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Related Words, Beliefs, Background for Choice #14

Worldview Theme #202A: Cautious Processing

Worldview Theme #202B: Relaxed, Generous, Loving

alienated–estranged, the opposite of belonging

anger–a strong emotional reaction often accompanied by various observable changes in measurable physiological quantities, body language, facial expressions–and verbally or physically aggressive behavior.  This response follows some triggering stimulus, chain of events, or wide variety of situations–which the person who experiences it or them may think of as "what happened to me": being strongly displeased, inappropriately restrained, treated unfairly, harassed, threatened, attacked or something similarly happening to one's loved ones or personal property.  While some anger may manifest itself immediately, sometimes it can build slowly, simmering before erupting.    

anger, constructive expression of–expressing anger constructively, being objective, blaming or not blaming others as appropriate, but maintaining self control and avoiding furious rages can be a real challenge.  Before such expression, its goal–often to affect behavioral changes in a person, persons, or institution deemed responsible–should be clearly formulated.  If individuals with whom the angry person has an ongoing relationship are involved, good communication and choosing one's words carefully in expressing anger are important.  Use of "I statements," of the form "I feel or felt _____ when you do or did _______ , helps others empathize with you.  The degree to which a person can express anger constructively provides an important measure of emotional maturity.    

assertive coping mechanisms–strategies that psychologically healthy individuals use to constructively deal with anxiety and stress.  They include: 1) changing the environment or situation, 2) changing one's behavior, and 3) when 1) and 2) fail or are impossible, learning to mentally manage the stress and minimize its internal effects.    

attitude–a characteristic evaluative orientation and / or response tendency toward something previously experienced or encountered.  The associated evaluation can be positive (like), negative (dislike), or neutral  (no opinion.)  Beyond this evaluation  –which may or may not be directly communicated–observing the particular response allows more about the underlying attitude to be inferred.  Attitudes form based on inputs from three domains: 1) cognitive (thoughts, beliefs), 2) affective (emotions, feelings), and 3) conative (volition, action tendency or disposition). 

automatism–an act or series of actions performed by a person without conscious thought or reflection that conceivably could be performed by someone or something functioning "on automatic"–like a robot lacking human consciousness programmed and directed by someone else.    

behaviorism–a branch of psychology that restricts itself to considering objective, measurable behavior and modeling it in terms of stimulus and response.  Radical behaviorists steer clear of involving introspection, subjective mental states, conscious volition and free will in their explanations of human behavior. Critics charge that they view human beings as unfeeling automatisms.  Failing to get a boost from more recent experimental findings and computer modeling efforts, many behavior psychologists’ once popular theories have lost favor.      

Benevolent God -- the 2006 Baylor Religion survey identified this as one of "America's Four Gods". God is seen as highly engaged with and involved in individual daily lives.  God is viewed as a force of positive influence and is believed to be less likely to punish or condemn people.  

brotherhood–an idealized situation in which people treat each other in a highly considerate way as if they were members of the same family (brothers or sisters).    

computational theory of the mind–asserts that the mind arises from the activity of the brain: responding to input from sensors, inscribing information into memory, processing information, doing computation / running programs, sending signals initiating action, etc.  Encoding of information / data patterns and employing the logic needed for computation involve the brain’s one trillion or so neurons (each of which may be connected to up to 1000 other such cells).  The brain activates links (synapses) between neurons.  If each activation is equated with executing a digital instruction, the brain can execute about a ten million billion such instructions every second.  This theory connects the mental world of perceptions, beliefs, desires, thinking, feeling, intending to do something, etc. with the brain and thus provides a solution to the mind–body problem.  In emphasizing the role that natural selection played in the mind’s development, it provides insight into why the human mind is what it is and how it got that way

conflict resolution and art education--Recognizing that both resolving conflict and artistic creation often involve coming to terms with certain emotions, many educators teach conflict resolution in conjunction with the arts.  Given that suffering often precedes both deeply felt art and coming to terms with past or ongoing conflict, such courses may attempt to promote healing and help build a peaceful environment.  Related aspects of this include helping build creative thinking abilities, expand perception-taking abilities, promote self expression, promote self reflection, encourage expression of emotions, encourage emotional risk taking through sharing, meet basic human needs, develop respect of self and others, develop empathy, and foster teamwork. (adapted from USA National Endowment for the Arts booklet)

Confucianism–an ethical system / agnostic practical philosophy based on the teachings of the 6th century BCE Chinese sage, Confucious.  Its key teachings include: 1) ultimately the happiness of society rests on sincere investigation that produces relevant knowledge, 2) happy societies are built on a foundation of disciplined individuals in disciplined families, 3) respect for and fidelity to natural obligations, most notably to parents and family, is essential, 4) the right relationship between individuals is important, one based on sympathetic "fellow feeling," treating those subordinate to you as you would like to be treated if you were the subordinate–ideas which provide the basis for a Confucian Golden Rule, and 5) avoiding extremes and embracing moderation–finding a Golden Mean–is important

conscious vs. unconscious behavior–distinguishes between behavior you were aware of and that which happened in such "automatic response to environmental stimuli" fashion that your conscious mind was unaware of it.  This can be related to Freud’s distinction between the conscious and unconscious mind.  If someone asks about what you are thinking or feeling or exactly how you did something, you have access to some information or details and can give them a report.  But much involving bodily processes or mundane routines happens automatically.  Information or details regarding these are unavailable to you–you certainly couldn't provide them in a report!

defense mechanisms--protective psychological coping strategies by which a person maintains that anxiety producing frustrations or conflicts either don't exist or are not important. Rationalization--convincing oneself that a once desired, but unattainable goal is actually undesirable-- is a particularly common one. Unlike the effective assertive coping mechanisms that psychologically healthy individuals use to deal with stress and anxiety, many defense mechanisms happen unconsciously and are less effective--often serving as "stopgaps" in emergencies. Their frequent use signals mental problems. Thus an adult who often fantasizes, regresses or projects (their own unpleasant thoughts / motives onto others) may be emotionally immature; one who often represses unpleasant thoughts or redirects strong feelings to a safer target (displacement) may be neurotic.

dysfunctional family–a family characterized by chronic turmoil, inappropriate behavior, conflict and frequent failure of parents to meet their parental responsibilities in a healthy fashion–resulting in children not knowing what to expect, their needs often going unmet, and, in some cases, being abused (verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually).  Family dysfunction can typically be traced to parental alcoholism / substance abuse, their emotional / mental problems, or inappropriate parenting style (too dogmatic, authoritarian, controlling, distant, etc.).  While the problem behavior originates with parents, children growing up in such unhealthy environments typically develop their own emotional problems, which increasingly affect family dynamics.                                          

emotions–another one of those difficult to define terms.  Here are three definitions: 1) a catch all term for subjectively experienced states dominated by feelings, 2) the affective or feeling aspect of human consciousness, and 3) ancient survival mechanisms to protect us from danger that have evolved to also include (as Steven Pinker puts it) "mechanisms that set the brain’s highest level goals."     

emotions and the brain–stimuli are registered most immediately by the amygdala–part of the brain's limbic system, which is sometimes referred to as our reptilean brain since (in evolutionary terms) it is older than the frontal cortex it is connected to. This "alarm system" part of the brain can instantly prepare the body for a basic fight, flight, or (less dramatic) appeasement response.  A quarter second or so later–if time permits–the cortex can evaluate the alarm it receives, put it in context with other information, and more rationally decide to activate a full blown survival type response, or to put the damper on those preparations.  Conscious emotion thus involves this direct connection between cortex and amydgala, and indirect connection / feedback between these, the hypothalamus–which produces and releases brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) and hormones–and the rest of the body.  Those chemicals can produce physical effects like increasing blood pressure and heart rate.  It is this feedback which fundamentally distinguishes our emotions from our thoughts

empathy–concisely it refers to "fellow feeling" , that is imagining that you are in the other person’s shoes and experiencing his or her feelings, struggles, etc.  Emotionally immature people, in particular those who after experiencing so much pain as children have learned how to block it, may not feel compassion for another's pain.  Empathizing with others thus requires being in touch with your own feelings.    

fear–a strong, primary emotion associated with unpleasant anticipation of danger and pain.                                                               

feedback–information modifies the state of a system, changing it so that future system behavior changes. Learning provides a simple example, where the system involved can be, not just our knowledge but, our entire worldview. Here the most important lessons learned change our behavior the most. Voting in an election is another simple example of a feedback process at work. Feedback also has a place in technical devices: where  information about the state of a hardware system (output) is fed back to the system input to adjust, regulate, or modify its behavior.   Positive feedback reinforces input and can lead to exploding (or imploding) output.  Negative feedback opposes input and can lead to stable behavior.  Both can be present in complex systems.  Technology-based  examples include thermostats in heating / cooling systems, and elevator position / speed controls. Biology based feedback examples include blood sugar regulation in the body, populations of prey / predators in ecosystem, etc.

fellowship–involves people communicating and sharing their lives and concerns with each other–not surprising given that humans are social creatures!  In some settings, such as churches, this companionship can involve mutual respect and perhaps unselfish love.  While the desire of lone individuals to share common interests or participate in activities requiring others fosters much fellowship, according to M.V.C. Jeffreys (in his 1962 classic Personal Values in the Modern World) "the natural and original context for fellowship is the family."    

happiness principle–from moral theory, the principle that seeking happiness for oneself with someone else’s happiness in mind takes moral precedence over seeking happiness that leads to the loss of happiness for someone else

harm avoidance–cautious anticipation of difficulty in certain situations results in people characterized by this to plan carefully, pessimistically worry, be shy, socially inhibited and sometimes avoid strangers.  At times, such people lack energy to cope with situations that produce anxiety, so they passively retreat or hide from them altogether.    

Hobbesian view of human nature–according to 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, human beings were selfish, aggressive, fiercely competitive, highly acquisitive creatures who were incapable of self restraint.  With this dim view of human nature, he felt that the authoritarian state offered the only way to keep human beings from killing each other in constant warfare and destroying civilization.  

human imperfection--To be human is to be: an imperfect creature; unwhole or broken  (original sin?); one who falls short; one who trespasses; one who is rejected by others.   Examples:  1) Jesus' healing around Nazareth was limited by unbelief  (Mark 6)   2)  Mother  Teresa doubts and agonizes over God's existence  3) Einstein's put down of quantum mechanics → his being put down   

 

interpersonal communication effectiveness, humanistic model– according to this model the effective communicator possesses these qualities: 1) openness–besides disclosing his or her thoughts and feelings, this includes taking responsibility for them and reacting honestly to feedback others provide,  2) empathy, 3) supportiveness–includes being tentative rather than certain, and accepting or descriptive rather than judgmental, 4) positiveness –both in one's own attitude but also in providing others with positive reinforcement, and 5) the ability to communicate as an equal and to give others "unconditional positive regard" (as humanistic psychology founder Carl Rogers put it).    

love–one of those difficult to define terms, since its meaning varies between cultures and, within a given culture, there are typically many different types of love.  Here we limit the discussion to the kind of love that exists between people.  Whereas the ancient Greeks had different words for altruistic love (agape), love between siblings or friends (philia), and desirous, sexual love (eros), in English, this single word can refer a range of emotions ranging from compassion to lust.  While dictionaries may have multiple definitions built on degrees of and reasons for attachment or affection, attempts at providing universal, single sentence definitions of love are harder to find.  Here are two: 1) "that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own" (from Robert Heinlein, in Stranger in a Strange Land, and 2) "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth" (from Scott Peck, in The Road Less Traveled).   (see unconditional love

love vs. hate–Collier describes love as having to do "with bringing together into a whole that which belongs together" and hate "with enforcing separation and difference, driving apart [what is] inherently whole."

masochistic personality—refers to a person whose exhibited behavior seems self defeating or self hurtful.  Some have suggested expanding the characterization and recognizing it as a personality disorder.  

meditation–employing techniques to regulate one's attention and produce an inner state of clarity, serenity, and even bliss.  Some meditate to calm one's inner self, using it as a sort of mind / body medicine; others to experience higher states of consciousness (even cosmic consciousness) in a mystical / religious quest.   Some techniques–called concentrative–involve narrowing one's mental focus to a pre-selected object or process such as one's breathing; others–called mindfulness–expand one's inner vision in non-critical way to include a whole background or field without thinking or dwelling on any of it.                                                      

mirror neuron–a neuron which fires both when you initiate an action and when you observe another individual performing the same action.  Thus their sympathetic firing "mirrors" the action of another.  Some neuroscientists believe the roots of empathy can be traced to neural networks in the brain with such mirror properties.

negative thoughts, replacing them with positive ones-- You can work on changing your negative thoughts to positive ones by,  every time you realize you are thinking the negative thought. replacing the negative thought with a positive one  For example: replace “I can’t possibly do that.” with “I can do that if I really try hard”; replace “I have never accomplished anything.” with “I have accomplished many things.”; replace I always make mistakes.” with “I do many things well.”; replace “I am a jerk.” with “I am a great person”; replace “I don't deserve a good life.” with “I deserve to be happy and healthy.”; replace “ I am stupid.” with “I am smart.”

noble savage view of human nature–the belief that people, if they lived in a natural state away from the corrupting influence of social institutions, are fundamentally peaceful, co-operative, and altruistically concerned with each other’s well being–not aggressively greedy, acquisitive, competitive and merely out to advance their own self interest.  This view was popularized by 18th century French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau.     

paranoia–in mild form, it's characterized by excessive or irrational suspiciousness & distrust of others; in more demented, severe psychological disorder form it also involves delusions–of jealousy, of either persecution or grandeur.

philanthropy--has general and specific meanings: the former referring to active efforts to promote good will and the quality of human lives, the latter referring to the giving of money, material goods, time, or energy to a charitable organization in support of specific goals or programs that help others or enrich lives.  As the twenty first century began, Americans both as individuals and as members of organizations  annually made nearly $250 billion  in charitable contributions--over $800 / person / year. By 2018 the figure had reached $428 billion / year. 

positive thinking, the power of–this phrase is the title of a 1952 best-selling book by Christian preacher and author Norman Vincent Peale.  The basic idea behind his book–and behind similar routes to empowerment advocated by various New Age enthusiasts–is that repeating good thoughts brings good things, while continually dwelling on negative thoughts can bring bad things. In short, people create their own reality by their thoughts.  Many, Peale included, consider thoughts to be things.  Some New Agers don't stop there, but connect whatever they are promoting with the mysteries of quantum physics in claiming that all matter is condensed thought.  For others, similar positive thinking / visualization techniques–and belief that God wants you to have abundant wealth–serve as the basis for teaching others how to get rich.  Coupling such "ask, believe, and receive" recipes with the idea that "you can control the world by what you think" methods provides the essence of numerous books about how to obtain wealth and power

primary interpersonal relationship in a family–the relationship between the two principal people in a family–meaning husband and wife in traditional families.  This relationship is maintained for various reasons including love, emotional attachment, sexual gratification, for the sake of children, for convenience, for financial reasons, out of fear, to maintain the status quo, etc.  Based on the attitudes, beliefs, and lifestyles of the principals, primary relationships can 1) be traditional, stress interdependence and two becoming one, 2) be a loving union of two independent people that stresses preserving their individuality), and 3) be a distant relationship held together by convenience in which two people who want mostly separate lives continue to live under the same roof.  Communication patterns in primary relationships can similarly be classed into four types: 1) equality (communication shared equally in all areas), 2) balanced split (equality with each principal having control in certain areas), 3) unbalanced split (similar to 2) but with less balance), and 4) monopoly (one person is seen as "the authority").  

psychotherapy–the treatment (typically by a trained professional therapist) of an individual's mental illness, behavior disorder or other psychological condition typically involving establishment of a trusting, personal relationship between therapist and patient, and employing various techniques.  In this way the therapist can help the patient more realistically see his or her problems and provide insight / instruction that enables better coping with them.    

resentment–a feeling of anger and displeasure due to an insult suffered that is felt to be wrong, mean and unjustified.                      

self concept–the part of one's worldview that includes an organized mental framework of conceptual schemes–each consisting of concepts a person needs to understand himself or herself.  It provides a structure of knowledge upon which explanations of one's behavior can be based along with future behavioral plans and expectations.  This personal conception is a synthesized whole (incorporating physical, mental, and social elements) that includes an appreciative sense of one's unique existence.  It is based on the totality of one's experience and typically incorporates conceiving of self in both passive (as an inner witness to events) and active (as an inner agent or force) ways.

shame–a state of mind characterized by belief that one has acted dishonorably or ridiculously and that other people are also aware of these actions

shame leading to vengeance–if a person has been shamed, had self respect, sense of honor, pride assaulted, or for males, manhood attacked, if the assault has been grave and the wounds deep, then sometimes the only way the person can restore a sense of self esteem and standing in the tribe or community is by seeking vengeance

stress hormone / cortisol—produced in the adrenal glands, it is released during times of stress and low blood sugar / glucose concentrations. Elevated, prolonged level of cortisol can lead to immune system suppression, increased gastric acid secretion, protein breakdown, decrease in bone formation and muscle  wasting. Inside the brain , in conjunction with adrenaline, it can aid storing memories of painful / emotionally charged events—providing a way to avoid them in the future.

stress scale–a scale gauging the relative stress of events occurring in one's life invented in 1967 by psychiatrists looking for a relationship between stress and illness in the medical records of thousands of patients.  The death of a spouse–assigned a stress value of one hundred–defines the top of the scale; getting married is judged half as stressful and rates a fifty; changing schools is assigned a twenty, etc.    

stroking–rather than being indifferent to another, this refers to positively acknowledging the person by complimenting, recognizing, and other verbal or non-verbal communication chosen to make that person feel good

threat–a gesture or action that intimidates, expresses intention of attacking, inflicting harm or injury, or communicates evil intent. 

tao &Taoism–the former is a concept from ancient China that can be thought of as the way of nature and, as related to human behavior, the path of virtuous conduct in accordance with nature; the latter refers to the Chinese mystical philosophy or folk religion built around conformity to the tao.  Founded by Lao-Tzu in the 6th century BCE, Taoism is polytheist / animist / shamanist in a traditional Chinese way.  Ethically it values compassion, moderation, and humility  

transparency—with respect to behavior or information, a term described best metaphorically with observations like you can’t see through a closed door.  It refers to the extent to which something—often individual or group behavior—is visible or hidden, or open or closed to inspection. Examples: 1) a city council wants a more transparent, open government so its meeting is public and it does not go into (closed) executive session. wants its  2) a software developer provides the detailed code to a program he writes in open source fashion so all of the instructions are completely visible

trust–with respect to extending this to another person, it refers to relying on the integrity, character, and ability of that person.  The degree of that trust is in proportion to the belief and faith one has in the honesty, good intentions, and competence of the person to be trusted

trust and distrust--the biochemical basis for --Recent research suggests that the neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin plays an important role in people trusting  (or not trusting) other people (including strangers) and co-operating with them. Oxytocin is released in humans by the pituitary gland during breastfeeding,  childbirth labor, sexual and other activities. Lab studies indicate this chemical and a related hormone are important to prosocial / joining behaviors—especially as related to pair bonding and reproduction. Oxytocin has variously been called “the bonding hormone,” “the love drug,” “the cuddle chemical,” etc. But recent research suggests it also has a dark side. Besides increasing a pair-bonding trust—what can be called “in group favoritism”—it also seems to promote “out group derogation” of those perceived as “other.” As one report put it, Human ethnocentrism—the tendency to view one's group as centrally important and superior to other groups—creates intergroup bias that fuels prejudice, xenophobia, and intergroup violence. Grounded in the idea that ethnocentrism also facilitates within-group trust, cooperation, and coordination, we conjecture that ethnocentrism may be modulated by brain oxytocin…” Other research suggests that those who are untrustworthy, or  have difficulty with social interaction, may have oxytocin receptor dysfunction. 

unconditional love—refers to love and affection that is pure and untainted, has no limits, bounds, conditions and is constant / unchanging.  Examples: 1) the human relationship that most immediately comes to mind is a mother’s love for her new born child; 2) those who believe in a personal God, and equate God with love, might say this is the love God has for all of us.  Note many Christians do not value conceiving of God in this fashion as much as valuing the supposed salvation that accepting God’s love can provide.  This belief—and the accompanying concern that the person may burn in Hell unless they do this—only makes possible their extending  love that is conditional.  A similar “dogmatic belief gets in the way” problem exists for Moslems.

unconscious memory–a term that refers to those acts, events, and feelings that have been repressed.  Such repressed memories, along with wishes and even instincts, are the source of unconscious conflict that Freudian psychoanalysis posited was the key to understanding and treating emotional problems    

 

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