More emotion, probability/improbability ... and color
Name: Brie Farley
Subject: control emotions?
Date: 2002-11-05 10:24:59
Message Id: 3534
So, for the past 24 hours, I've been thinking about the theory that one can completely control her emotions. I completely disagree! Let me just propose a few examples. Please feel free to counter-argue. I would love to know if someone was capable of controlling her emotions in all of the following...
1. You study non-stop for an exam in your favorite class with your favorite professor, you take the exam, feel great, but when you get it back a week later, you've earned 39%, with a big "SEE ME" in red letters.
2. You approach your favorite professor and he/she tells you they don't have time for you this week, then tell you they can't remember your name.
3. Next week, you plan to visit your professor's office. You trip on the steps on the way, and realize that your watch is ten minutes slow.
4. You enter the office, (late), sit down, and begin conversing with your professor. You look over your exam. Your professor smiles and asks you if you'd like the paid tutoring job offered by the department for having received the only 3.9 on the exam.
I see a distinct difference between feeling emotions and expressing emotions. I agree that repressing emotion expression can be detrimental, whether it is laughing or crying. My biggest questions are, is our ability to feel certain emotions culturally or biologically constructed? Does everyone have the same feeling for Jealously, for example. Can it be gaged? Similarly, where does the expression of emotion come from? I would be interested to compare an expression such as crying in several situations, such as physical vs. emotional pain. What's the difference?
Name: amanda maclay
Date: 2002-11-05 14:29:47
Message Id: 3536
I agree with Brie, in that there is a very big differance between having emotions and showing them; clearly the controlability of emotions woudl seem to lye in the fact of controling your actions. But, I think that the pertinant point hear is not that you may or may not be able to control actions that are due to emotional bursts, but being able to actually control how you feel on a day to day basis. For example, is it possible to make yourself happier if you are haivng a bad day? Can you yourself move out of your depression? I feel that in some cases yes. Excluding cases in which people have serious chemical imbalances either either from drugs or hereditary stuff or whatever, for people who are, let's say, down on their luck, I am a firm believer in karma. Those feelings that you try to support in yourself, and exert towards others has a huge affect on, in my experiance, the way you feel on a day to day basis. In terms of feeling a certain emotion towards an immediate inbalance in your life, that is a little differant. I suppose with that it still is feasible for an individual to change emotion. for example, my dog dies, i am sad, then i convince myself that he is better of dead becaus he was so sick. so essentially i am creating a way for me to cope with it. let say mourn. is this an emotion? hmmmm, can we control our emotions?
Name: Elizabeth Damore
Date: 2002-11-06 13:05:54
Message Id: 3561
Amanda's post brought up an interesting point. What's the distinction between controlling your emotions and coping with them? Control seems to imply a repression of "negative" emotions, which can't be healthy. However, coping with your emotions allows you to feel sad or upset, but prevents these feelings from overwhelming you. You may not be able to control your emotions, but you usually can control how well you cope with them.
Name: Anastasia Michals
Date: 2002-11-07 23:42:07
Message Id: 3597
First, just in case all you guys didn't see our lab notes the first time, we posted them up twice. Pretty smart if you ask me. We obviously are doing a thorough job of getting our hypotheses out there. No seriously, sorry about that. Anyway, I think Brie made an excellent point in her example. It is impossible to control emotions, I think. They are almost set, certain experiences seem to trigger certain emotions. If something bad happens, you usually feel sad, or angry. If something good happens, you usually feel happy. There are certain actions and events that spark our emotions. They are almost instinctive, or back to a previous topic, could they be considered human nature? Is is natural to humans that we cry when we are sad and we laugh when we are happy? I think that to some extent we can control how we act out our emotions. Some people do not cry, while others, once they start, can not seem to stop crying. It is in interesting topic, but I do think that it must have a very concrete answer. I like to think of it this way: it is impossible to control every event that happens, therefore it is impossible to control our emotions. We might wake up happy one morning and say to ourselves that nothing is going to bring us down that day. But, what if your mom was injured in a car accident. Would you not be sad because you were determined to stay happy all day long? You become sad because of the things that happen to you in life, which are mostly uncontrollable, therefore your emotions are as well.
Date: 2002-11-08 00:38:55
Message Id: 3598
I wanted to ask people a few questions about lab... I finished lab on Wednesday and went back to my dorm room, and began using my computer. I realized right away that I had mouse-clicking reflex problems... I also seemed to have a bit of a problem with hearing commands and reading, and I was thinking that maybe this was a result of our lab experiments? Did anyone else get this too?
I thought that I had a lot of trouble doing the read-negate part of the lab because I had been so classically conditioned to read certain commands and carry them out. But only a few hours of doing the opposite of what I had been so accustomed to doing for so many years seems to have had a lasting effect, if only for the next few hours...
Name: Kyla Ellis
Date: 2002-11-08 00:54:05
Message Id: 3599
Going back to Brie's comment, (again) I liked her question about if our ability to feel certain emotions culturally or biologically constructed. I think it comes from both, partly. For example, Sea Turtles will eat their own babies if they see them in the ocean, something that humans (well, most of them) would not be able to do because it would cause them to feel sad, guilty, and all that. Our brains are constructed so that we can have certain feelings that other living organisms cannot have, so biologically, our emotions are constructed in this way.
However, I have seen evidence of emotions being culturally affected, also. I do not think that culture has anything to do with our ABILITY to feel emotions, but with the way that we deal with them. For example, I read a book by a woman that did AIDS research in Colombia. When she asked poor women if they minded that their husbands had the occasional extra-marital fling, they replied that they did not, because their husbands were good to them when they were home and they were in no place to question what the man of the house did in his own time. However, if you ask a middle class British woman if she felt the same way, I'm sure you would get a much different answer.
Date: 2002-11-08 01:32:23
Message Id: 3600
So I've been thinking about the conversations in class regarding the fact that the breakdown of improbable systems to probable systems allows for the creation of more improbable systems...and then I was watching Queer as Folk and there was an episode where three of the main characters are in a sort of love triangley thing. Ted loves Michael, Michael loves Brian, and Brian doesn't love anyone. Brian and Ted are talking about their impossible situations- Brian tells Ted to give Michael up and says that the only reason Ted loves Michael (and Michael loves Brian) is that it is an impossible situation, and Ted is intentionally inflicting pain upon himself because he believes subconsciously that he is unworthy of love and therefore doomed to pine away for all eternity. And the whole point of that was: does love, then, mirror life? For every "beauty/beast" relationship that breaks down and becomes "boy/girl next door" is there a cosmic meeting of the souls somewhere? Is it the number of "improbable" relationships that don't work and become "probable" relationships that make the successful improbable ones possible? Can you even address this point because there is no way to summarize human attraction into a list of probables and improbables...I'm inclined to think the latter, but thought the concept might be interesting. Also, what do you guys think of the idea that we love only what we can't have because we secretly feel unworthy? Certainly this isn't a universal truth, but is it a possibility for some people? Is there any way to answer such a thing- for that matter, is there such a thing as love?! Too many questions, but I'd like to hear what you guys think:)
Name: Chelsea Phillips
Subject: shameless plug...again
Date: 2002-11-08 09:03:09
Message Id: 3603
Sorry guys, just one more time!!
Come see the Shakespeare Troupe's Performance of HAMLET'S SHORTS!
8pm Goodhardt Music Room TONIGHT (friday) and Saturday!!
It is less than an hour long...and you can buy a really cool t-shirt that says "Big Willy Rocks My World"! Only $10!
Subject: improbable vs probable
Date: 2002-11-08 10:40:55
Message Id: 3606
From the beginning of the course I felt like using the terms "improbable" and "probable assemblies" wasn't the way to go about it. I originally thought that it was just becuase I had been used to other terms for it, "unstable" and "stable" or talking in terms of free energy, so I came to accept the idea. But then I was thinking a couple of classes about it and I decided I still didn't like the use of those terms. What makes us an improbable assembly? We learned that it is very unlikely that if we were to randomize our body parts, it'd be very improbable that we came out the way we are now. But I don't think that's how we should be viewing ourselves. In the beginning (I sound like a bible) there was just a random assortment of atoms, and there was some jolt of energy that caused many of these atoms to bond and form planets and stars. Over time other atoms bonded and formed life. The atoms themselves, as we've learned in our study of carbohydrates, are designed to fit together in certain chains. Therefore when a carbon atom finds four hydrogen atoms, they are very likely to form methane due to their structure. So pretty much, all of our atoms in our body are supposed to fit together. If we randomized our body parts, threw them out of a bag and put them together the way they fell, our bodies wouldn't work that way. It's not improbable that our head would be where our foot was, it's impossible - merely for the sake that evolution would weed out someone like that within one generation. In that sense, evolution and chemical bonding have combined to create a species well adapted to its environment. If you look at our world, where do you see something that's not an improbable assembly? The most probable assembly it seems, is heat, which I only see when i see heat waves rising from a stove or a fire. Everywhere else I look I see things that fall under our category of improbable assembly. How can the world be mostly improbable? I like "unstable" and "stable" beacuse yes, we are unstable beings, and if we do leave our rooms alone they will become messier (on the molecular level). The bonds in our bodies require energy to be put together, and when work is required to hold something together, it is obvious that the something is naturally not held together. Anyway, I'm not telling Prof. Grobstein he's wrong, cause I can see why he uses those terms. I just wanted to put my views out there, cause we like diversity, yay.
Subject: Emotions and Science
Date: 2002-11-08 11:06:26
Message Id: 3609
I also agree with Brie. I was thinking about the idea of controlling emotions and it seems that although we cannot control our emotions, science can. What do I mean by this? Well, antidepressants are mood enhancers that can change a person's emotions from depressed to happy. Although I have never experienced them first hand, I know many people who have taken them and they feel that they do change their emotional states.
Name: Kathryn Bailey
Date: 2002-11-08 13:59:16
Message Id: 3618
I was thinking about the discussion in class today about color. I am puzzled by the hypothesis that organisms have molecules that absorb certain wavelengths, which in turn cause other organisms to see color, for a reason. What difference does it make if a human has molecules that reflect black, blond, brown, or red light from hair, or blue, green, brown from the eyes. Why is it important for some people to have blue eyes and others to have green? I understand that humans who live in warms climates developed dark skin and eye color to protect against the harmful effects of strong sunlight, but what purpose do the variations have within such a population? Can't organisms have a particular color for no reason? Why must there be a purpose to everything?
Date: 2002-11-08 16:35:20
Message Id: 3621
Like Kathryn, I was thinking about color after class today. Theoretically, I understand that what I perceive as color is just light reflected (refracted? I admitted it was a theoretical understanding...) back to me. What I am having difficulty getting a grip on is what happens if there is no light? Because I think most people would agree that a green t-shirt, sitting in a well-lit room, would still be green even if there was no one there to see it. (Kind of like the old 'if a tree falls in the woods' thing.) But take the organisms that live down at the bottom of the ocean where there has never been any light, do they have color? The picture showed that they had color, once they were exposed to light and the picture taken. Does that mean that they were colorless until the light was on them? Or that WE just wouldn't have been able to see the color, because there was no light for us to see anything? If the room with the green t-shirt becomes completely dark, is the t-shirt still green? Or does it just have the ability (thanks to the handy-dandy molecules) to become green? Hmm...
Name: Laura Bang!
Date: 2002-11-08 19:46:04
Message Id: 3623
This class rocks! I love the discussions we have in this forum, they are so interesting. Diversity of opinion is a very interesting and fun thing.
On the subject of emotions... I'm doing my web paper on emotion and I found some very interesting stuff. For instance, how are we able to tell the difference between subtly different emotions, such as anger and hatred, or serenity and contentedness? There are so many emotions, but when it comes time to describe them, most people have a very hard time. People readily admit that they can tell the difference between a real and a forced smile, but most people cannot explain how they can tell the difference. Facial expressions are a very important part of expressing our emotions. We say that we can't control our emotions, but what about actors? They are able to make their faces convey complex emotions in a very believable way. How do they do that? They are not really feeling the emotions they are portraying, yet they are able to simulate them almost perfectly (some better than others...), so how do they do that if emotions can't be controlled? I'm still of the opinion that we can't completely control our emotions, but I don't know what to say about actors... any ideas?
Name: Erin Myers
Subject: Science and Society
Date: 2002-11-08 21:38:20
Message Id: 3624
I know it's been a week or two since this subject came up, but I haven't really stopped thinking about it. Today while doing some last minute research for my web paper I came across a great site that you can access from campus: Science Magazines Essays on Science and Society. There are essays on everything from Ethics to Chipanzees. Please check it out.
Date: 2002-11-09 00:26:31
Message Id: 3625
After class on Friday 11/08 I was left with some unresolved thoughts on what we can see versus want is actually out there. The colors on Europa is just one example of colors and, to our knowledge at least, no life to gain from them. The question that was raised in class today is: what purpose are they serving if not other living organisms?
This made me think about humans and the earth. What do we gain from the colors of the earth? We gain from the oxygen plants produce but do we gain from their green color? Are the colors really for use? Maybe the colors only exist in our minds, at least the way we see them, and if so, does it matter who/what they exist for? Do colors exist if we can't see them? I dare to state that if there is an answer, it is irrelevant.
Subject: the futility of improbability
Date: 2002-11-09 00:28:25
Message Id: 3626
The other topic that got me thinking is the sun becoming a less improbable assembly as time goes by. The sun is creating more and more improbable assemblies as it itself becomes more probable, but to what end?
Eventually the sun will explode. There cannot be life on the earth without the sun as we have determined (except for the few chemo-autotrophic organisms) so isn't nature killing itself in effect? What is the point of having very wide diversity if its all going to die in the end? What's the point...
Name: Sarah Tan
Date: 2002-11-09 17:12:46
Message Id: 3627
Well, I'm going to bring up an alternative (strange) explanation for organisms having color when there isn't any light. Is it necessary to have light to be able to see? It's necessary for humans, but is it possible that there are other animals that can sense the colors, either by sight or something else? So maybe the colors, or the molecular arrangement that makes the colors exist, still have a purpose, just not one that we know about yet. Perhaps there are organisms that know what the colors "mean," in the same way that predators know not to stay away from wasps and bees, but those organisms may not base their judgements on light, but on something else by which the color molecules make their presence known. For that matter, do we know (I mean, I don't know) if there is proof that the animals on land who seem to make judgments on color can actually see color, or if they might possibly be going off on some other indicator that we haven't pinpointed yet.
Date: 2002-11-10 10:19:37
Message Id: 3629
I agree with Sarah that the colors of plants and animals deep in the ocean may have other uses than just for color. In the animal kingdom on land, many times color can be defensive, as a means to hide from an enemy, seem larger, or seem dangerous. But if the ocean is pitch black, what can the point of color, and how do we know it is there, and not just a reaction that our bodies create to cope with the darkness?
This also raises the point of how we all see color. I mean, if I say blue, do you see the same color? Is it a question of the limit of the metaphor that we all use to communicate (language)? Could it be a biological difference in how we all see?
Name: Katie Campbell
Subject: Physical Response
Date: 2002-11-10 11:36:15
Message Id: 3631
So back to the subject of emotions that's floating around our thoughts and forum entries. I talked last week about the fact that I think we can't control our emotions but the way in which we react to certain situations. Now, I'm attempting to figure out how our bodies react to certain emotions. Emotions seem to be a part of the abstract in our bags of chemicals. Yes, the production of certain chemicals and presence of different reactions results in different feelings (like the endorphins from exercise producing a "high" feeling, etc) but how do these chemical reactions relate to the burning pain in your heart when you feel so alone, the knots in your stomach right before you go on stage to perform, the weak feeling in your knees when you catch the glance of the person you love, or the feeling of being 10 times lighter than the moment before when you've finally finished that 15 page paper...
I guess I'm posing a question. Is it that specific chemical reactions that result in different emotional feelings are targeted at specific physical feelings and responses from the rest of the body or is it different for each person, then implying that there isn't really order or rythym to the whole emotional thing. I'm just rambling on about this because it's something crazy to think about. Professor Grobstein mentioned in class the other day that there might be some research to suggest that the feelings of emotions might actually be physically present in the heart...so but then what about those of us who feel things in their stomach, carry stress, anxiousness, etc in their neck and shoulders? Just something interesting to think about. We all are different people with separate genetics but is there something in emotions that is connected by us all being human??
Name: Chelsea Phillips
Date: 2002-11-10 11:57:36
Message Id: 3632
I wanted to respond to Anatasia's comment about controlling your emotions...I think she raises a really good point that because you can't predict everything that happens, like your mom gettting in an accident or your dad losing his job, even a conscious decision to be happy can't make you supress those emotions. In fact, I always wind up with my worst days if I try wake up in the morning and say, "well, I think I'll be happy today!" Inevitably life throws me something that knocks me off my feet those days. Yet, it isn't a bad thing not to be able to supress those emotions- I would say that being determinedly happy even in the face of tragedy would lead to a lot of guilt later...at least for me. Anyway, I thought Anastasia made a really good point that the decisions made inside yourself don't necessarily give you any protection from outside events, and that's natural.
Name: Diana DiMuro
Date: 2002-11-10 20:39:12
Message Id: 3637
So I wanted to comment on two different people's reactions to Brie's initial comments about emotions. I thought Katie's comments about the production of certain chemicals and reactions based on certain physical feelings and responses is very true. She posed a really good question of whether there is something in emotions that is connected by us all being human. Well I think there is something about our physical responses to emotions or certain situations which is very similar in all humans. In high school I read this book called "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers." It explained a lot of what physically occurs in your body when certain things happen that are stressful. Like what happens when you have a heart attact. But it also explained the idea of "flight or fight." It was really interesting to read why when someone is afraid or in an emergency situation why they can suddenly run farther and faster than they ever have before, or why they seem to become much stronger. It talked a lot about the reaction of adrenaline in your body, and how your brain can increase blood flow to your legs when you need to run, or to your heart when you are having a heart attack. It explained why when you are really nervous or stressed, you often have more blood pumped to your lungs to help you breathe, or less to your stomach, giving you the sensation of "butterflies." So I guess no matter what cultural or genetic make-up someone has, there are some very basic physical reactions that everyone can have just by being human. It's pretty crazy to think about.
I also wanted to comment a little about Adrienne's comments about whether science can control our emotions, and if anti-depressants are really the answer to helping control our emotions. While I too, don't have any personal experience with taking medication for depression, I know several people who have and I'm not sure it's as simple as changing from sad to happy when taking anti-depressants. I have one friend who has tried to explain to me that taking anti-depressants often makes his general mood "more stable" but that it doesn't eliminate feelings of sadness or depression altogether. Many of my friends have also explained that medication alone is often not enough to help cure depression, even in cases when it is attributed to some sort of severe chemical imbalance. Often some kind of counselling or psychotherapy is needed in addition to medication to help solve the problem. So I think counselling in a way is just like a "buddy-system" for helping people cope with their emotions. I think Brie is right that no one has absolute control over their emotions but on the whole, most people have some minimal kind of control on how they display those emotions. I think when some people are depressed, they have a hightened inability to control how they express their emotions. It's scary too, because the few people I have spoken to about taking anti-depressants have addressed that they often have many side-effects that never occurred before they took the medications.
Name: Diana La Femina
Date: 2002-11-10 20:58:58
Message Id: 3638
Ok, first to comment on Brie's post. I don't necessarily agree. I see the situation that she gave to be a little faulty. The person did not "control" their emotions, the circumstances did. Now, if the person had gotten a 3.9 and consciously decided to be upset and pessimistic (or however you spell that word), then they would have been controling their emotions to a certain extent. But you can't really control your emotions, they control you. You can try to put yourself into a mindframe where you feel a certain emotion and not another, but that's all we can do. And yes, that can be seen as controling your emotions, but it's not like we have a happy switch that we can turn on and off.
As for Will's comment, I happen to agree for one particular reason. I've been wondering since probable and improbable assemblies were brought up: isn't a rock an improbable assembly? My friend once found a rock that, I swear, looked like Richard Nixon. Or Walter Malthow, we couldn't decide which. Point is that this to me is an improbable assembly. Does that mean that this rock was alive?
Yay Sarah! Great thought! On a similar note, over the summer my friends and I got into a discussion about color. Yeah, I know, Long Island's a strange place. Anyway, we were wondering if everyone sees color the same way. Everyone agreed that my friend's shirt was red, but what if I was seeing a different color than everyone else? What if my red is actually what someone else would call blue, but I've grown up calling this particular shade red and so it is red to me? Would we ever be able to tell if the colors I see are exactly what someone else sees? Just the fact that some people are color blind proves that not everyone sees colors the same way.
Date: 2002-11-11 00:09:50
Message Id: 3645
I wonder if we necessarily see color differently in the way Diana is thinking... perhaps we all see color slightly differently because no two people stand in the same light, see color from the same angle or perspective. It may seem even more likely that each of us see color differently, because we have to relate such information through words and actions, and interpretation relies entirely on the people who send and receive the information.
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