. What you are talking about is an aversion to the moral value of oneself in an abusive situation and it’s perverse. It’s actually why I got the hell out of twelve step programs, because I needed the strength to hold my anger at my abusive parents and partners, and people in AA kept yelling at me to forgive and calling me a blamer, which was actually re-traumatizing because its the same language my abusive parents used (by the way, I am over two years sober now without any 12 step program, and much better off for having left an approach that was terribly wrong for me).

      Furthermore, one can move on from abuse without ever forgiving. A lot of people recover from trauma just fine and live lives totally free from the haunting effect of the past without ever forgiving. Forgiving is only sometimes a byproduct of genuine healing, which like I said above requires one to go through the developmental stage and healthy process of holding and validating one’s own anger. Anything else is an expression of aversion and a spiritual bypass: it’s not real healing and it encourages people to be in active stockholm syndrome in current and future relationships. So if forgiving is not necessary for healing and you can move on without it, and forgiving as an aversive measure has a million and one pitfalls and often subverts real healing, why try and force forgiveness on people?

      It’s actually quite atrocious to do so, it seems to me. It is a ‘spiritualized’ form of victim blaming, quite useful for abusive folk to retain their power. It’s the perversion of Christianity, which was intended as a critique of empire and dogma which allows for righteous indignation.

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      • Another thing I will say is that it is actually quite easy to forgive instead of making contact with one’s anger for some people, AS a form of spiritual bypass and aversion, which keeps the wounds of the past alive because one refuses to feel one’s authentic and healthy anger response. My mother was like this: she made it a point to tell me about all the horrible things her narcissistic mother did to her, and when I responded with anger she would make it a point to express that she’d forgiven her mother because her mother had a really hard life. In fact what she had done is EXCUSE her mother rather than hold her accountable and feel the uncomfortable anger and grief that would follow. And as a result she unconsciously perpetrated all of the same abuse on me without being able to face or own it, and invalidated my anger every step of the way, telling me of my moral defectiveness or emotional obstinance and immaturity for having what was a normal anger response. In effect she was making me into a version of herself, someone who would say to their child ‘my mother did x y and z to me but I’ve fogiven her because her mother was so horrible,’ only to unconsciously take out all my unresolved anger on my child and recriminate them for having a normal anger response. It’s a recipe for revictimization. Feeling one’s anger and grieving what one didn’t get is the HARDER road, actually, because it involves relating to and owning a lot of uncomfortable feelings that are and were actually protective but were silenced. Once these are integrated one can more effectively break abusive cycles and hold one’s own boundaries, rather than passing the buck to the next unfortunate child. And once one integrates one’s authentic anger and grief, forgiveness can arise as a natural byproduct, though I say can because another outcome is the person simply moves on. But forgiveness as avoidance out of fear or shame around one’s anger; forgiveness because one believes or has been taught that a victim of abuse who feels angry or hurt is CHOOSING to suffer; that is inauthentic forgiveness and it is an act of self-annihilation that is most damaging. I watched it destroy both of my parents, who failed to feel their own pain out of aversion or because someone told them what you are saying — that to feel their own anger and pain as opposed to expressing benevolence towards their abuser was a shameful choice, and that that choice would be the cause of their suffering and not the trauma wound itself — and thereby passed all their pain on to me and my brother.

        To move through and integrate one’s anger, one’s indignation, one’s pain, to grieve, to feel the loss and side with one’s own inner child, to hold that child and say it is and was okay to be angry about being mistreated and to be sad for the version of yourself that didn’t get what they needed, that this wasn’t okay and the reactions you are feeling are normal and important and not your fault, this is actually the hard part AND the most important part if you want to be a cycle breaker.

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        • Rasx, I really must cease commenting as I have so much to do. But I just want to say I like what you are saying here also. You are so right about “martyrish” people who would rather turn their lives into a study of pointless self sacrifice, to perhaps win faint praise. BUT…again I must blow the trumpet FOR “free choice”. If someone WANTS to AVOID anything in life THAT is their “free choice”. Even if they choose to AVOID inwardly contacting a justified FEELING like indignant anger at being abused. Think of the choice to become a Buddhist monk or nun. We do not tell those people that they are irresponsible for wanting to NOT feel their anger. Yet we give no such “freedom of choice” to the mom or the fool or the nutty of the eccentric or the baffling. They are now told that they have no choice but MUST feel their HEALTHY emotions and be HEALTHY specimens of perfect unconditional love or they shall be demonized as being vessels of MESSY feelings that get distorted and distort others. This now prevalent telling strangers how they must “think” and “feel” can be very guiding and healing and useful BUT it all too often descends into a form of bullying PSYCHOLOGICAL Puritanism that is coming from the Gods of Psychotherapy. We all like to do it. We all like to console ourselves with the notion that we are correct and we ought to tell others how to be as correct as us. But this inevitably clips peoples “freedom of choice” to “do it” their “way”.
          A martyrish person may become a mom and seem to impose martyrish beliefs on her offspring. That may inspire or hinder those offspring. Of course it can. Mothering is the one full time job that comes with no instruction guide in the labor suite. Martyrish ideologies may need to be debunked by those offspring or not. But for someone who is not a person mom, I would say that “their” choice to be all forgiving and turn the other cheek is entirely their choice. We must all be free to make whatever choices appeal to us, provided that those choices are not raining bruises on another individual. Choices are all to the good. Bullying is not. There is a fine dividing line sometimes. But to tell someone that “have to” choose to feel angry, or “have to” to choose to never feel angry is where bullying can creep in. For it is up to each person WHEN they feel, HOW they feel, WHY they feel. It is never UP TO outsiders of that vessel of feelings to prod or poke an emotion into expression. To do that IS simply being intrusive. I know loads of people who have emotional constipation to which I used to try to be a frictive laxative, thining myself smart for inducing a flurry of real expressiveness in those tight lipped composed pillars of the establishment. But now I see what I was doing was bullying the reluctant to feel more than they freely chose to. We are not all the same. Many people don’t want to cry or swear or shout or hiss. It is a “free choice” to kill oneself. So it is a “free choice” to be completely fucked up. To think otherwise strays into the realm of the “forced healings” wrought by old psychiatry.

          Being a moral person is “a free choice” that many people like to make. Their morality may spread and be wholley unwelcome by those who want to feel even “freer”. But in the name of freedom it is their “free choice” to be persons of moral scruples if they want to be. This may mean that they have fussy morals against certain feelings.They are free to do to their own feelings whatever they like or they be not authentically free at all. This applies to ALL of us. Psychotherapy has wanted us all to emote on command every five minutes. This is just as unhealthy as telling people they must not show any feelings any all. It is okay to be inwardly a martyr. It is okay to be inwardly the opposite. It is okay be inwardly a sadist. But what must not occur is hurting other innocent people with either of these polar opposite options in how to be. I mention sadism because every human has moments of that impulse whist waiting in an overly long line or sitting on a ghastly crowded bus. It is not natural to be feeling “nice” all day. The more one tries to the more likely it is to cause a sadistic snapping of tolerance. A relaxed balanced middle ground between martyrishness and sadism arrives at a midpoint of genuine caring.
          Could say more but some of the study on martyr/sadist complex comes from traditional Gestalt therapy so check it out if at all curious.

          I end by saying I am sorry your mom did not treat you well or welcome your tender and outraged feelings. It would have been good if she had.

          Psychotherapy however, has been demonizing mothers for a very long time, and fathers. I am not always sure that this is in itself healthy. I think of rural Africa communities or rural Amazonian forest tribes and how many of those moms are aged fourteen when pregnant and have even less of a clue about what they are supposed to say to their offspring. Time was that those moms were demonized and told that they had to abandon their “free choices” and rear their children in “befitting” manners. A hegemony likes to flag up suffering children in order to control the feelings of parents, and friends of the patents, and friends of the friends of the parents….until everyone gets the new memo about perfect parenting styles and perfect people styles.

          Love is seldom perfect.

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      • I agree with Rebel. AND I agree with Rasx. How can I agree with BOTH?

        I could be wrong but my understanding of some of what Rebel may have been at pains to put accross is perhaps the notion that a lack of forgiveness is a fraction of people can PROPEL them to BECOME abusers. The average abuser probably thinks they are ENTITLED to victimize another innocent person because the abuser had it far tougher. That “having had it tougher” may not be forgiven by the abuser who goes on to abuse with that lack of paying it back to exactly who “did this to them”. Paying it back may involve spending years and years in “anger”, but there has to be an end point to anger or it is not doing its job of being angry. That end point of anger, even if it takes a lifetime, needs to be a sense of satiety and emptying and resolve and rest and moving on, as a healing. Our feelings are here to “heal” us. This does not mean our feelings are here to muffle our other strong feelings. Rage is healing. However, humans are inept at fully feeling. Humans tend to “leak” out feelings “ineffectually” over spans of time, as chronic resentment, bitterness, contempt, all of which may marquerade as anger but which are in fact lesser forms of anger. Those lesser forms of anger can become abusive in a diffuse misdirected blanket heckling kind of a way. Bitterness may spill out at the populace of a whole country of “them”, or age group of “them”, or race of “them”, rather than visiting exactly “who did this to you”. When anger manifests in those lesser “leaky” ways it can inflict damage on innocent people who have never caused any direct harm to anyone, but who simply seem “linked” to the original abuser, as if bystander accomplices. This diffuse “lack of forgiveness” helps nobody. It does not help innocent victims who are “abused” by such a bitter “entitlement” to get better by meting out abuse to anyone at all, and it also does not help the abuser “focus” their “leaky” unsatisfying gall in such a way that it becomes clean anger “at” precisely “who did this to you”. There needs to be “at least” a forgiveness of who does not matter to the original injustice, perhaps a whole village or city or country needs forgiveness. Or sporadic random entitled abuse just perpetuates in the world.
        I would also say that “anger”, when it is cleanly and fully felt “is cathartic enough to mend old hurt. And this catharsis seldom needs anything of the culprit. The culprit becomes a “nothing” who does not need to grovel in apology anymore…since the full acceptance within of raw anger can eventually deliver its own state of calm. A bit like how howling in grief can soothe the grief stricken. A powerfully “felt” feeling can do this self healing so well that one does not “need” anymore the “other” to bestow it by saying a glib word like “sorry”. But the bitter can never access this full feeling of anger and so they can get stuck in never finding the refreshment of catharsis. And if they cannot, they certainly will pile on more bitterness that they cannot access such full calm after the feeling storm. This uncomfortable bitterness then gets blamed on a whole village or city or country…a “them”. Or even a toddler to be abused with bitter entitled grabbiness.

        It is right that after any abuse by a specific person that the pure anger be felt fully. It is necessary to first feel it before forgiveness can be genuine. But forgiveness is helpful as a process of moving on “after” that wounded state of fully feeling anger has focussed “only” on “who did this to you” and has been cathartic. Catharsis tends to be regarded as punching ten bells out of a wrongdoer but one can punch a person and “feel nothing”, no sadness, no anger, no emotions at all. This is allowing the original abuse to turn one into a numb punching abusive feelingless automaton. A retribution obsessed robot. All action and no deep healing feelings.

        Lastly, there are rare people who for whatever reason “choose” to turn the other cheek. Peacemakers. Their forgiveness “choice” is not “wrong” for them. It might be “wrong” for someone different. But the peacemaker may “inspire” others with their “choice”. It is okay to share our own experiences with our own good for us “choices”. This is “not” an attempt to preach or shame or guilt trip but is just a “sharing” of a “different” way of dealing with loss or rage or woundedness. We all share such private “choices” about what seems to help us “get better”. It is all a matter of “free choice”. Any “free choices” delicately offered may not be craven attempts to moralize or spiritualize but may just be a particular path of “love” that that person found mending. Half the planet’s population are religious and do believe in a Higher Court or deity who will restore justice on their behalf. They feel they need do nothing but wait. That is “the answer” for them. But half the planet’s population do not have the confidence in such beliefs and feel abandonned to callous indifference in the world. Both populations can end up battling with each other. Wars come.

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  4. This is my beef with Cbt. If I begin hyperventilating, I will immediately enter a fear reaction, I most certainly don’t need to think the words ‘I am breathing quickly, therefore I must be under threat.’ The same goes for if my blood sugar dips, I will immediately enter a fear reaction because of the body’s non cognitive perception of threat, intended to get me moving. No verbal cognitive necessary, I certainly don’t need to think ‘my blood sugar has dipped,’ in fact verbal cognition might kick in because I have no idea at all what I am scared. In both cases thoughts are likely to occur downstream of the feelings with the feelings as causes. If someone touches a sensitive part of my body, I will Bristle with excitement because Of physiological sensitivity, not because I think ‘this person is touching a sensitive part of my body, this is exciting.’ Furthermore, for example, today I was walking on the beach and was hit with a strong gust of wind, and my hat flew off. My eyes bulged and I felt my energy draw up and I spontaneously reached backwards for my hat. I didn’t have a single thought about it. In fact, if we weren’t wired this way, if I had to think ‘this strong wind has blown, it was too strong for my hat to stay on, this is surprising,’ and only only then become surprised and reach for my hat, I’d be the kind of animal that wouldn’t last a day in the wild. We never wouldn’t evolved and surivived this way. Animals as well respond to the immediate salience of sensation without having to think in words at all: the sensations are the symbols that evoke the feeling, NOT verbal cognitions that have no affective tone. Babies too. And if we agree that the meanings of sentences or words can be symbols that evoke feelings, why not images or sounds or scents? I certainly don’t have to think ‘this is a person running towards me’ to see one in my visual image, the meaning of which would be More than enough to evoke a feeling like fear.

    Here are some more examples: when my dog barks because I have a very sensitive sensory apparatus I feel immediate shock, In response to which I feel frustration, and only then will I think a negative thought about my dog, with the prior two thoughtless feelings as it’s causes . Or when I hear a splitting sound, I immediately feel pain and cover my ears and only then think ‘I wish this would stop.’ Or when I smell something noxious I am disgusted first and then think ‘wow what a rotten smell what is this?’ Or when I see a baby smiling in public, i immediately brighten, and the thought ‘aww how cute’ is a concretion and expression of this emotional reaction that Carries it’s underlying quality into another sphere. Who would think that it would need to proceed the other way? Only a dissociated computer person academic. The baby’s smile is the symbol to which I respond with the happy feeling, within which the cognition which is itself emotional and in a way itself an emotion or emotional reaction arises. Just as a beautiful painting occasions my awe, not the perception of the painting, plus the emotionless cognition ‘this is beautiful,’ followed by the emotion.

    As Heidegger says, there are thoughtless emotions but no emotionless thoughts, therefore emotion is the primary stratum and thought the derivative one built upon and expressing what is already there: affective response. Anyone with invasive memories will tell you that the image is the occasion for fear and anger, not the emotionless cognition ‘this is bad, this person is attacking me.’ It is more accurate to say we begin with immediate physiological aversion and pleasure to those sensory symbols we are biologically Drawn to or repelled by, THEN develop heuristics that allow more complex sensory symbols to be the occasion for emotional reactions, and only THEN develop cognitions, which are in fact more solidified emotional responses themselves, and which usually follow from purely emotional responses to the former two categories of experiences. Even the stoics, who the behaviorists are so fond of, say that If a sage is on a ship and it hits a strong wave he will immediately startle and brace without thinking, and that he will blush uncontrollably in response to flattery without thinking, and only afterwards will he reflect cognitively.

    But if there are these two examples of what they call presentiments, aren’t there an infinite variety, and doesn’t the whole system of thinking causing feeling crumble? To my mind it is the reverse: thoughtless feeling usually causes or occasions thinking, and thinking is itself an affect laden response or a concretion of emotional energy. Neuroscience I think bears this out and says that so many responses can be occasioned below consciousness to which a feeling is the response, not that conscious cognitive thoughts are usually The occasion for ‘limbic’ responses. Heuristics are activated below consciousness to which immediate limbic responses occur which occasion cognition. Furthermore 80 percent of our processing is bottom up, meaning it is immediate interoception of the states of our organs (whitehead anticipates this) which has nothing to do with verbal cognitive assessment or reasoning. This makes most of our feelings akin to the hyperventilating or low blood sugar example.

    This is why I think cbt is total garbage. You can’t control your feelings by changing your thoughts because your thoughts are most often caused or occasioned by your feelings, and your feelings are immediate affective responses to environmental salience, and thought in any event is a sort of downstream feeling. The most one can say is that thoughts sometimes occasion further feelings. Peter Levines SIBAM framework and others acknowledge this: mind is complex and has multiple aspects — like sensation, image, urge, meaning (potentially verbal) — with complex and not unidirectional causal relationships, the direction of causality often shifts. So cbts auto thoughts always cause feelings is probably mostly wrong and at best only occasionally right with qualifications, I.e. thoughts are affective.

    phenomenologists and process philosophers have been saying things like this for years. There are other much more effective ways of working with the mind in the meditative traditions which recognize this. Thought is in fact the most inflexible of the aspects of mind, and it iterates in ways totally beyond our control. Engaging with cognition usually preserves underlying distress and ramps up the cognition itself you are averse to, as anyone who has tried to think their way out of rumination will tell you. And also cbt makes it seem like you should be able to feel good in any environment and If not you’re not thinking right, which is perverse.

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    • I agree with much of this brilliant assessment. I would only be wanting to say that “for me”, the feeling then thinking then feeling then thinking and so on can become a dog fight, a brawl, an unstoppable cycle faster and faster until in blind panic I am no longer able to gage which comes first the feeling or the thinking. When that occurs I have “catastrophic” thinking…a Catherine wheel firework of “what if, what if, what if???”…and the endlessly spinning wheel of these propels huge fear in me of imminent demise.
      I am no fan of cbt. I am no fan of the Buddhist idea of getting rid of stray thoughts either. All I do know is that in a state of “disaster mentality” where I am “frightened to death” of many interlinked catastrophes it “can” be of use to sit myself down and “question” such freaked out thinking escalation in me.
      But yes, you are correct to have concerns that cbt can turn into “thought policing” for dubious reasons if meted out by fussy, preachy practictioners. Plus I do not think we are supposed to monitor our river of thinking so intensely. That monitoring can become a route to “disaster mentality” about having any thoughts at all. But I think that it is good for eight billion individuals to have at least eight billion “options” for how to settle anxiety “if” they want to. No “one way” is going to “heal” everybody. But I am glad you outlined the many pitfalls of cbt so seizmically.

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      • Rasx,

        Thank you for the wonderful quote from Heidegger:

        “…there are thoughtless emotions but no emotionless thoughts…”

        I think CBT is an exceptionally thoughtless approach. And how do I know this? Ummm…I’m not sure…I just had a feeling.…

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  5. Ps. Further to my comment regarding “forgiveness”, currently awaiting moderation, I also want to say that there are various kinds of forgiveness. There is a forgiving that never forgets. There is a forgiving that might not want to make a best pal out of the wrongdoer or plump their cushions or offer them a last dime but may be enough of a forgiveness to “walk away”. This “walking away” is not always a “letting them get away with it”. Rather it can be a wish to no longer be contaminated by the bad energy they emit. Lots of bullies rely on you never “walking away” but they prefer you remaining stuck in a continous nightmare present where they are eternally destroying you.

    A forgiveness can protect against becoming what “they” are. A forgiveness that shows them what “not” spreading swearing and spitting and abusiveness looks like. A dignified kind of forgiving that stops an abuser also robbing you of even your own last vestiges of proud dignity. Not being reduced to the sick destructive villain that they are. Forgiveness may even be too great a “wound” for the wrongdoer. Love often wounds those who cannot bear it. The refusal to play the wrongdoer’s game of locking you into a duo or I-thou dynamic sets you free.

    Freedom is what many an abuser does not want you to have. They want to occupy your head and heart twenty four seven. They do not want you to be happy elsewhere. They want you to never forget their name.

    In this sense, sometimes forgiveness is like being a wolf, who disappears through a blizzard without so much as a backward glance.

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  6. I also bet Decartes, like most of today’s psychiatrists and psychologists, was secretly one angry dude—and Heaven knows there’s nothing more destructive than unacknowledged anger—which I think is the foundation of all of psychiatry and most of psychology.

    And there’s nothing wrong with anger; it’s one of most instructive and protective emotions anyone can have—if dealt with authentically.

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  7. IMHO, feelings and thoughts are separate but also combined as one wants at any given time.
    One time sitting under a tree at a campsite, I asked my husband (a lovely intellect) to only respond with his feelings without thinking. It was difficult at first. So we switch to OK then think without feeling and this was much easier for him. I was, on the other hand, opposite of him. I could feel faster than I could think.

    The easiest way for me to know the difference is a feeling has corporeal sensation and if one “listens” deeply cause the sound of the impact is not loud, one can feel the heat, the pressure, the textual, or the tension or the wetness or the air puff etc. A thinking is quite fast track and often (at least in my subjective experience) does not touch the body but may warm the head. I often can speak or switch my trail of thought cause I am more grounded on my body than my mind and trust that quite frankly better…unless I feel unsafe in which, I observe more than interact.

    One of the best interview I saw about this, though not directly related, was an interview with the PM of Finland talking about Putin. She said (paraphrasing her) that Putin was emotional and making decisions on feelings and fantasy of the great Russia of the past! I thought that was classic response because most world leaders stay out of expressing feelings of others as not to appear not smart or whatever we assigned to feelings. However, in this interview, it was quite clear she was observing a person doing things without thinking purely making huge decisions based on his childhood dreams or feelings on his body! Feelings do not lie but need a quick assessment for temporal purposes…hence Putin living in the past is killing a lot of people!

    My point is most in the world, men in power positions avoid talk of feelings but actually every good decision ever made needs feelings and thinking together or mostly likely if it is survival where the thinking is shutdown and feelings rule, feelings determine life or death!

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  8. Cartesian dualism is actually a form of ‘splitting’, the defense mechanism used by people unable to tolerate ambiguity. And ‘splitting’ is what characterizes most of the people who practice psychiatry and psychology—and when challenged, they resort to gaslighting.

    So there you have it, the two things that characterize the system of “mental health”: splitting and gaslighting.

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    • Worth a glance: “Splitting: The Psychology Behind Binary Thinking And How It Limits A Diversity Of Opinions,” by Ilana Redstone in Forbes Magazine

      My takeaway was this quote from psychologist Andrew Hartz:

      “There’s an Islamic mystic who described how harmful it is to divide people into groups, say only good things about some and only bad things about others…” — something that accurately describes the “mental health” industry.

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  9. What I find remarkable about the enlightenment era is how adamant some people were about separating the mind and body. And I wonder if this had anything to do with the fact that these were men who never had to contend with the agonizing realities of either menstrual cramps or childbirth. Because if they’d had to, I bet they’d have stopped thinking like a bunch of stubborn two-years olds. And while I don’t believe there’s any such thing as the completely egotistical construct invented by the completely egotistical Freud called “penis envy”, there is definitely such a thing as “penis privilege”.

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