Wednesday, April 6, 2011

316: The Brain and Rage

If you had the choice to get rid of one specific emotion from the collection that cheers up our human lives, I guess that anger would be one of the first candidates.

Like grief we regard it as a negative feeling, but some of you were surprised to hear me talk about grief as a positive feeling. You won't believe it, but also anger can be regarded as a positive feeling.

But here is the catch: in your personal experience you'll certainly find grief and anger emotions you prefer to avoid, but here WE look at emotions from an evolutionary point of view.

And then is not the main question "How does it feel?" but "Has the emotion an evolutionary advantage?" And then we can say that rage is not always destructive. It can be very constructive…

Rage is not synonymous with aggression. Aggression is an act, while rage is an emotion, a drive. A lot of rage is without aggression. Rage can even prevent aggression.

We have rage in all colors and flavors: from a mild annoyance to a true furiosity. But all have one thing in common. Rage generates energy. It gives us the power to overcome an obstacle.

That is the main function of rage: it focuses our energy on the realization of a goal that apparently is blocked by some one or something.

It may be a bit mean, but you already can test it on a baby. A baby wants to move its arms and legs freely in all directions. When you block an arm from moving in any direction the little one will frantically try to move his arm and protest furiously.

This could be seen as the quintessence of the emotion: the fact that we are frustrated in achieving some goal. The intensity of the rage is often determined by the degree of frustration we experience.

It makes a difference whether someone deliberately works against us, or if someone accidentally does that, or when an inanimate object blocks the achieving of our goal.

This makes me think of typical movie psychology… or does this count only for American movie psychology? Rage is not a simple emotion. There is a connection between rage and grief.

Most of the time, not always, is our reaction on a failure or loss caused by the cause of it. If it is a person, who deliberately got in our way, rage may turn into aggression and make us beat up our hindrance.

If it is a person, who is unaware of the fact that he got in our way….. well we may show an angry face but then swallow our anger and move on.

If it is your dog or an inanimate object we may feel disappointment and subsequently grief. But then it begins….. You say to the dog "STUPID DOG!!!" and things like that.

And here comes the movie psychology: he is pursuing the serial killer…almost gets him..then his car breaks down….geez..was just a matter of seconds….

He gets out of his car and starts yelling at it. Then he starts kicking it. He smashes the windows and so on. Rage, that leads to aggression, even against an inanimate object.

It is a cute reference to our prehistorical ancestors. They thought that the animals, trees and rocks had a soul. It even is present in our own psychological development.

Jean Piaget (9 August 1896 – 16 September 1980), a Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children, called it the animism in the magical thinking in the age of 2 to 7: the belief that your doll really feels pain…. And movie directors love to display such atavistic or childlike behavior.

Rage and grief can also be closely related , when a man is rejected by a woman of whom he expected or hoped that she would say YES to him.

He leaves her house, feeling sad, but gradually his sadness turns into anger and rage (She has some one else !!!) and he could turn around and his rage could turn into aggression…..

A lot of interpersonal violence is caused by failed love affairs, most of the time committed by men against women.

Why must running into an obstacle to achieve our goal be accompanied by an emotion we don't like at all: rage? Why did it survive evolution? I'll answer this question in the next lecture.

The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you...^_^
[13:24] herman Bergson: Feel free to come up with remarks or questions..floor is yours
[13:24] Doodus Moose: if i experience something more like frustration...
[13:24] Usher Piers: thanks :)
[13:24] Doodus Moose: i find myself doing something that needed to be done for a long time
[13:24] Doodus Moose: installing a door, for instance
[13:24] herman Bergson smiles
[13:25] Mick Nerido: If our ancestors didn't feel rage and overcome obstacles we would not be here now
[13:25] herman Bergson: Very true Mick
[13:25] herman Bergson: But that is with all emotions....they offered an evolutionary advantage to the species
[13:26] herman Bergson: The thing i s only that we still have these basic emotions while our environment has changed so much
[13:26] Mick Nerido: Sublimated rage is very powerful energy
[13:27] herman Bergson: Oh yes Mick..we'll get to that next lecture!
[13:27] Doodus Moose: a stress counselor once said "if you can't control your boss at work, clean up your office"
[13:27] herman Bergson: may be a good advise Doodus..but how does it relate to rage?
[13:28] Doodus Moose: sort of like holding the baby's arm - you can't control something ?
[13:28] Mick Nerido: If I get angry and can't change the situation I go to the gym :)
[13:29] herman Bergson: well I guess it is all about the feeling of control in such moments...
[13:29] herman Bergson: If you can't control your boss...
[13:29] herman Bergson: cleaning uo your desk is a show of control...for yourself...
[13:29] Doodus Moose:
[13:29] Mick Nerido: Passive agressive
[13:30] herman Bergson: Going to the gym…control of you body!
[13:30] Doodus Moose: ...also stress release!
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: it makes sense to feel more energy when an obstacle is in the way - otherwise you have no chance to overcome it...
[13:30] Siggi Ludwig (ludwig.john): rage normally is not good for peaceful living together
[13:30] Mick Nerido: Yes I am in better shape so an survival advantage
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: yes when u really want something but it struggles
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: like now for i want my inventory to come back again
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes ciska's remark is quitessential...
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: and i hope it does for sure
[13:31] herman Bergson: and what siggi says too!
[13:31] herman Bergson: We'll get to that in the next lecture...
[13:32] Mick Nerido: Rage is an outgoing emotion grief is inward
[13:32] herman Bergson: Why didn't we discard of rage as an emotion in evolution?
[13:32] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): what is the diffrence between rage and anger?
[13:33] herman Bergson: anger is just the feeling of the moment Beertje...
[13:33] Ciska Riverstone: we did not discard it but didn't the acceptance change quiet a lot ? the cultural one?
[13:33] herman Bergson: when you are in rage you are angry, so to speak..
[13:33] herman Bergson: when you are in grief you feel sad....
[13:34] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you
[13:34] herman Bergson: the difference between emotion and feeling...
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:34] Mick Nerido: You look sexy when you are angry is an expression
[13:34] herman Bergson: the emotion is like the conductor of an orchestra...he sets all kinds of instruments in motion...
[13:34] Doodus Moose:
[13:35] Bilthor Esharham: ㋡
[13:35] Bilthor Esharham: ㋡
[13:35] herman Bergson: a feeling is just a mood
[13:35] Zinzi Serevi: sometimes i think a man can more easy feel rage then grief
[13:36] herman Bergson: hmmmm...Zinzi.....I don tknow....
[13:36] herman Bergson: I call rage a secondary emotion....
[13:37] Zinzi Serevi: well when you feel rage you can do something
[13:37] Zinzi Serevi: if you feel grief its more difficult
[13:37] herman Bergson: we'll get to that later but I mean ..underneath the rage is an other emotion...covered up by the rage
[13:37] Zinzi Serevi: yes
[13:37] herman Bergson: so grief and rage aren't equivalent...
[13:38] herman Bergson: rage is a complex emotion...
[13:38] herman Bergson: a mix so to speak
[13:38] Doodus Moose: perhaps someday we can discuss those things that "control" our emotions, (ie: prevent our rage from making us do something stupid)
[13:38] Doodus Moose: (self control)
[13:39] herman Bergson: But we do that a lot of times Doodus..
[13:39] herman Bergson: You read an article in your get really angry about it....
[13:39] herman Bergson: and then....?
[13:40] herman Bergson: you put your anger/rage in your pocket and move on..
[13:40] Siggi Ludwig (ludwig.john): rage often keeps people away from thinking rationally
[13:40] herman Bergson: or join the action committee related to it for instance
[13:40] Mick Nerido: You write a letter to the paper
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes Siggi
[13:41] herman Bergson: and you know what happens when you see a video of yourself in rage???
[13:41] herman Bergson: You feel embarrassed to see you act so irrationally
[13:42] Doodus Moose: hilarious
[13:42] herman Bergson: yes indeed Doodus
[13:42] herman Bergson: good for a laugh indeed
[13:42] Bilthor Esharham: *** HOHOHO THAT IS A GOOD ONE !!! ***
[13:42] herman Bergson: Well I am glad nobody got in rage here today...^_^
[13:43] herman Bergson: so thank you for this nice discussion...:-)
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: was interesting
[13:43] herman Bergson: Class dismissed..
[13:43] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): maybe next time we will Herman :))
[13:43] herman Bergson: See you next Thursday
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: oki now i must try dfix my invent
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: cu later soon
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: Thank You Professor - interesting as always :)
[13:43] Zinzi Serevi: thank you Herman, see you all later..:)
[13:43] herman Bergson: Thank you ciska
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: fingers crossed for it Bejiita
[13:43] Siggi Ludwig (ludwig.john): thank you an good night
[13:44] Mick Nerido: Thanks see you next class
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: hope it works
[13:44] Doodus Moose: thanks all, this was really enjoyable :)
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: good day/night all :)
[13:44] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you was very interesting:)
[13:44] Bilthor Esharham: Very thanks ....and good night for all.
[13:44] Bilthor Esharham: bye
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: bye folks
[13:44] Bilthor Esharham: Namaarie
[13:44] herman Bergson: Bye Bilthor

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