++EMOTION (duplicate?) – set point




“…block the epinephrine receptors in the muscle spindles, which set the resting muscular tension and the uptake of adrenaline (the alarm hormone) in the brain.  (Ratey/ug/223)”

“…interfere with cellular action in the muscles as well as in the brain.  (Ratey/ug/223)”

“…both the brain and the body contribute to emotions and do so in a complex, interdependent way.  (Ratey/ug/223)”

“..while a few unique emotions, such as altruism, are dominated by mental processes, the rest are equally due to the body.  (Ratey/ug/223)”

“…emotion wells up from the brain and the body acting together.  The role of the body in emotion has been discounted, especially since the psychopharmacological revolution….  But we are now bringing the body back into the analysis of emotion.  (Ratey/ug/223)”

  1. (Ratey/ug/223)”

“The new view shows that emotion is not the conveniently isolated brain function that we once were taught.  Emotion is messy, complicated, primitive, and undefined because it’s all over the place, intertwined with cognition and physiology.  Despite this distributed complexity, science is beginning to be able to look at one emotional (Ratey/ug/223) pathway and then another, and to figure out how these bits of brain are interacting.  (Ratey/ug/224)”


“In some cases, physiological changes such as butterflies in the stomach or a racing heart are too slow to be the determinants of emotion; when we see a bear we begin to run away before we even realize that we are afraid.  In other situations, we not only have time to think before physiological changes take place, we sometimes have time to act; we fear being confronted by a bear if we wander into the woods, and so we stay on the beaten path.  (Ratey/ug/224)”

Some people can feel the physiological changes and still have time to think before they respond

“According to the Cannon-Bard theory of emotion, information about an emotion stimulus enters the brain through the thal- (Ratey/ug/224) amus and from there follows two pathways:  to the cerebral cortex, where cognitive assessment is made, or to the amygdala and the hypothalamus, which direct body reactions.  (Ratey/ug/225)”

information about emotion stimulus enters brain through  thalamus, from there follows one of two pathways:

to the cerebral cortex for cognitive assessment

or to the amygdala and the hypothalamus, which direct body reactions (Ratey/ug/225)  cc to files


“The Schacter-Singer theory of emotion suggests that when the brain receives feedback that the body is physiologically aroused, it then looks out at the world to evaluate and decide what the emotion may be.  (Ratey/ug/225)”


“…thalamus divides information into two “streams” – one that provides cognitive assessment and the other that creates physiological arousal and physical reaction to a stimulus.  (Ratey/ug/225)”  cc fiels

this visceral brain is named the limbic system, “and it is still generally assumed to be the network in the brain that senses and generates emotions.  (Ratey/ug/225)”  cc files


amygdala removed in both hemispheres, “While not cognitively impaired at all, the woman has some deficits in recognizing emotions of all kinds and a complete lack of recognition of the emotions of fear and anger in people’s voices.  She understands what fear and anger are and when and how they (Ratey/ug/225) might be expressed, but she cannot comprehend fear or anger as they are manifested in real life.  Imagine how your life would be if you could not understand that someone was angry with you or that you were angry with them.  Imagine the danger if you could not understand the urgency in a command like “Look out for the bus!”  (Ratey/ug/226)”  cc amygdala

This is related somehow to my inability to combine awareness of the emotional tone of words spoken at the same time as understanding the words themselves


“Joseph LeDoux at New York University is combining the center-versus-systems paradigms, postulating that there are different pathways for different emotions, rather than one region or system that underlies them all.  (Ratey/ug/226)”



“Contemporary researchers do not all agree on which specific feelings make up the human emotional palette.  Most agree, though, that there are four basic emotions – fear, anger, sadness and joy – and that the other emotions are created from combinations of these four, just as all colors are made up from combinations of the three primary colors.  For example, worry, anxiety, and stress all derive mostly from fear, with a little anger or sadness thrown in.  However, some researchers claim that surprise, disgust, and guilt are their own unique emotions.  (Ratey/ug/226)”

social emotions:  “importance of the social realm to our psychological functioning.  (Ratey/ug/226)”

emotions are much more subtle and complex than we may realize.  (Ratey/ug/226)”

Basic emotions such as happiness and sadness are separate functions, and they represent opposite patterns of activity in the hemispheres of the brain.  (Ratey/ug/229)”

“Increased activity on the right side of the brain often signals depression, while activity on the left side often indicates happiness, euphoria, and even mania.  (Ratey/ug/229)”

All intense emotions correspond to right brain activity, including joy

Left hemisphere more positive mood

Right hemisphere more negative one

“…infants are born with an innate predisposition toward a more active left or right brain, meaning a happier or sadder temperament.  (Ratey/ug/230)”

this is very simplistic, and says nothing about environment in early infancy and how it affects hemispheric development and emotions!

You can’t study adults, or even infants at 9 to 12 months old and not take environment into account as it shapes the developing brain.  Shame on him!

Increase right brain with worry, “…more activity in the right frontal lobe, a central structure in planning and decision-making.  (Ratey/ug/230)”  cc frontal lobe

“…the right hemisphere has more to do than the left with the final processing of emotions, once they’ve made their way up the emotional pathway from the limbic system to the prefrontal cortex.  If this is the case, the right hemisphere may play a leading role in the comprehension and production of emotion, just as the left hemisphere plays the primary role in language.  (Ratey/ug/230)”  cc prefrontal cortex


“Both the right and the left frontal lobes are very important for the regulation of emotion, needed for making decisions in the social and personal realm.  It may be that this area connects the limbic system and the motor cortex, establishing the link between areas that plan and those that carry out the actions.  There may even be an “upper” path between the limbic system and the cortex through the cingulate gyrus that deals with pleasure and sociability and a “lower” path involving the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex that deals with issues of self-preservation.  (Ratey/ug/230)”  cc files


Universal emotion – fight, flight or freeze  (Ratey/ug/232)”

“…”freeze,” which is not an indicator of indecision in the face of fear, but stems rather from an ancestral skill used to respond to a stalker or predator.  (Ratey/ug/232)”

“A fearful stimulus primes the body with adrenaline and prompts the fastest physical reaction possible. When the brain is triggered in fear, the autonomic system and stress hormones are activated.  The amygdala gets immediate input from the thalamus and acts to start up the internal readiness and reaction system.

This bypasses the cortex and any consideration of the context and suchit is just responding.

In fact, the feared stimulus and the programmed response to it are indelibly etched into the amygdala, as its job is to alert the animal to dangerous, novel, and interesting situations and to direct its response.  (Ratey/ug/232)”  cc amygdala and thalamus

“The physical and mental responses to fear were so important to the survival of primitive man that they remain very powerful and long-lasting.  Unfortunately, this adaptive response is not always appropriate in today’s world.  Our civilization has evolved away from the need to overrespond, but we still do.  (Ratey/ug/232)”

consider this in regard to those of us whose brains were created in a malevolent world!

“Once we learn to be afraid of something, our brains become programmed to remember that stimulus in the same way, so it’s hard to get rid of our conditioned fears.  (Ratey/ug/232)”



Adaptive fear mechanism “that can sometimes get out of control….if a stimulus like a loud noise is repeatedly paired with a dangerous situation, some people will develop an overactive startle response.  (Ratey/ug/233)”

What about if the trauma is paired with people from the start?

”This is often the case in PTSD.  People with this disorder – war veterans or victims of abuse – startle easily and often.  They suffer from physical ailments more frequently than the general population, and have an increased incidence of cancer, which is associated with a lowered immune response and raised levels of cortisolMany of the physical and psychological symptoms associated with PTSD

can be traced to the frequent, sometimes constant state of startle and hyperalertness that afflicts these individuals.  (Ratey/ug/233)”



cc to files

“The amygdala is the area of the brain most involved in fear.  Stimuli have a direct pathway through the sensory filter of the thalamus to the amygdala, which can then mobilize the body through its brainstem connections.  If you see a snake, or anything that looks like a snake, in the corner of a shadowy garage, the amygdala is immediately triggered and you react before cognizing [sic] the image.  The image triggers the optic nerve to send a signal into the brain.  On its way to the cortex, the signal takes a short route to the amygdala, which shouts “Emergency!” to the rest of your body, triggering a cascade of reactions:  your heart rate soars, your blood pressure increases, and your senses become heightened as your body prepares to take action. (Ratey/ug/233)”

This is exactly what I mean if abuse occurs in infancy, and people become snakes, really – and the same reaction occurs.

Yet because this reaction is built into the brain, and all social information is attached to it, it becomes nearly impossible to change it.  Insecure attachments only become secure rarely – and this reaction to people as if they are snakes is in essence at the root of an insecure attachment.

Especially when there is no organized response at all – like in that Romantic Love book, they don’t even talk about the disorganized insecures – just the organized “insecures.”.

“With enough time or experience, reason can stop the action.  There is another, slower pathway for fear, where the information about a fearful stimulus goes from the thalamus to the frontal cortex and then to (Ratey/ug/233) the amygdala.  This occurs when you realize that the “snake” is really an old coiled garage-door spring.  The response to the second pathway overrules the indication of the first.  Now all systems reverse.  Your blood pressure comes down and your heart rate returns to normal.  The lower brain, the amygdala and the rest of the limbic system, is inhibited by the upper brain.  You then begin to “think” about what just happened rather than just respond.  (Ratey/ug/234)”

“The two pathways can be seen as the low road and high road of fearful responses to danger. The path straight through the thalamic projections to the amygdala (the low road) is rough and crude but fast.  The pathway using the cortex (the high road) gives a more accurate assessment and can be expected to lead to a more considered response, but it takes longer.  (Ratey/ug/234)”

Now this is where it gets tricky – and where only those of us with severe infant abuse histories will be able to relate.  When the presence of people are a life-threatening stimulus, the low road if the response pathway all of the time – automatically!  When I think about not even being able to hear words together with prosody in normal speech, any time I am feeling distressed around people – which is nearly all of the time – like I want to run from them, hide from them – thankfully, not having the aggression response – which Cho did.

I guess there must be away to cognitively convince myself that people are not scary all of the time, but that won’t change the overall damage, like that I can’t empathize with them and probably never will be able to.

Like Sharon at work – she can get needs met just being around people at work.  It’s not the same for me.  Like I have to pretend things…

Cindy and I were just talking about that – how helping people who suffered severe abuse understand the ways they have been damaged, and there are things they cannot change.  So we have to learn to DO things that other people can just BE that way.  The root of our problems are so complex, and started so early, that everything was built out of square, off kilter – started out wrong, and everything went in the wrong direction.

But this Romantic Love article from the book I Xeroxed has some very specific information about adult attachment – though they do not talk about disorganized insecure – just the organized insecure styles.

Fear responses to sudden, potentially life-threatening stimuli such as explosive noises or the attack of an animal [and consider when PEOPLE are attacking animals from birth, especially the mother!] are automatic in most people. (Ratey/ug/234)”

“But many other fear responses are learned….New MRI studies also show that teenage brains may not have fully developed the reasoning pathways to adequately assess fear, which may contribute to teens’ difficulty in dealing with emotions. [more activity in their brains in the amygdala and less in the frontal lobe]….  Apparently, there is a gradual shift of emotional and cognitive processing from the instinctive to the cognitive regions as the adolescent brain learns and grows.  [this is supposed to happen, but with abuse this never develops properly] While this growth of wisdom or activation of the frontal cortex can help teens learn how to stay calm in stressful situations, it can also cause them to learn from parents or friends fears they didn’t have, or need to have, such as an undue fear of heights or of social situations.  (Ratey/ug/234)”

“As the snake example shows, fear involves contextual conditioning – those other stimuli that are present.  A garage corner is dark, cool, and dirty, making it much more likely to be the place to find a snake than a corner of the living room.  [not necessarily, having had snakes in the house]  Context is a collection of many stimuli (Ratey/ug/234) and is dependent on accurate memory of situations.  The hippocampus is the brain area responsible for assessing this function.  It receives processed information from the cortex that has already been associated with the context of the situation and the fearful stimulus, bringing the whole picture into perspective.  (Ratey/ug/235)”

Contextual conditioning can be used in reverse to treat panic disorders and phobias such as fear of snakes, dogs, or heights.  The technique, which is called “flooding,” involves a step-by-step process of gradually experiencing more and more of gradually experiencing more and more of the feared stimulus so that the patient can learn that snakes or dogs or heights are not invariably dangerous.  (Ratey/ug/235)”

With people, too?

Can “…train their cortex to re-evaluate the situation and quickly respond to inhibit their amygdala.  (Ratey/ug/235)”

“The flooding process is straight cognitive behavioral training; it is rearranging the circuits in the brain, reducing all the neural connections that have long supported the thesis that height equals falling while strengthening the circuits that convey “safe.”  By gradually rewiring, the patient begins to refocus on the fact that he’s not going to fall off the building.  Separating the low (bodily) and high (cognitive) roads in this way seems to be the key to successful treatment.  (Ratey/ug/235)”

Unfortunately, our “accurate memory of situations” is horrific!  Is this part of what the holding therapy is for reactive attachment disorder?

“National institute of Mental Health researcher Dennis Murphy and several colleagues have identified an “anxiety gene.”  In a study of 500 people, they found a difference in a gene that affects the level of serotonin in the brain.  Serotonin is the brain’s brake and policeman; it prevents the brain from getting out of control from fear or worry.  It has a calming effect that helps us to assure ourselves that we are going to survive and elevates mood and self-esteem.  Some 30 percent of the subjects who had the longer form of the gene, which promoted more serotonin in the brain, had lower levels of anxiety, while 70 percent who had the shorter form of the gene were fond to have higher levels of anxiety.  The fact that the majority of people are more anxious may mean that they are more uncomfortable on a daily basis, but are also more ready to respond to the environment.  A little healthy anxiety leads to a greater ability to survive in our constantly changing world.  (Ratey/ug/236)”


“Anger evolved as a unique set of feelings and behaviors that has its own value in changing other people’s behavior.  (Ratey/ug/236)”

“We must walk a fine line to get a decent benefit without an outrageous cost.  Therefore, the most important thing to learn about anger is when and how to use and control it.  (Ratey/ug/237)”


“Emotions are not nearly as distinct as we would like to think they are….  Throughout the ages people have found different emotions and different levels of emotion more or less adaptive.  Innate temperaments for these emotions become genetically determined and are subjected to success or failure in the survival of the fittest.  (Ratey/ug/226)”

“From an evolutionary perspective, emotion is the result of behavior that has been repeated over and over through the generations, such as escaping from danger, finding food, and mating.  Primitive movements such as goosebumps, snarling, erection of body hair, flashing of feathers, and biting are all intimately connected with emotion.  (Ratey/ug/228)”


“A good illustration is the emotion of fear and the movement involved in the fight-or-flight response.

During threatening situations, many interacting parallel pathways that include neuronal, chemical, and hormonal activity are activated.

The autonomic nervous system creates internal visceral movements, while the

voluntary motor pathways orient us and begin activating for external movements to fight or flee.  (Ratey/ug/228)”



“…people have an inborn set point for mood, similar to the set point for weight.  The set point is your basic level of happiness or sadness, which is subject to the ups and downs of life but will inevitably return to some kind of base line, even in people (Ratey/ug/226) who experience dramatic changes in their life circumstances.  (Ratey/ug/227)”

I believe this set point can be altered by severe infant abuse during critical growth periods – and the ANS reactions


“The term “EMOTION” is derived from the Latin movere – to move.  It is important to realize that emotion is a movement outward, a way of communicating our most important internal states and needs.  (Ratey/ug/227)”

“The brain mechanisms that evolved to display emotion are the same as for all of our sensory and motor input.  The difference is in the intermediate state of processing information.  (Ratey/ug/227)”

Input from a person’s face that will lead to identification is channeled via different pathways from the information about the emotional expression on the person’s face.  (Ratey/ug/227)”

“The emotional information goes directly to the amygdala and the insula, which then send directions to act to our motor systems in the brain.  So there is a splitting of the information, and you can identify a face and have no emotional confirmation about it and claim that the person is an imposter, which happens in Capgras’s syndrome.  (Ratey/ug/227)”



“”The motor and emotional systems probably evolved concurrently in primates.  Geographically they are right beside each other and intertwined, and whole-body postures that signal aggression or mating in invertebrates evolved into behavior patterns and facial expressions in mammals and primates.  (Ratey/ug/227)”

“The limbic system comprises the amygdala, hippocampus, medial thalamus, nucleus accumbens, and basal forebrain, all of which connect to the anterior cingulate gyrus, which is the major gateway to the frontal cortex.  This system is the launching point of emotions and the emotional connector to the cognitive prefrontal cortex.  Yet all of it is wrapped around the system for movement.  (Ratey/ug/227)”  cc files


“Emotions are played out physically in the body through internal motor activity, such as a more rapid heartbeat, and externally in such (Ratey/ug/227) movements as a smile or a frown or a change in body posture ….  All of the outward behavior that results from emotion is composed of movement.  (Ratey/ug/228)”

“Facial expressions of emotion and other behaviors such as crying and laughing are implemented by other neural circuits in the brain.  These responses are hard-wired into the brain.  They are present or appear soon after birth without any training.  (Ratey/ug/228)”


“The upper cortex and the lower limbic structures are in continuous communication with each other.

There are many more connections from the small emotional limbic center into the large logical and rational cortical centers than the reverse,

which may be the reason that emotions are more dominant in determining behavior and why we sometimes react or speak before we think. (Ratey/ug/228)”

Activation, whether by fear or arousal, causes an outpouring of activity toward the motor cortex to initiate and guide a movement response.  At the same time,

there are messages from the aroused limbic area to other areas of the cortex to evaluate the incoming data.

After a decision is made, guidance is sent from the cortex back to the amygdala to tell it to act, to cool off [brakes are applied], or that it is not advisable to act.  (Ratey/ug/228)”  cc files


cc this to files

“The hypothalamus activates the amygdala, the anterior cingulate, and the brainstem.  Stimulation of the amygdala produces anger, rage, or threatening behavior.  The amygdala uses primitive general categorizations of the limited sensory information that it receives in order to activate an immediate aggressive or defensive motor response.  Certain key characteristics of objects, people, or situations are enough to produce a reaction.  (Ratey/ug/229)”

He mentioned earlier that it also is related to fear.  Why is he not saying that here?  Is he saying fear and aggression are the same thing?  That fighting and fleeing are the same thing?  I am confused here by him!

“The amygdala, in turn, activates the anterior cingulate and the hypothalamus, which then switch on the autonomic nervous system, the motor system, and the endocrine system, which causes body organs to adjust to the demands of the situation.   (Ratey/ug/229)”

“There is an increase in heart rate and stronger hart-muscle contractions, constriction of blood vessels and increased blood pressure, an opening up of airways in the lungs, decreased movement of digestive organs, and increased blood flow to the skeletal muscles.  (Ratey/ug/229)”

Meanwhile, chemical neurotransmitters are sending messages throughout the body and activated hormones are significantly influencing nervous-system reactions and organ systems throughout the body.  (Ratey/ug/229)”

The physiological reactions of the fight-or-flight response are recognized by the individual as fear.  This primitive, hard-wired emotional response prepares us for the strenuous motor efforts required for fighting or running.  It also provides clear evidence of the intimate link between emotion and movement.  (Ratey/ug/229)”




“Traumatic Stress:  The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body and Society”

edited by Bessel A. van der Kolk, Alexander C. McFarlane, Lars Weisaeth

The Guilford Press




Chapter 9

“The complexity of adaptation to trauma:  Self-Regulation, stimulus, discrimination, and characterological development”

by Bessel A. van der Kolk

pp 182 – 213


“Henry Krystal (1978) was the first to suggest that trauma results in a “de-differentiation of affect” – that is, a loss of ability to identify specific emotions to serve as a guide for taking appropriate action.  (van der Kolk/CAT/193)” [refer to notes p. 188]

“He noted that this inability to create semantic constructs to identify somatic states is related to the development of psychosomatic reactions and to aggression against self and others. (van der Kolk/CAT/193)”


“Our recent positron emission tomography (PET) scan study of people with PTSD (Rauch et al., in press) showed that when people with PTSD are exposed to stimuli reminiscent of their trauma, there is an increase in perfusion of the areas in the right hemisphere associated with emotional states and autonomic arousal.  Moreover, there is a simultaneous decrease in oxygen utilization in Broca’s area – the region in the left inferior frontal cortex responsible for generating words to attach to internal experience.  These findings may account for the observation that trauma may lead to “speechless terror,” which in some individuals interferes with the ability to put feelings into words, leaving emotions to be mutely expressed by dysfunction of the body. (van der Kolk/CAT/193)” cc to brain parts file


“Problems in the development of the utilization of words and symbols to identify feelings can start very early.  Cicchetti and colleagues (Cicchetti & Beeghly, 1987; Cicchetti & White 1990) have shown that maltreated toddlers use fewer words to describe how they feel and have more problems with attributing causality than do secure children of the same age.  Secure children spend more time describing physiological states, such as hunger, thirst, and states of consciousness, and speak more often about hegative emotions, such as hate, disgust, and anger.  Not knowing how and what one feels may contribute to the impaired impulse control seen in abused children (Fish-Murray, Koby, & van der Kolk, 1987); [one must also assess if they use fewer words overall in every regard, not just about emotions] having problems putting feelings into words and formulating flexible response strategies may make people likely to act on their feelings.  (van der Kolk/CAT/194)”

Without cortical consultation this would be true – and without language, how do we consult the cortex?

This all relates to Kestenbaum’s article on preschooler empathy

“Anticipating our recent PET scan findings, Cicchetti and White (1990) [get this article] hypothesized that “the special difficulties that abused toddlers have expressing feelings in words may not be simply a reflection of psychological intimidation but rather a manifestation of neuroanatomical and neuro-physiological changes secondary to abusive or neglectful treatment: (p. 369)  (van der Kolk/CAT/194)”



“Prone to action, and deficient in words, these patients can often express their internal states more articulately in physical movements or in pictures than in words.  [Reminds me of “getting the image” as with the power puff experience when doing art therapy.] Utilizing drawings and psychodrama may help them develop a language that is essential for effective communication and for the symbolic transformation that can occur in psychotherapy.  Group psychotherapy may also be effective in providing them both with (inter)action and with borrowed words to express emotional states.  (van der Kolk/CAT/195)”


I remember talking about feelings only one time, after my black rabbit died and we were in the Jeep at the turn where the road dropped to the right below Pollard’s house.  So we were not using that road that went up the hill to the left of their house by then.  But I remember telling Cindy that I was so sad I knew I would never smile again.  It was like something broke in my heart.  I remember her saying, “Sure you will.”

I don’t think mother had much more than a primitive vocabulary for feelings.  She probably used happy, sad, and hate.  I can find out more about that when I read her letters.


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