Emotions

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0902.2117)]

Bill Powers (2000.09.01.1850 MDT)

And it's hard for me to
view the spinal reflexes as problem solvers at all: they're just control
systems, as far as I can see. I'm not a big fan of "everything is X" sorts
of ideas.

Except when it comes to control of perceptions?

BG

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0904.0850)]

Bill Powers (2000.09.03.0827 MDT)]

I will be happy to agree that control systems that operate in terms of
symbols, rules, and principles (including reorganization when it works at
those levels) do what we commonly think of a solving problems (the Seven
Bridges of Koenigsburg, the Prisoner's Dilemma, how to feed six guests

with

three hamburgers, and so on).

That is the only point I was making. If you want to answer the question
_why_ an organism is controlling a particular perception, the answer can
often be found by asking what problem the organism is trying to solve. This
is an approach I often find useful.

But at lower levels, few people would call the control processes

problem-solving.

Few people would call behavior the control of perception. I don't see what's
wrong with viewing learning to ride a bicycle as solving a problem, even
though the control loops do not involve systems, rules, and principles.
Watch a baby learning to walk. Is it unreasonable to say she is solving a
series of problems? Perhaps so, but I'll probably go on doing it any way.

BG

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0904.1113)]

Bill Powers (2000.09.04.0820 MDT)

Bruce Gregory (2000.0904.0850)--

>I don't see what's
>wrong with viewing learning to ride a bicycle as solving a problem, even
>though the control loops do not involve systems, rules, and principles.
>Watch a baby learning to walk. Is it unreasonable to say she is solving a
>series of problems? Perhaps so, but I'll probably go on doing it any way.

According to these examples, you're not saying that _control_ is
problem-solving; only that reorganization is problem-solving (learning to
control).

Not quite. I can solve many problems without reorganising. Reorganising
produces the tools we can then deploy to solve other problems. I can solve
the problem of getting to the store by riding my bike because I solved the
problem of how to ride a bike many years ago.

For my own part, I can see that not being able to walk might, in an

adult's

eyes, constitute a "problem" for a baby, and that learning to walk might,
in the same terms, be describable as "solving" the problem. But I doubt
that there's really any special activity called "problem-solving" going on
that isn't the same was what we already call reorganizing.

We disagree, I see. In my experience, we often solve most problems by
calling on solutions we developed in the process of solving earlier
problems. The system had to reorganize to solve the problem of riding a
bike, but it can call on that solution in many circumstances without further
reorganization.

BG

[From Bruce Gregory (2000.0905.1345)]

Bill Powers (2000.09.04.1210 MDT)

So I'm agreeing with you when you say we use
previously-learned methods for
controlling things, but I'm suggesting that a "problem"
exists only when a
given control task is not yet connected to the appropriate
previously-learned control system's reference input, so a new
connection
has to be established. You only have to "solve the problem" once (or
however many times it takes for reorganization to be
complete); after that,
it's automatic.

OK?

As long as you don't think of conflict as a source of problems, O.K.
(Of course it may be that conflict can only be resolved by
reorganization.)

BG

[From Bill Powers (2000.09.01.0704 MDT)]

Richard Kennaway (2000.09.01.0949 BST)--

I don't remember waking up, but I was awake, lying in bed with my eyes
still closed, just daydreaming about this and that. I was aware of lying
in bed and hearing the occasional car go by outside. This was not a
sleeping or dreaming state. There was no experience of any inner "self".
This lasted for I guess around five or ten minutes. Then my wristwatch
alarm went off, and suddenly my "self" came online. Curious experience,
never happened before.

That's what I call the "Observer" state. It's known mainly in retrospect,
because while you're in it you're not commenting or thinking: just
observing. Of course the Observer is not part of what is observed, so it
doesn't seem to be there (that is, among the things you're observing).

I'd venture a guess that when the self came online, that was higher-level
systems waking up. Of course you could observe them, too.

Evidently, what the Observer observes can somehow be represented as
descriptions and perceptions of the sort that are associated with the
hierarchy; for example, your descriptions are given in English. It's as if
the Observer can also manipulate the hierarchy to make it produce things
like descriptions. That implies output as well as input.So maybe this
Observer is, or acts like, a very high level in the hierarchy. But
obviously it doesn't act only through the level just below it.

Best,

Bill P.

[
from Bill Powers (2000.09.01.0818 MDT)]
Bruce Gregory (2000.0901.0952)]

An alternative model is one in which the Observer cannot manipulate the
hierarchy, but simply observes it. In this model, the descriptions
associated with the hierarchy are outputs of the hierarchy.

If the Observer as I conceive it can't have any effects on the hierarchy,
then the so-called Observer is simply another part of the hierarchy -- it
has to have effects on the hierarchy; otherwise, how would anything in the
hierarchy know anything about it?

One way to
think of this is that the hierarchy incorporates a "voice over" that
comments on the actions of the hierarchy. This voice over has no outputs
except verbal ones.

Well, yes, by definition. But it also has to have inputs, in order to
comment on anything in a way that actually has something to do with what is
going on.

The voice over is developed by reorganization to

enable us to use language as an output to control other perceptions.
Beginning meditators discover how little control they exercise over the
voice over. (The voice over is the voice in your head saying, "Voice
over? What the hell is he talking about? I don't have any voice over.")

And the Observer is what knows that the latter thought is just a thought,
which you can think or not think as you please.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (2000.09.01.1850 MDT)]

Bruce Gregory (2000.0901.1132)]

I think of the hierarchy as a mechanism for solving problems. If its a
problem, the hierarchy will try to solve it. The hierarchy solves
problems by controlling perceptions.

If by "solving problems" you mean "correcting errors," I sort of agree. But
higher systems act to correct their own errors, often, by _creating_ errors
in lower systems (changing the reference signals). And it's hard for me to
view the spinal reflexes as problem solvers at all: they're just control
systems, as far as I can see. I'm not a big fan of "everything is X" sorts
of ideas.

Yes, the voice- over has inputs. But it doesn't control those inputs as
far as I can tell. In my experience, the voice-over follows the Observer
around and provides a running commentary on whatever the Observer
observes.

How does the voice-over know what the Observer is observing? Does the
voice-over experience the things it is saying, or does it emit them
blindly, never knowing what it actually said or what effect saying it had?
You may correctly suspect some skepticism here. I think of the voice-over
simply as speaking in the imagination mode.

One
day I got fed up. I remember thinking, "I'm not going to have this
conversation again." And I didn't.

Good example of higher-order control.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (2000.09.03.0827 MDT)]

Bruce Gregory (2000.0902.2117)--

And it's hard for me to
view the spinal reflexes as problem solvers at all: they're just control
systems, as far as I can see. I'm not a big fan of "everything is X" sorts
of ideas.

Except when it comes to control of perceptions?

Fair enough. I'll try to say what I mean more clearly.

I have a basis for saying (to unpack the shorthand statement) that behavior
is the externally visible part of the process by which organisms control
internal representations of internal and external variables. The basis is
the negative feedback control model; this is simply a statement about what
all negative feedback control systems do, given that perceptions are input
signals. The statement is true if organisms are in fact set up as
hierarchies of negative feedback control systems. All systems that control
their perceptions are negative feedback control systems, and all negative
feedback control systems are systems that control their perceptions.

If we define a "problem" as a difference between what we are experiencing
and what we intend or prefer to experience, and "solving" the problem as
reducing the difference until it is much smaller or even zero, then all
problem-solving systems are control systems.

However, it is not true that if all X are Y (all problem-solving systems
are control systems), it follows that all Y are X (all control systems are
problem-solving systems). All normal mice are animals that have four legs
and a tail, but it is not true that all animals that have four legs and a
tail are normal mice, as any dog will attest.

I will be happy to agree that control systems that operate in terms of
symbols, rules, and principles (including reorganization when it works at
those levels) do what we commonly think of a solving problems (the Seven
Bridges of Koenigsburg, the Prisoner's Dilemma, how to feed six guests with
three hamburgers, and so on). But at lower levels, few people would call
the control processes problem-solving.

That's all I was trying to say -- too tersely.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (2000.09.04.0820 MDT)]

Bruce Gregory (2000.0904.0850)--

I don't see what's
wrong with viewing learning to ride a bicycle as solving a problem, even
though the control loops do not involve systems, rules, and principles.
Watch a baby learning to walk. Is it unreasonable to say she is solving a
series of problems? Perhaps so, but I'll probably go on doing it any way.

According to these examples, you're not saying that _control_ is
problem-solving; only that reorganization is problem-solving (learning to
control).

If you look up "problem-solving" in the literature of psychology, I think
you'll find that it refers almost exclusively to cognitive activities such
as reasoning or at least observation and insight. Not that such words have
any formal defined meanings.

For my own part, I can see that not being able to walk might, in an adult's
eyes, constitute a "problem" for a baby, and that learning to walk might,
in the same terms, be describable as "solving" the problem. But I doubt
that there's really any special activity called "problem-solving" going on
that isn't the same was what we already call reorganizing.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Bill Powers (2000.09.04.1210 MDT)]

Bruce Gregory (2000.0904.1113)--

In my experience, we often solve most problems by
calling on solutions we developed in the process of solving earlier
problems. The system had to reorganize to solve the problem of riding a
bike, but it can call on that solution in many circumstances without further
reorganization.

Here's my reasoning. At one time, when you wanted to go to the store, you
had a problem because you didn't know how to get there. You had to do a
little bit of reorganizing to see that since you had a bike and knew how to
ride it, you could go to the store on it. From then on, the
go-to-the-store control system had no more problem; as soon as the
reference signal for going to the store was set, you got out the bike and
went. No learning was necessary.

Of course you can make this as complex as you like, introducing other ways
to get to the store when it's raining or when the bike can't be used, or
when you have something heavy to bring home, and so on. The first time you
run into these complications, there is a problem, but when you've
reorganized to find the solution, that problem no longer exists. When you
set the reference signal, you use an already-learned method to pick the
means of going, and you go.

So I'm agreeing with you when you say we use previously-learned methods for
controlling things, but I'm suggesting that a "problem" exists only when a
given control task is not yet connected to the appropriate
previously-learned control system's reference input, so a new connection
has to be established. You only have to "solve the problem" once (or
however many times it takes for reorganization to be complete); after that,
it's automatic.

OK?

Best,

Bill P.

[ From Bjorn Simonsen (2002.10.28.,12:40)]

from Rick Marken (2002.10.25.2030)

I think what would be most interesting would be to try to think of cases of
emotional experience where the PCT explanation of emotion doesn't seem to

fit.

Or, even better, let's try to think of ways to _test_ the PCT theory of

emotion

experimentally.

I feel like that too.
First I will write how I understand how PCT theory explains emotions. Then
I'll tell about experiments I have done for myself in a modest way. I will
conclude with a hypothesis about anxiety.

I don't see anything particularly about emotions in relation to PCT. I am
controlling my perceptions, that is what life is, sometimes I smile and
sometimes I shed tears, I seldom if ever clench my fist.

[From Bill Powers (2002.10.22.0828 MDT)]

Just what is it that you see as coming OUT of the nervous system? As far as
I know, signals coming out of the nervous system enter muscles, glands, or
the major organ systems, causing forces or secretions, or changing
set-points of biochemical control systems. Unless I'm overlooking
something, that's all -- and I don't think those processes could be called
emotions by themselves. Anyway, we don't experience those outputs, but only
their indirect consequences.

It isn't the smile or the tears that I experience, it is my perceptions
which I control. They are my experiences and my emotions.
I also agree with Bill when he wrote that we cannot experience other peoples
emotions. We can experience our perceptions of other peoples emotions. The
variables describing other peoples emotions are disturbances to our own
control systems.

I often hear people say that men will profit by showing their emotions. But
this is not to the point. Men control their perception (emotions) even if
the output isn't realized as tears. When a man beat up an other human the
same people are displeased because he is realizing his output.
from a PCT fixed place we don't control our actions, we control our
perceptions (of them and disturbances).

Let me do a digression and bring into the subject the concept called Body
Language.
I have often been to work shops where we learn and train to translate body
language. The instructor has the knowledge that a person B often not
understand a verbal articulation of a message in the same way another person
A is purposed to tell him (and tells him). It is maintained that the body
language is unambiguous.
For me PCT indicates that we can't thrust our perceptions of other peoples
actions if we focus on what they control either if we talk about emotions
or body language.
If we really focus on what other people control, we have to use the test.

Bill wrote:

We might guess from those outward appearances that the person is
experiencing some emotion, but we could easily be wrong in identifying it,
or even in saying the person is feeling something unusual. We can
extrapolate from our own experiences: when we do things like that person is
doing, we are usually feeling a certain way, so we could guess that the
other person is feeling that way, too. That's just a guess, of course -- we
can't sense what the person is actually feeling. There are tears of grief,
tears of anger, and tears of joy, not to mention tears of glycerine in a
movie or tears of simulated sorrow on the stage.

You express it better than me Bill.

Then over to experiments. I have done experiments in situations where I
control my perceptions. And I think other on CSG net has done the same.
I am disposed to shed tears when I listen to Tsjakovskei's 1812 overture and
when I look at TV where a father tells about his 14 old daughter who is a
hostage in a Moscow theatre etc. And it is very OK doing that. But it isn't
always convenient to do that. Then I have tried MOL.
When I listen to Tsjakowskei's 1812 overture I think I control
relationships. If we sit around a table familiar and unfamiliar people and
listen to the music it isn't convenient for me to shed tears. If the same of
us look at the father on TV it is neither convenient to shed tears. Then I
move up a level or two. I try to control another category of my experiences.
And it works. It is an experiment and it is in a modest way as I wrote
earlier. I can't imagine how to make corresponding simulation in an
electronic program.

We can discuss the correctness of doing this, but that has nothing to do
with PCT.

Maybe some of you can illustrate an other experiment in a more controlled
way??

I will terminate with some reflection about the emotion called anxiety

[From Bill Williams UMKC 20 September 2002 5:10 AM CST ]

AFter having thought about the control of emotion, it seems to me now that

the

most immediately useful application of control theory to the regulation of
emotion is a recognition that internal conflict is the source of much of

the

unwanted emotions which we experience.

[From Rick Marken (2002.10.23.1400)

I agree. Internal conflict is a problem because it takes away the ability

of

the control systems involved in the conflict to control

Conflict occurs when two or more control systems
try to bring the same (or a similar) perceptual variable to
different references.

[From Bill Powers (2002.10.21.1151 MDT)]

I agree. To want to prevent having emotions is to want to prevent your body
from preparing for whatever actions your higher systems are trying to
produce. The only way to do that is to suppress all desire to do anything
(I think that's called "depression"). Trying to cure oneself of having
"bad" emotions is a mistake; it's trying to fix a side-effect of a very
different problem. The problem is not the emotional feeling, it's the goal
that one has, which is being frustrated for some reason. Commonly, a person
who feels violent anger wants to do physical damage to someone else and is
all prepared to go into action, but holds back because it is illegal to do
so, or because of another goal such as not showing or acting out such
desires, or because the object of anger is much bigger and stronger or has
more resources with which to fight back. The key factor is that the error
remains and no action takes place to correct it, so the physiological
preparation goes unused. That's when we say we are having really strong
emotions. But the only effective way to get rid of the emotion is to change
the desire to attack someone (or whatever the goal was). That requires
changes are basically cognitive. You wouldn't want to do away with your
ability to prepare for strenuous action.

I think Norbert Wiener expressed that not stabilized control system have a
tendency to engage other control systems. Then you may get a conflict.
I also think he described anxiety as a situation where _many_ control
systems controlled the same perceptions. And if a sufficient number control
systems control the same perceptions it is easy to understand that a person
renders passive and has a bad time.
What about MOL in such a situation to get rid of the anxiety? Afterwards
they have to work with changing some of their goals. And that isn't easy.

bjorn

<Even though I think emotions can, to some extent, be controlled I don’t have an

idea how this might be organized. And, If it is possible to control emotions,

it would seem to me to useful to know how to do it.>
[From Kenny Kitzke (2002.10.04.11:20AM.EST)]

<Bill Williams UMKC 4 September 2002 4:00AM CST>

Hi Bill W.

Just some food for thought:

It seems that emotions are real phenomena inside us.

It seems that emotions are like perceived variables which have magnitudes. An example is anger.

It seems that we can establish reference magnitudes for our emotional variables. There seems to be an acceptable amount of anger associated with a vandal purposely throwing a rock through our house window and another amount associated with a child accidentally hitting a baseball through that same window.

It seems that such acceptable amounts of emotional variables are like reference perceptions.

It seems that I can act to move perceived emotional variable amounts toward the reference amounts.

So, it seems that we can act/behave to control our emotions in the same way we can any other perceived variables. This would seem to be helpful but this does not mean our control will be successful.

Now, does PCT or HPCT correctly and effectively model and help us control our emotions? It seems to me it does not. But, what do I know?

For those who claim to know, are our perceived emotions variables we control for, or are they more associated with the errors we experience internally when we can’t control the external variables we perceive as inputs to our internal reference amounts?

Is it clear that the same mechanism that controls PCT defined hierarchal perceptions, controls our emotions or our error signals?

I think it is a different human mechanism. If so, doesn’t it at least partially explain why PCT and HPCT are incomplete theories of human nature and our abilities to achieve a desired purpose for our life?

I also fear (an emotion purposely picked to ponder) that this inadequacy will keep PCT and HPCT from ever being widely accepted by psychologists as means by which people can overcome external or internal (emotional) barriers to becoming the person they would like to be.

Your, and others, perceptions would be most welcome.

BTW, I will be away in a beach home without a phone for about a week. So, I will not be able to read or respond to any replies until the middle of October. Is this a disturbance for me? How would anyone know but me?

[From Kenny Kitzke(2002.10.04.11:50AM.EST)]

<From Shannon Williams (2002.10.03.23:50 CST)>

<‘Emotion’ seems to be one of those ideas that people tend to build a

reference for. People attribute a great importance to emotion, and most

people attribute purpose or usefulness with importance. They cannot

perceive the idea of emotion outside of these associated ideas, therefore I

think that they perceive ‘emotion’ as causing, rather than being a

by-product.>

Shannon:

I think I have a real-life human example. I recently attended a free seminar on leadership. It was headlined and trademarked “A Different Kind of Smart - Applying Emotional Intelligence at Work.”

The theory of the dear lady was supposedly supported by much scientific research in the field of psychology/behavior (some references flashed on the screen).

The theory goes something like this. The right leader creates a “culture” suitable for attaining business goals. A key ingredient in that culture is for the leader to foster the appropriate positive emotions in the employees (like trust and respect and being appreciated).

These positive emotions then drive/cause positive behavior/action which lead to/cause teamwork and in turn cause the achievement of higher performance goals/results. Does this sound like a linear model for how leaders are to behave if they want financial success?

Is it true and helpful? Does it always work? How would PCT approach the goal of improved group results?

The room was packed to overflowing with about 150 eager leaders and HR executives from financially suffering organizations. They seemed to love this message. Everyone wanted a boss who developed a positive culture for people; one they liked working within.

I suspect that many participants looking for better performance results in their organizations will hire her. She provided an impressive list of clients. Others will undoubtedly want to get her to certify them as approved, well compensated, Emotional Intelligence analysts and consultants working for her.

BTW, she acknowledged that while applying “emotional” intelligence was an important part of successful leadership, it was NOT the only part. Some Process/System/Technical know-how intelligence was also necessary.

I took this to be true; for sure. It also seemed to create a convenient excuse for why, even if one applied her Emotional Intelligence methods, but did not achieve/cause any greater results/effect, it would not disprove her theory.

She asked for some audience reaction, or questions, or even challenges. No one responded. I think she hoped for some positive affirmations or exuberant confirmations for her testimony. I finally raised my hand.

I asked her if in high performance organizations, the culture was reliably better than in lower performing organizations? She paused, and then answered, “Yes, almost always.” I then asked her how she knew whether it was the positive emotional culture that was causing the better results or if the outstanding results were causing the better more positive culture?

She suddenly stopped her delightful prancing on the stage. Her smile disappeared and she mumbled, “You would have to do more research to know for sure.” Then, she quickly moved on to her closing and emotional summary accompanied to much applause.

Has anyone else experienced the Emotional Intelligence quotient?

[From Kenny
Kitzke(2002.10.04.11:50AM.EST)]

I think I have a real-life human
example. I recently attended a free seminar on leadership. It was
headlined and trademarked “A Different Kind of Smart - Applying Emotional
Intelligence at Work.”

The theory of the dear lady was supposedly
supported by much scientific research in the field of psychology/behavior
(some references flashed on the screen).

(2002, 10.05.09.06 am PST

Kenneth, I believe your speaker was taking off
from Goelman’s book, “Emotional Intelligence.” It’s had a lot of press
and widespread superficial “applications.”

cheers (that’s my emotional advice),

David Wolsk

···

----- Original Message -----

[From Bill Williams UMKC 20 September 2002 5:10 AM CST ]

[From Kenny Kitzke (2002.10.04.11:20AM.EST)]

<Bill Williams UMKC 4 September 2002 4:00AM CST>

> <Even though I think emotions can, to some extent, be controlled I don't
> have an
> idea how this might be organized. And, If it is possible to control
> emotions,
> it would seem to me to useful to know how to do it.>

Hi Bill W.

Just some food for thought:

Now, does PCT or HPCT correctly and effectively model and help us control our
emotions? It seems to me it does not. But, what do I know?

I think it is a different human mechanism. If so, doesn't it at least
partially explain why PCT and HPCT are incomplete theories of human nature
and our abilities to achieve a desired purpose for our life?

I also fear (an emotion purposely picked to ponder) that this inadequacy will
keep PCT and HPCT from ever being widely accepted by psychologists as means
by which people can overcome external or internal (emotional) barriers to
becoming the person they would like to be.

Your, and others, perceptions would be most welcome.

AFter having thought about the control of emotion, it seems to me now that the
most immeadiately useful application of control theory to the regulation of
emotion is a recognition that internal conflict is the source of much of the
unwanted emotions which we experience. So, potentially at least we can remove
this source of emotional turmoil, by internal reorganization. Such re-
evaluation may not be altogether without costs, but for the most part the
choice of goals isn't a question which is directly dependent upon external
circumstance.

It seems to me that the principle barrier to the adoption of control theory is
primarily a result, not of the defects of control theory, but rather a matter
of people using control theory to advance some agenda other than control
theory. If your primary agenda in life consists of "Look at me." and you make
use of control theory to further this agenda, then when people reject what you
are saying, are they rejecting control theory or are they saying they don't
find the agenda, "Look at me." to be of interest. If as often is the case the
real message is some previous agenda wrapped in control theory, then people who
reject what they see are doing so for good reasons.

cordially yours,

Bill Williams

···

______________________________________________________________________
Do you want a free e-mail for life ? Get it at http://www.email.ro/

[From Kenny Kitzke (2002.10.21)]

<Bill Williams UMKC 20 September 2002 5:10 AM CST>

<Even though I think emotions can, to some extent, be controlled I don’t

have an

idea how this might be organized. And, If it is possible to control

emotions,

it would seem to me to useful to know how to do it.>

Hi Bill W.

Just some food for thought:

Now, does PCT or HPCT correctly and effectively model and help us control our

emotions? It seems to me it does not. But, what do I know?

I think it is a different human mechanism. If so, doesn’t it at least

partially explain why PCT and HPCT are incomplete theories of human nature

and our abilities to achieve a desired purpose for our life?

I also fear (an emotion purposely picked to ponder) that this inadequacy will

keep PCT and HPCT from ever being widely accepted by psychologists as means

by which people can overcome external or internal (emotional) barriers to

becoming the person they would like to be.

Your, and others, perceptions would be most welcome.

<AFter having thought about the control of emotion, it seems to me now that the

most immeadiately useful application of control theory to the regulation of

emotion is a recognition that internal conflict is the source of much of the

unwanted emotions which we experience.>

Emotion seems to be 100% internally experienced. Let’s consider the emotion of fear. I experience unwanted fear when I see a tornado approaching. If I understand your comment, you would see the source of this fear coming from an internal conflict and not from the funnel cloud itself, at least not directly.

I can understand that it is the perception of the tornado, not the funnel cloud itself, that is relevant to us internally and in the PCT model we would describe it as a perceptual signal, p.

I can also understand that we could have a reference signal, r, for not perceiving a tornado approaching us. And, an error signal, e, would be generated upon comparison. I could understand that a name for this error signal could be “fear.”

Now, if so, is this error what you portrayed as an internal conflict? If not, could you expand on just what the internal conflict you had in mind might be? It is not my understanding that error signals are called conflicts in PCT.

<So, potentially at least we can remove this source of emotional turmoil, by internal reorganization.>

Now, I think I could act to reduce or even eliminate this error signal. I could go down in my basement so I can no longer see/perceive the funnel cloud. Would my fear also be simultaneously reduced or eliminated? It would not seem so. Would the internal conflict you propose be changed or reduced by my going in the basement?

You seem to suggest that some internal “reorganization” would remove the source of the fear. Could you give me an example for this emotional experience? Are you using “reorganization” in the PCT sense or in some general sense as implied by your use of “re-evaluation” below?

<Such re-evaluation may not be altogether without costs, but for the most part the

choice of goals isn’t a question which is directly dependent upon external

circumstance.>

It seems that, for the most part, there usually is some perceived external phenomena that is a source/component of most emotions. Though, I can also conceive that emotions can appear when the perception p is just imagined.

For now, I am just trying to understand a plausible explanation from PCT/HPCT for how I experience this emotion, what it really is in the model, and whether I can reduce/control my emotions by the same or a different means which I can use to control my perceptions and reduce error signals?

<It seems to me that the principle barrier to the adoption of control theory is

primarily a result, not of the defects of control theory, but rather a matter

of people using control theory to advance some agenda other than control

theory. If your primary agenda in life consists of “Look at me.” and you make

use of control theory to further this agenda, then when people reject what you

are saying, are they rejecting control theory or are they saying they don’t

find the agenda, “Look at me.” to be of interest. If as often is the case the

real message is some previous agenda wrapped in control theory, then people who

reject what they see are doing so for good reasons.>

Why PCT has such limited acceptance in psychology has been discussed at several conferences and on this forum, including the above idea. I do not think any consensus has ever been reached and for now, I would prefer to focus on emotions.

[From Bryan Thalhammer (2002.10.21.12:45 CDT)

This is in regards to the discussion on emotions. Gotta be brief.

Sadly, I cannot disagree more. We have said that PCT is not about the
control of behavior. Emotions are behavioral outputs of systems that are
experiencing error. They may be at first internal, but we identify them
most when they are observed externally, from our own outputs or someone
else's. Both are disturbances to our perceptions, after all is said and
down. So, PCT is not about the control of emotions, but the perception of
them.

Emotions are certainly NOT unwanted, unless we have a standard or principle
to be calm, "controlled" and "unreactive" in the face of disturbances in
the social environment. What does that represent? A principle for what
constitutes the perception of how we act (?) in the social environment.
So, emotions are NOT what is unwanted, rather, we are controlling a
perception of ourselves in action, let's say, where the reference is a
certain result of our inputs to a discussion, interaction, or other
activity.

I am developing a standard for interaction that is more measured, is
briefer, and more effective. I won't go into the application of that in
this forum, but it is a little project of mine. So, while I can say I am
PLANNING, I am really not. I must have, as the jargon goes, increased my
gain on the outputs from the error from viewing a video of myself in an
interaction, "ewww, I sound/act like that???" Very PCT to say that now I
will vary my behaviors until the error on that perception subsides. I
can't say that I will choose behaviors, but when I am about to act, my
perception for programs or sequences is to be moving down one path than
another…

The most important thing here is that the act of planning may not really be
so much planning as it is the simultaneous reduction of error while similar
behaviors are more consistently output. And even that is not quite it.

I hope that is a contribution.

--Bryan

···

<AFter having thought about the control of emotion, it seems to me now that
the
most immeadiately useful application of control theory to the regulation of
emotion is a recognition that internal conflict is the source of much of the
unwanted emotions which we experience.>

[From Bill Powers (2002.10.21.1151 MDT)]

Bryan Thalhammer (2002.10.21.12:45 CDT) --

>We have said that PCT is not about the

control of behavior. Emotions are behavioral outputs of systems that are
experiencing error.

I think that emotions are perceptions, not outputs. The changes in
physiological state that might result from errors (particularly errors that
can't quickly be corrected) could qualify as outputs, but as far as I know
we never experience anything on its way OUT of the nervous system. All we
perceive are consequences of outputs, in the form of perceptions coming IN.

>So, PCT is not about the control of emotions, but the perception of them.

My proposal is that (negative) emotions _are_ the perceptions, perceptions
of physiological states that result from large and/or protracted errors and
the accompanying preparations for action. Also, the name of the emotion
seems to be attached to the goal involved in the error: if we feel physical
arousal and also know that we want to get away from something, we call the
whole experience, goal plus sensations, "fear." The very same sensations
occurring because we wish strongly to attack someone (and aren't doing it)
we call "anger." The physiological states alone are not experienced as
emotion; it's only when they are coupled with a goal that we use that word.
An athlete exerting efforts to win a race is probably feeling strong
physiological arousal, but the goal is neither to flee nor to attack, nor
is the goal being frustrated, so the feeling is just how it feels to put
out a lot of physical effort -- it's not experienced as an emotion even
though the sensations, the physical feelings, might be identical.

Emotions are certainly NOT unwanted, unless we have a standard or principle
to be calm, "controlled" and "unreactive" in the face of disturbances in
the social environment. What does that represent? A principle for what
constitutes the perception of how we act (?) in the social environment.
So, emotions are NOT what is unwanted, rather, we are controlling a
perception of ourselves in action, let's say, where the reference is a
certain result of our inputs to a discussion, interaction, or other
activity.

I agree. To want to prevent having emotions is to want to prevent your body
from preparing for whatever actions your higher systems are trying to
produce. The only way to do that is to suppress all desire to do anything
(I think that's called "depression"). Trying to cure oneself of having
"bad" emotions is a mistake; it's trying to fix a side-effect of a very
different problem. The problem is not the emotional feeling, it's the goal
that one has, which is being frustrated for some reason. Commonly, a person
who feels violent anger wants to do physical damage to someone else and is
all prepared to go into action, but holds back because it is illegal to do
so, or because of another goal such as not showing or acting out such
desires, or because the object of anger is much bigger and stronger or has
more resources with which to fight back. The key factor is that the error
remains and no action takes place to correct it, so the physiological
preparation goes unused. That's when we say we are having really strong
emotions. But the only effective way to get rid of the emotion is to change
the desire to attack someone (or whatever the goal was). That requires
changes are are basically cognitive. You wouldn't want to do away with your
ability to prepare for strenuous action.

Overall, a nice set of thoughts, Bryan.

Best,

Bill P.

[Bryan Thalhammer (2002.10.21.20:30 CDT)]

Bill Powers (2002.10.21.1151 MDT)

Bryan Thalhammer (2002.10.21.12:45 CDT) --

>We have said that PCT is not about the

control of behavior. Emotions are behavioral outputs of systems that are
experiencing error.

I think that emotions are perceptions, not outputs. The changes in
physiological state that might result from errors (particularly errors that
can't quickly be corrected) could qualify as outputs, but as far as I know
we never experience anything on its way OUT of the nervous system. All we
perceive are consequences of outputs, in the form of perceptions coming IN.

Bill,

Thanks, I agree. Yet, the experience of the emotion is almost simultaneous
with or after its way OUT of the nervous system. As I understand, the
control cycle should be thought of as almost simultaneous inputs,
comparison, outputs and disturbances. So when I state that Emotions are
behavioral outputs, I mean *experience* them just *after* they are OUT of
the nervous system, but we probably *think we experience* it the same time
as the outputs are emitted.

The very same sensations occurring because we wish strongly to attack someone
(and aren't doing it) we call "anger."

Wouldn't you say that we label as "emotions" the certain behavioral "fizz"
or excess features such as when we observe a person swinging their arms in
a rage, typing more lines than are necessary to clarify a point, or
babboon-like staring down an opponent? Those are observed behaviors, yet
we see emotions going on there. However, we experience something else
"internally" and call that emotion, too. In both cases, the phenomena are
experienced after they first start coming OUT of the nervous system. There
may be follow up nervous system interaction, but we perceive it afterwards,
yes, as more is on the way OUT.

That being said, what do we experience when we have "high emotion?" As you
noted, " the error remains and no action takes place to correct it, so the
physiological preparation goes unused." In "negative" emotions such as
fear, anger, and anxiety, we feel greatly because of increasing error.
Blood pressure get higher, heart beats, and we might clench our teeth and
flex our fists.

The same intensity (used here in a social context) is there when we feel
amorous, have aesthetic pleasure, or just after having a "flow" experience.
These are general "positive" emotions, so where would be the error: Is it
that we can't reduce whatever error between "feelin' great" and "wanna feel
still better?" The perceptual signals and so on should be exactly the same,
but for different control systems.

Trying to cure oneself of having "bad" emotions is a mistake; it's trying to
fix a side-effect of a very different problem.

My point in posting was to ensure that PCT didn't get bent (again!) into a
behavior-control concept. Even though it's in the language, there seems
still a very ingrained notion in business, education, and religion in
thinking that certain behaviors (perceptions) are bad, but others are
OK--so long as they are on the "approved list." PCT doesn't describe this
pycho-social distinction--it just predicts what may happen internally when
control outputs are accompanied by some kind of internal phenomena we call
"emotions."

Thanks,

--Bryan

[From Bill Powers (2002.10.22.0828 MDT)]

Bryan Thalhammer (2002.10.21.20:30 CDT)]

> ... the experience of the emotion is almost simultaneous

with or after its way OUT of the nervous system. As I understand, the
control cycle should be thought of as almost simultaneous inputs,
comparison, outputs and disturbances. So when I state that Emotions are
behavioral outputs, I mean *experience* them just *after* they are OUT of
the nervous system, but we probably *think we experience* it the same time
as the outputs are emitted.

Just what is it that you see as coming OUT of the nervous system? As far as
I know, signals coming out of the nervous system enter muscles, glands, or
the major organ systems, causing forces or secretions, or changing
set-points of biochemical control systems. Unless I'm overlooking
something, that's all -- and I don't think those processes could be called
emotions by themselves. Anyway, we don't experience those outputs, but only
their indirect consequences.

<Wouldn't you say that we label as "emotions" the certain behavioral "fizz"

or excess features such as when we observe a person swinging their arms in
a rage, typing more lines than are necessary to clarify a point, or
babboon-like staring down an opponent?

We might guess from those outward appearances that the person is
experiencing some emotion, but we could easily be wrong in identifying it,
or even in saying the person is feeling something unusual.We can
extrapolate from our own experiences: when we do things like that person is
doing, we are usually feeling a certain way, so we could guess that the
other person is feeling that way, too. That's just a guess, of course -- we
can't sense what the person is actually feeling. There are tears of grief,
tears of anger, and tears of joy, not to mention tears of glycerine in a
movie or tears of simulated sorrow on the stage.

Those are observed behaviors, yet we see emotions going on there.

Do we? Or do we infer emotions there, interpret what we see as symptoms of
emotions? Is emotion really a substance, a thing that we can see?

However, we experience something else
"internally" and call that emotion, too. In both cases, the phenomena are
experienced after they first start coming OUT of the nervous system. There
may be follow up nervous system interaction, but we perceive it afterwards,
yes, as more is on the way OUT.

Again, I ask you to say just what it is that is supposedly coming OUT of
the nervous system when we "emote". Remember, people also thought for
millenia that seeing involved sight-rays coming OUT of the eyes; hence the
transitive verb "to look at" (in many languages). But no matter how many
people understood seeing that way, they were wrong, just as wrong as they
were when they saw ships falling off the edge of the world.

I understand that it _seems_ as if we can see (and even feel) other
peeople's emotions; I can remember thinking about emotions that way myself.
I can remember blaming girl-friends for causing my emotions, too -- look
how sad you're making me. But such interpretations no longer make sense to
me. My emotions are states of my own internal systems, together with the
goals that are associated with them: feelings plus cognitions, all inside
me. No emotion going out, nothing coming in from outside but ordinary
perceptions.

Bad emotions are easier to understand than good ones, but the only
difficulty with the good ones is in identifying the actual physical state
(or perhaps change of state) that goes with the "good" feeling. Many people
say they enjoy going on a roller coaster or being scared in a House of
Horrors, yet what they're feeling, sensation-wise, is probabably
indistinguishable from terror or anger.A pounding heart, a sensation of
vasoconstriction, and panting probably go with as many positive emotions
(if strong enough) as negative ones.Some people count the diminution of a
bad sensation as a good feeling. The childhood joke: Why are you hitting
yourself on the head with that hammer? Because it feels so good when I
stop. The physiological sensations can be identical across many different
emotions both bad and good. What makes the difference, I claim, is the
perception being controlled (generally something totally different from the
sensations of emotion, such as a perception of being insulted), the
reference level for it, and the amount and duration of error that exists.

You're by no means the only person who sees emotions as something we put
out into the world, or that we sense coming in from other people, or that
are caused by external events. I submit, however, that this is a
misinterpretation. I say that emotions are what we perceive of our own
internal states, and nothing else.

Best,

Bill P.