Emotions: Simple. Complex

Words: Dr Rajgopal NIDAMBOOR

Emotions are not simple phenomena. They are as simple, or complex, as asking scientists, “Why is the sky blue?” Thought and thinking are far more convoluted than we imagine them to be. Just as certain questions and answers in science are riddled with haziness, even when their meanings, or concepts, are apparent, emotions are also peppered with ambiguities. Emotions are tangible, all right, yet intangible. They represent not just the person’s thoughts, but also their psyche.

Philosophers connect emotions to personal experiences. They refer to them as reviews of change in one’s feelings. Scientists do not think of emotions on the same lines — they aim at finding objective signs in emotional feelings, including psychological states that reflect them, along with behaviours and biological reactions. They also think of emotions as ‘objectified patterns’ in a subjective state.

Every emotion originates in and with brain activity. Each emotion is also a psychological phenomenon that may be determined, or not determined, by a brain state. This is primarily because each brain profile can trigger a glut of emotions. One also needs a specific emotion to emerge in a given setting to portray its context vis-à-vis one’s history, language and also biology. You may connect such a parallel to mysteries that surround puzzles too, such as the ‘like cures like’ principle of homeopathy, or why the Bermuda Triangle remains an enigma.

All emotions consist of action, cognitive processes and bodily feelings. This is, in more ways than one, true to our brain’s organisation and also physiology. There are as many questions on the subject as there are answers — for example, whether we should think of motor activity in terms of muscle systems involved, their voluntary or involuntary character, or their projected objectives? Or, should our memory of emotions be organised in terms of information catalogued, or information reclaimed, along with their consequences, origins, brain profiles, or semantic narratives?

To make things less complex, a school of scientific thought avers that it is the mind’s job to detect all primary and secondary form of emotions in the course of a thought. For this to happen, all one needs are a set of ideas, supposed references, valid, or natural idioms. Put simply, these are collated emotions, emerging in contexts, as wave particles of human imagination, whose causes, consequences and patterns are evident for everyone to perceive, or see, and understand without ado.

What comes next is summarising such contexts and patterns that one has observed.  Scientists think of such entities as ‘dark matter’ in the cosmos — in the human dimension, this is nothing but reward centres in the brain illustrating an emotion, or pattern.

Any which way you look at it, emotions offer a host of choices — right from a simple to a pretty idea, or the most convoluted to the most complex, yet plain enough for one to comprehend for one’s day-to-day usage. This is because every physical, or intellectual, effort, be it the sciences, the arts, or the humanities, brings about a balance between a central concept and its periphery. It is, therefore, no quirk that ancient philosophers waxed far more extensively about emotions, human nature and the divine as three great mysteries.

They also contextualised emotions as not just the domain of the individual, but also as representative of divine blessings. A handful among them thought of emotions as a surge of processes that begins with emotional motivation and progresses to a state of calm, or intense brain activity too.

The best thing we all could do is to direct our emotions for conscious, empathetic activity and ‘factor’ them for our good and everyone’s good.

Dr RAJGOPAL NIDAMBOOR, PhD, is a wellness physician-writer-editor, independent researcher, critic, columnist, author and publisher. His published work includes hundreds of newspaper, magazine, web articles, essays, meditations, columns, and critiques on a host of subjects, eight books on natural health, two coffee table tomes and an encyclopaedic treatise on Indian philosophy. He is Chief Wellness Officer, Docco360 — a mobile health application/platform connecting patients with Ayurveda, homeopathic and Unani physicians, and nutrition therapists, among others, from the comfort of their home — and, Editor-in-Chief, ThinkWellness360.

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