Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Armchair Psychology: Death By Thought

Death of instinct that is.

I have a theory…that (compulsive) thinkers have no instincts or gut feelings as we call them. I am not talking about impulse here although even that can be broadly included in this category and is pretty much absent with thinkers. But more precisely gut feeling.

 

Before you pounce on me and try and make me an ingredient of that keema paratha you are planning to prepare, let me make it very clear that I am not talking about thinking as a loose term. We are all thinkers…at least I think we are (there! I think too! Who would have known) I am talking about those who are addicted to thinking, who like to over-analyze, over-discuss and over-do anything remotely involving a long chain of thought.

An example: why did my best friend order coffee at breakfast when he is a tea-drinker? Is he trying to tell me I don’t know him well? Should I warn him of possible dangers of drinking coffee instead of tea? What does a change of preferred beverage signify in someone’s life? Are they ready for change now? Does he…umm, you get the ring.

I believe that gut feelings are born in the heart. But in case of thinkers they are then processed in the head and shredded to pieces before they can begin to think of acting upon that gut feeling. Know the feeling when you see a lone mosquito buzzing around and you have this irresistible urge to swat it to death? That.

Over a period of time, this becomes a conditioned response and any gut feelings are killed right there - in the gut - and don’t even make it to the brain. The subconscious displays artificial intelligence and learns repeated behaviour. So the next time feelings start to rise from the gut (I am not talking about the feelings that form in the gut after you’ve eaten too many beans for lunch, no…let’s focus here – gut feelings) the subconscious suppresses them even before they reach the mind for processing. And that explains the absence of gut feelings in compulsive thinkers.

And the very nature of thinkers and ponderers says it all…the whole ‘Look before you leap’, ‘Think before you act’ philosophy prohibits them from considering gut feelings as worth acting upon. Or impulses. They must be thought about. The many layers of meaning understood. The various ramifications considered. The options must be weighed. And by this time if that feeling is still waiting by the door plucking ‘he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not petals off flowers, it must be acted upon.

I am still doing armchair research on how gut feelings can be re-invoked and made to travel all the way to the brain before they are killed in encounter somewhere near the oesophagus.

But going by gut feeling, I think a good start is randomly walking into any store in a mall and picking up 5 objects without batting an eyelid or looking at the price tag (whether or not they need them…that involves thought you see, elementary). Which mall to go to might involve some thought though, and from there it’s a downward spiral as we all know –

What should take priority – proximity or variety? What about parking space? Should I take my two-wheeler or car? Assuming that it takes a total of 22.27 minutes to park the car and take it out, is it an optimized decision? What are the other variables? Is it fair to spread more pollution by using the car? Will part of the money that the retailer gets out of my purchase be used for environmental causes? Is it fair to the others living on this planet? Maybe I should…blah, blah, blah…

7 Thinkers Pondered:

popsie said...

Well expressed! :-)

Anonymous said...

Gut feeling, analyzed thoroughly by a rational mind is the best of both worlds. It is the stuff which gives world new solutions to its current problems. It is the stuff which people call game-changer, innovation.

Being on either extremes is bad. We will end up having analysis-paralysis on one end and maverick thoughts flying haywire on other. Being in between is equally bad, like being there and still not there, actually being nowhere.

Your armchair is rocking, but its not taking you anywhere, you would keep rocking at the same place. Maybe you need some gut feeling analyzed rationally by a thinking mind to take your management further and not rot there rocking at one place.

Keep Walking! :)

P.S.: This anonymous thinker is the one whose P.S. are appreciated more than his comments, and he is not the "choke-the-gut-in-the-rut" thinker, but one who likes working rationally on impulse.

Sathej said...

Thats a thought provoking post..can quite relate to it. Nice analysis too. One remark though..gut feelings (or for that matter any feeling) do not originate anywhere except the brain. The AI argument with the brain functioning as a learner from repeated occurences is right, but the origin of 'gut' feelings could rather more profitably be viewed as being a part of the brain itself. Something like a few neurons are responsible for gut feelings while others prod into the situation. It then becomes a question of competitive selection - as to which group of neurons get triggered more, and that I believe gets 'tuned' by AI maybe.

Have had similar thoughts on this earlier too :)

Having said that since you talk of the gut, there is a wholly different nervous system in one's abdomen, whose functions are highly under-studied (with only their role in referred pain being elucidated). So, just maybe the abdominal neurons may play a part in gut feelings too, who knows :)

Anyway nice post..sorry for such a long rant..was interesting, so couldnt help :)

Sathej

ajay said...

That was a pity gud explanation of How to Stop Thinking of Unnecessary Things and Improve GUT feeling . Nice blog Anupama

Manoj said...

great stuff...
Gut feeling probably is an in born quality. May be it grows by postive outcomes and experiences.I guess the outcomes decide the balance. Compulsive thinkers are mostly perfectionists. The detail lovers.They like to explore and understand the intricate details. If not of that type then probably they are probably insane. It is our ability to govern our mind that defines sanity. If you can't control the balance then you are moving towards insanity. Movement, I mean to either edges. Totally gut based is also insane. Either ways, our ability to sense the difference between the two and make a choise based on the need and situation, makes us intelligent beings. Something different from animals.
My thoughts...
choose... What ever works for you...
Ultimately if you are happy and not frustrated... use more of it... but always control the balance and be alert for warning signals...As long it brings positive results and does not make a soup of your stream of thoughts.
I would say...Some people are more comfortable with the details... They are restless when thrown into uncertainity....
Last words : Explore, create and control the balance
Vedanta tell us that channeling the stream of thoughts is what brings out the best in us.. Apply a method that brings more clarity to your feelings...

Tigerstone said...

Am I the only one who feels you have too much money jingling in your purse? Share it with the poor and needy.

I know of a poor boy who's been planning to buy a new bicycle for a long time. His gut is feeling, if only the purse was willing.

Donations are accepted :)

Anupama said...

Hey Popsie,

Thanks a lot...

Hey Anonymous Commentor,

Analysis-paralysis...catchy...thanks for the comment...

Hey Sathej!

You're free to rant as much as you want...you at least cared to tell me what you thought :) Found the abdominal neurological system idea very interesting! Thanks a lot :)

Hey Ajay,

Thank you so much...

Hey Manoj,

Thanks for the nice add on to the post and that mention of Vedanta :) ...haven't studied it much but would want to, different schools of philosophy...

Hey Tigerstone!

Are you sure its gut feeling and not an upset stomach? The whole cycle idea? Just wondering if Digene cures gut feelings as well as it cures acidity :)