- My whole life I have puzzled about people asking me to feel things. I can’t, but sometimes fake it.
- What does it mean to “hurt someone’s feelings”? Recent brain studies show that social rejection activates the same brain areas as physical injury.
- Recently reading a chapter on feeling by Marilyn Ferguson’s 2005 book, AQUARIUS NOW I had a valuable insight.
FEELINGS can be both PERCEIVED and IMAGINED.
I can perceptually feel physiological alterations to my body. Touching things with my finger or body is my exemplar for “feeling”.
- I can feel cuts, bruises, and strains. I know headaches. I can feel my painful elbows, and knees. I know the feeling of cramps. I know stomach aches.
- These are physiological processes where changes in parts of my body signal to my brain and I feel pain.
I have poor proprioceptive perception. I do not feel my toes separately, unless one is in pain. Moving my feet is like moving a flipper.
- I don’t feel the direction my feet are pointing, which made skiing difficult. I am not well coordinated and poor at athletics. Swimming and golfing were my sports.
I cannot imagine my body in a position other than what it is in, and even that “image” is vague and often inaccurate.
As I have noted elsewhere I have no mental imagery in any sensory modality. No visual, auditory, taste, smell, temperature, touch mental imagery. If my senses are not stimulated I have no sensory like experiences.
The “feelings” that creative persons speak about, such as Einstein, must be “imagined feelings” – and my lacking mental imagery implies that I probably can’t experience such “imagined feelings” associated with my own creativity.
- Einstein claimed “that ideas came to him first in the form of vague and diffuse bodily sensations that gradually refined themselves into reproducible feeling tones” [Ch 7, Aquarius Now]
- “Imagined feelings” may be accompanied by some “perceived feelings”.
- What I have read of reports of feelings associated with creativity have been lacking in specific physiological regions or processes. The descriptions are more metaphor. Research into such reports is needed.
Since JrHi School I have picked the skin off my fingers; with variations I continue this habit. I play with my beard to the disturbance of others, including students when I lectured. After I shaved my beard I would sometimes stroke my face. I would sometimes say that I had to keep proving that I was still here.
- Recently I have developed a strange habit. You may see me massaging a rubber finger tip covering one of my fingers. These are the tips used by people who have to flip through paper pages and it gives one a grip on a sheet of paper.
- I started using this when I had slowly removed finger nails from some fingers – a variation of my picking skin. I used the rubber finger tips to keep my from doing this and letting my finger nails heal and grow. They are now grown, although I still have to resist picking at my nails.
- But, I am now addicted to my finger caps, as I call them. If I am without one I almost panic and will go to special efforts to have access to them. I just bought two boxes of them today. Size 13, 12 per box, at Office Max.
Beyond my strange behavior, there may be useful information here.
- How many others have no or very weak imagined feelings? How does that effect their lives?
- Is there any research on the distinction between perceived and imagined feelings?
- How might this distinction be approached in other languages? How do the terms “feeling” and “emotions” translate?
- What are the variations in the phenomenology of feeling and emotions?
- Damasio proposes that “emotions” are the brain’s representation of holistic body changes. There are distinct physiological conditions during the classic emotions that are also accurately mapped onto facial expressions. How are the feelings associated with emotions related to the concept of emotions as a physiological condition?
- Has the relation between “imagined feelings” and the the process of creative emergence been studied beyond the crude metaphorical references that I have read?
When I have a cascade of significant insights, there is a heightened awareness “feeling”, like an intellectual orgasm, that is quite pleasant. But I don’t associate it with any part of my body. It alerts me that something special is happening. As far as I know, this never precedes the first insights.
- I have a hypothetical explanation for such phenomena, which I once lectured to my Psych students about. We organize information inputted into systems to “explain” our experiences. These systems will filter and even resist information that might challenge our beliefs. But, for some people some conflicting info does get through and begins an alternative organization with relative independence of the dominant organization. Why this happens must be researched. A moment may come when the two organizations interact and sometimes the alternative organization will emerge as the dominant system. We call such events Ah Ha! insights, Eureka moments, or Geistesblitz. My “feeling” comes with these shifts; some big, others little. My own life as been one long chain of such events.
- Indeed, at times I believe that my unconscious mind can safely harbor many alternative realities. I can comprehend many of these alternative conceptual schemes even though I know, from evidence, that they are false. Many people can’t permit themselves to do this. They fear that if they comprehend an alternative they will be forced to believe it. They may actually be right, in that deep down their wholeness is aware of problems with their beliefs and their belief system protects itself by refusing to attempt comprehension of alternatives.
That I and others don’t experience “imagined feelings” (or only weakly) doesn’t mean that our neural associates don’t exist. Although I have no visual imagery my non-sensory imagination is highly “spatial”. It is analogous to the “tip of the tongue” experience, you “know” the word but you can’t think or say it. Instead of one image to rise to consciousness there are a multitude of variations – thus none come up.
That I don’t actually have conscious “feelings” associated with my creativity doesn’t necessarily mean that those circuits in my brain are not active as if I were experiencing “feelings”.
Yet, the individual difference in the degree of feeling associated with creativity, or other processes or situation, may be relevant.