RE: Emotive Education

Crosby_M (
Fri, 14 Mar 1997 17:36:57 -0500

On Thursday, March 13, 1997 12:06 PM, Kathryn Aegis cited Gregory
Houston's quote from the Rational Emotive Based Training (REBT)
<3. "REBT is based on the assumption that what we label our
"emotional" reactions are largely caused by our conscious and
unconscious evaluations, interpretations, and philosophies.">

Then she asked:
<Is this definition in keeping with the new neurobiological
discoveries of hard-wired emotional systems (recently discussed on
this list)? I'm all for learning to control these systems more
effectively, but I sense an underlying assumption here that they don't
even exist.>

I sense that too, or at least the idea that if they do exist we can
learn to consciously control them.

For example, in Re: SOCIO: Friends, on Saturday, March 08, 1997 6:23
AM, Gregory wrote:
<What is better, the psychiatrist that "cures" a persons depression by
giving them a drug, or the psychologist who cures a persons depression
by teaching them to think in a new way and thus to change their CNS
chemical content directly themselves.>

And David Musick more recently claimed:
<I'd just find a way to manufacture the same kind of chemicals the
plants do in my own body; the body can make all kinds of chemicals,
especially the brain... make your own dope, right inside your own
body, custom-made, just how you want it! What a deal!) >

It seems to me that we start off with these "hard-wired emotional
systems" that roil our lives in many ways under various circumstances
and, lacking the time or insight to analyze the responses at the time,
particularly as children, the emotions become subconsciously
associated with certain circumstances, and eventually build up into
neurotic reflexes, reinforced by cultural taboos and stereotypes.
Even if we can learn to free ourselves from these associations by
self-evaluation, that still doesn't free us from the underlying
reflexes, things like "fight or flight" reactions, or sudden anger if
we find ourselves in untenable positions.

While yogis and others have supposedly demonstrated amazing feats of
physiological self-control, and biofeedback can be useful for things
like controling blood pressure and pulse, we're still along way from
even understanding all the hormonal and neurotransmitter interactions
that go on in our bodies and brains, let alone being able to control
all of these via our rational faculties and select our feelings as if
from a menu.

Yes, it's important to abolish neurotic _ideas_ and understand the
bases of our subconscious imagery, but that alone won't provide
control over the underlying, hardwired emotional mechanisms. I
suspect that, in many cases, it is a genetic chemical imbalance that
creates depression rather than some kind of 'improper' way of thinking
that can be corrected through self re-evaluation.

We need BOTH a curriculum for rational thinking AND chemical
'switches' or 'enhancers' when there's either a genetic imbalance in
our neurochemistry, or a set of undesirable neurochemical interactions
that are too tangled to be resolved by biofeedback. As long as we
still live in a world of material scarcity, most people simply won't
have the time to practice the type of disciplines that David and
Gregory espouse.

Mark Crosby