Cognitive Pearl #006 Kislev 10, 5775 December 2, 14

As a child I loved to throw rocks into a natural pond near our home. I enjoyed the ‘plunk’ that the rocks made as they hit the water and the geyser of water that shot up or the circles that emanated out from where the stone hit the water. I recall doing all sort of experiments.

Today my curiosity has expanded. Pools of water still interest me but other types of stimulation and response preoccupy me. A stimulation in consciousness for example. A car passes by me. I respond immediately. My nervous systems collect, sort, process, and act. Of course, this process repeats itself over and over so as to filter out errors and to make sure that each step of the process is accurate.

These inner processes however also generate their own triggering effect. My nervous systems react to their own processes. It is only through evolutionary adaptation that we’ve developed the capacity to stop this cognitive echo from going around and around and around.

Still, however, vestiges of this loop remain. One example of these vestiges are secondary emotions. The emotional experience is not only one emotion; it involves a chorus of emotions. Shame for instance is often accompanied by anger or by introversion or by avoidance or by sadness. Or in the case of anxiety, anger or exhaustion or aggression often accompany it.

Due to the drama of the primary emotion, these secondary emotions are often overlooked. But we should realize that these secondary emotions can make a great splash.