Stress, etc

CyberLegend aka Jure Sah jure.sah at guest.arnes.si
Fri Mar 22 06:16:24 EST 2002

mat wrote:
> Why are you so sure that all instinct is conscious and that we have
> any power over it at all?

I am not talking about a direct connection, but about an effect.
'Removing' an instinct does in fact result in loss of thinking capacity.
Atho instincts are generally something we cannot control, it is
obviously possible to ignore, for example, the instinct to bite one's

>  Surely instincts as genetically embedded
> behaviour would just happen and we wouldn't feel of them as abnormal
> or normal, just the way we are.  Walking on two legs is instinctive,
> you don't consciously decide to do it every time and you don't try and
> counter it.  It just is.

Atho, you're trying to mix lower-level instincts (direct muscle control)
with higher-level ones (require to have something in some way), it is
still true that the instinct to walk on two legs is in fact consciously
controllable and not exactly "just is". There are even different types
of it (ranging from best stability, to best speed) and the different
types are only consciously selectable, tho there always is a 'default'.

>  If you could ask an animal why it behaved in
> an instinctful manner it would not reply 'becuase that is my instinct'
> it wouldn't understand what you were asking becuase it wouldn't be
> able to see any other way of behaving.

Partly true, partly false, partly misunderstood. The only instincts that
can go consciously un-noticed are the very low-level ones and even those
have the potential of being noticed. 

If you look at the aspect of ear-moving; there is an instinct for that
too, humans have it as well, but the use of it needs to be consciously
learned, which is why animals obtain control over it only later in
development (be it a little obvious however, that most humans do not
receive the instinctive impulse to learn how to move their ears during

Of course it is true, that when an individual is obeying his instinct,
he/she/it doesn't really have a reason in mind other than the fact that
he wouldn't be doing anything else at that particular moment. That is,
unless he/she/it is aware of the fact that that action feels the most
appropriate for the moment because of his/her/it's instinct.

>  Most instincts aren't things you do, they are 'you'.

So true. Then just tell me why can't you write that down in an official
scientific statement, so that the people around me stop torturing me?

>  Taking hold of instincts requires you to be
> totally self-conscious and able to see what you do for what it really
> is.  While humans undoubtedly have this ability of self-consciousness
> to a greater extent than any other animal, I'm not convinced we are
> completely self-aware.

I think you might have misunderstood the mater a little, atho I am
otherwise suprized of the level of understanding you show. The brain
does not necessarily contain only one conscious "self", there are a few
others, but they have other tasks, such as monitoring instinct,
supporting general behavior and handling motoric coordination. This has
been described in scientific papers, as I remember, as the Limbic and
R-brain systems "hijacking" the neocortex's upper functions.

This is nicely observable with abused individuals, who's inter-brain
connections suffer highly (from instinct denial) and form various
separate personalities all over the neocortex that flip into control and
out at times and have diffirent access to various instincts.

> Anyway, I personally don't see that getting rid of my 'instinctive'
> fear of heights or oncoming cars would be at all a good idea.

Good for you. And lucky you that others didn't force you to deny your


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