IN AN AGE when man can fling himself a million miles in four days, or wipe out a race with the push of a button, he still understands his own make-up scarcely better than the ancient Greeks understood theirs. So suspect do we hold our inner drives, in fact, that to be called “emotional” is to be insulted. Yet emotion is at the root of everything we do. It is what makes a man curse, a woman smile, a child weep. It is what drives us to war, to love and — today — to the pill bottle. What is emotion? What are these passions that rule us? And do they have to rule us, or by knowing ourselves can we rule them?
As scientists send more rats into mazes and more questionnaires into nurseries, some new facts and many new theories about emotions
are emerging. These facts and theories may some day explain to us what really makes us what we are. But for now many of them are stated only in scientific jargon that may be concealing the truth and may merely be camouflaging new fancies.
With this issue, Maclean’s begins a specially commissioned exploration of these facts and theories — of all we know and guess about the emotions — by the noted Canadian writer June Callwood. These articles tell what science has done to help “package the mist” of the emotions. They explain, too, why “every scientist who steps back from his workbench longenough to get a good view discovers that man is much more wonderful than he suspected.” Part one opens on the next pages.
WHAT WE KNOW-AND WHAT WE DON’T KNOW YET-ABOUT THE BIGGEST PUZZLE OF ALL: OURSELVES
THE HUMAN INFANT, the most unknowing of all vertebrate babies, lies in a vagueness ot shapes, shades and meaningless sounds. He is aware only of being uncomfortable and then of inexplicable comfort, a mysterious alternation which is the foundation of the sense ot magic so acute in small children.
Gradually repetitions in his opaque existence print a thought in his conscious mind: his crying somehow provokes the more comfortable state. His subsequent purposeful crying marks the birth of reason. But there is little satisfaction in it for him. Instead the infant realizes that he must be a totally dependent and helpless creature, the horror of which gives rise to his first and most abiding tear and his first anger. His first object of love, the mother who feeds him. is also his first object of hate, since she also terminates the feeding or withholds it.
Humans unfold into emotional maturity by a dazzling prdeess of branching that no man understands. The history of man has been laced with speculation without developing a single incontestable theory about the origin of the emotions. This century, awed as no other by emotion's power to destroy life and sanity, brims with belligerent investigation by scientists so specialized that they are isolating themselves in foxholes of lingo.
If man could understand the black passions that sometimes make him a maddened fool, perhaps he would have a chance to control them. The pursuit of happiness has become, in this age of ulcers and genocide, the pursuit of emotional health. It's a quest that finds the twentieth-century man. that genius with the rockets, atom-smasher and pink deepfreeze, as baffled as the sweaty group in robes who assumed wise expressions when Socrates advised them to know themselves.
Some psychologists think we are closer to living compatibly with our emotions than ever before, thanks to the current personality preoccupation that leads mothers to call a child's fist fight “sibling rivalry" and athletes to analyse their death wish. Other psychologists suspect that so much introspection is antiliving. The sciences of human behavior are the most uncertain on the face of the earth. The brain has been ransacked for its secret, a million rats have fled through mazes to illustrate the compulsiveness of drive, and the questionnaire has invaded nurseries, but no one yet knows how a man remembers his name, or why he laughs, or what will be his mood in a minute.
The search often focuses on the behavior of infants. Harvard's William James first noted
that a baby's world was probably a “big. booming. buzzing confusion" and that awareness ot the universe must develop from the primary discomforts of hunger and cold. Babies are slower than puppies, anthropologists explain, because humans are still in a fetal stage long after their birth. They leave the uterus before they are able to learn because the female pelvis can't deliver a more mature, and therefore larger, brain.
It has been a long time since psychologists believed that human babies come into the world already equipped with a satchel of elementary emotions. A fiery Johns Hopkins University professor. John B. Watson, was declaring vigorously in the 1920‘s that babies are born with three emotions, fear, anger and love. He deduced fear by their reaction to being dropped a short distance, anger by their behavior when he confined their limbs and love by their passivity when stroked. Other experiments rapidly revealed that newborn babies are too dazed to care what a psychologist does to them and that later on (a) experts can't identify the emotion in a baby's wail unless they know what started it and (b) some babies are indifferent to being dropped or confined but grow crotchety when stroked.
GAPS IN THE BRAIN
The emotional pattern of a lifetime is established before a man learns to read. Some of it is constitutional: day-old babies have tones of tension that vary from sluggish to jumpy. A physiologist’s view is that these differences are inherent. V. H. Mottram describes the brain as full of spongcous gaps which messages of good news or the necessity for a decision must leap in order to get to the control centre. These gaps aren't constant, even within the individual: they can be crossed more easily than usual, for instance, when the message is a familiar one or when the subject is under the influence of a drug such as caffeine and are less accessible when the person is tired or has been drinking alcohol. “In some people,” declares Dr. Mottram. “the resistance (in these gaps) is permanently high and in others permanently low.”
Psychologists won t concede that a man's heightened emotions at the sight of spring's first robin are a direct reflection of the width of his brain gaps. Many scientists are pure environmentalists, who explain the difference in the temperaments of newborn babies as a consequence of the tension the mother experiences during her pregnancy. Her chemical alterations during
CONTINUED ON PAGE 50
continued front page 17
At birth: comfort, discomfort Six months: fear, rage, disgust One year: humor, joy and love
profound fear, anxiety or long-term hatred during the early prenatal period have been shown to produce irritable, taut, colicky babies. This fact was particularly noticeable during the blitz in England.
Most psychologists have come to agree that a baby begins his life in a state of excitement, the pitch determined by nature, prenatal nurture or (most likely) both. Almost immediately his emotions begin with distress at discomfort and delight at comfort. By six months he has the ugly additions, anger, disgust and fear. When he is a year old. the process of civilizing has given him an embryo sense of humor, moments of joy and the beginning of love. As he learns to separate the people he loves, distinguishing adults from brothers and sisters, he promptly learns jealousy. He then begins to he demanding and assertive.
In his second year he fluctuates from aggression, destructiveness and envy to sorrow, remorse and contemplation. The emotions of introspection, inadequacy, shame, self-confidence, anxiety, pride and admiration, emerge early in the third year, followed by notions of individuality which bear stubbornness, contrariness and temper tantrums. By the age of five he has experienced the whole galaxy of emotions, but fear, anger and envy are the most ready. As he grows older, he learns to conceal them. He never can cast them out.
The greatest periods of emotionality occur during an individual's late teens and early twenties, a time in his life when he doesn't much resemble his future personality. Researchers are making the odd discovery that character change in adolescence is so marked and transitory that adults have more in common with themselves at four than at twenty. There is another rise of emotionality in the early forties, a steep rise between the ages of fifty and sixty and then calm until a slight flurry at the onset of extreme age. The emotions of the elderly are weighted with distress — grief, selfpity, guilt feelings, irritability, boredom, worry. On the beneficial side are mystical ecstacy, possessive satisfaction, benevolence, gustatory sensuousness. These feelings decline simply into depression or content, ending with apathy and passivity, the opposite pole of the newborn’s excitement.
Children’s emotions differ from adults', according to K. M. B. Bridges, in that they are briefer, more frequent and lack shading. By adolescence the outbursts are being controlled and replaced by moods. The adult is so thickly larded over with attitudes and faire faces that often he doesn’t know himself what emotion he is experiencing. The aging individual, despairing over his weakening influence, becomes less and less responsive and more and more sensitive. While a child's reactions are fluid to an exasperating degree, an old person is equally exasperating in his rigidity.
The most persistent traits in human nature, lasting from toothlessness to toothlessness, have been observed to include bossiness, conscientiousness, jealousy, sympathy, spunkiness, strong will, ambition, affection, nervousness, attractiveness, brightness, carelessness, irritability and quarrelsomeness. “Later developments are to an increasing degree expanding and supplementary, rather than transforming, evolutionary rather than revolutionary," comments University of Detroit psychologist Justin Pikunas.
Psychology now is old enough to have some long-range behavior studies under its belt that illustrate this. A Fels Research Institute project launched in the 1930s recently reported on the personalities of adults who had been observed first as two-year-olds. One two-year-old wept violently when her mother tried to leave her in the nursery, at three was timid and tense, at six very shy, at eight overly obedient and fearful. She grew up to be a meek, mild spinster living with her parents. Another girl of three was self-sufficient and stubborn, at five competitive and demanding, later was always accompanied by an effacing, admiring friend. As an adult she shunned too close association with men, enjoyed the role of adviser to weaker friends and trusted no one with her confidences. Studies conducted over a fifty-year period show similar results: whiners developed into adults who were chronically dissatisfied and pugnacious little boys became pugnacious big boys.
Fears may change their habits—a childhood fear of the dark may become adult depression on cloudy days —but most of them also last a lifetime. Fears begin in a baby's first year, when they are learned from his mother. By contagion, he experiences her alarm at meeting strangers or panic at storms. Fear is so easy to implant that experiments with it are now beneath the dignity of most psychologists. In an early typical conditioning experiment, a two-year-old was given a mixture of vinegar and orange juice, which induced shivering and grimaces, and the drink was accompanied by the click of a snapper. Two weeks later the click of a snapper caused the child to shiver: also, understandably, he loathed orange juice.
Fear is a universal response of infants and children, stimulated by strangeness and by the hostility they associate with parents who are overly frustrating and punitive. It is much more grave an emotion than merely a source of nightmares or dislike of heights. A fearful child is off balance, requiring an exaggerated amount of love. His bloated hunger can never be satisfied, resulting in a personality which becomes difficult, angry and jealous.
Love, however, seems to be the opposite of fear, providing balm and backbone. Babies learn to love in what is described as the critical period, between five and eighteen months. The figures were arrived at in a five-year World Health Organization study of children displaced by war: they suffered inability to love most grievously if they were deprived of it during those months of their lives. The art of loving, a highly skilled emotion, can develop only if the baby is loved by someone constant and attentive.
The Pygmalion role of environment in shaping human personality is best illustrated by studies of isolated cultures. For instance, children in the Alors are abandoned by their mothers shortly after birth and subsequently are cared for on a casual basis by the entire adult community. It results in almost identical personalities—adults who are anxious, suspicious, noncooperative and quick-tempered. The Alors traits tellingly can be found in North America, in people raised in
institutions or multiple foster homes.
"The character of the child is molded by the character of its parents, in response to whom it develops," writes psychoanalyst Erich Fromm. He believes the attitude of the parents is a reflection of their social class and time in history. In the Middle Ages, for example, parents were wary of trusting their own initiative and bred circumspect children. The eighteenth anil nineteenth centuries featured exploitation by adventurers, who regard-
ed force and guile as virtues. Stable bourgeois economies which followed were marked by thrift and orderliness, while our present era is dominated by what Dr. Fromm calls the "marketing orientation." resulting in troubled men who use an idealized personalitv (charm, vigor, adjustment) as a tool for advancement. In their wake are developing generations of charming, vigorous, adjusted, worried children.
EMOTION, mused the Dutch philosc-
phcr Spinoza three hundred years ago. is a confused idea. A more recent definition comes from Professor D. O. Hcbh. a research psychologist at McGill University. “Emotion." he commented coldly, "is a disorganized response."
In the interval between the two similar pronouncements, man has been trying to solve the mystery of his own personality. A century ago a new science, psychology, was formed to explain behavior. Sired by medicine and philosophy, it now gambols w'ith mathematics, anthropology, sociology, biology, chemistry, zoology and neurology — none of which have yet helped to explain how a man puts on his gloves without thinking about it.
I ike those of Hebb and Spinoza, modern explanations of emotion cling close to the Latin root word emovere. which means inner turbulence. This avoids, as psychology has been careful to do for forty years, what is held to be the fallacy of separating emotion into brand names, such as fear, love or rage. Such distinctions, many experts now' feel, are mirages which exist only in the eye of the beholder.
It's like trying to package a mist. Arrogance may mask insecurity and humility may mask arrogance. A man may be termed polite by one neighbor and spineless by another, calm by one set of standards and cold by another. The smiling depressions arc among the most likely to suicide and maternal hatred commonly conceals itself under gushing indulgence.
In an emergency, the muscles tense, the face pales, the mouth dries and the heartbeat thunders—all automatic preparations for either flight or fight. No man knows which he will choose until he has begun, nor is there a way to measure the clement of cowardice in an act of public courage or the bravery in refusing to fight.
A psychoanalyst who addressed a famous conference on emotions, the Mooseheart Symposium at the University of Chicago in 1950, said he had never observed an emotion as a distinct entity, without nuances of other emotions, habits, sublimations, self-deception and inhibition. Love often encloses a grain of hatred because the lover has made himself vulnerable to hurt: fear has an edge of anger at the effrontery of danger and grief bears with it self-interest.
Before the dawn of irresolution about labeling, explorers in human behavior used to believe that emotions were islands that could be identified by any spritcly observer. Descartes mapped six primary emotions: love, hate, astonishment, desire, joy and sorrow'. Kant described five feelings: love. hope, modesty, joy and sorrow. William James charted four coarse emotions: fear, grief, rage and love. Lint-pickers have listed as many as five hundred.
A new method of surveying had to be established. What evolved was the attitude that emotions arc only sand dunes, so changeable they are unworthy of attention. This left the problem of describing the desert. Spinoza anticipated the tremí by declaring that human behavior flowed from one source—desire—with overtones either of pleasure or pain. Some researchers later decided there are only two primary feelings, pleasant and unpleasant. which can be simultaneous.
Carl Jung established the important division of extravert and introvert, the former applying to those who sally out and grapple with reality and the latter to those who peer at the world through distorting windows. Everyone, he added, is a combination of introvert and extravert.
Twenty years ago psychologist W. H. Sheldon divided people according to temperament - physique. Persons with broad trunks, short limbs and a tendency to middle-aged fat, he said, have comfort - loving, relaxed and social natures. Those who are lean, long-limbed, narrow-faced share a temperament marked by inhibition and aloof thoughtfulness. Athletic types, with well-proportioned bodies and good muscular development, are associated with vigor and push.
These types can also be classified cheerlessly according to the type of mental illness to w hich they seem most prone. The chunky people are cyclothymic, which means subject to fluctuating moods, the lanky people schizothymie, which denotes a tendency to withdraw' from reality, and the athletes can be either.
Sheldon’s grouping is a variation on the trait theory of behavior, in and out of favor since Hippocrates propounded his four temperaments, choleric. sanguine, melancholic and phlegmatic. The chief argument against all of them is that the liveliness of a man’s behavior is influenced significantly by such factors as the state of his health and whether or not he is on familiar ground.
The experts may quibble in the back room, but for most people emotional behavior means only irrational behavior. The concept that fear should he mute, depression uncomplaining and anger nonexistent is a primary cause of dysfunction in the interior. A man determined to ingratiate himself can legislate his behavior so that displeasure never shows, but he’ll ulcerate his stomach, exhaust his heart and blight his digestion in the process.
This side of the grave, there’s no such state as an absence of emotion: excitability is the test to determine if a protoplasm is living matter. Herbert Spencer, a difficult Victorian who was one of the founders of psychology, used to claim he was without emotion, save the single one of pride in his unemotionalism, but he left humanitarian writings to prove him wrong. Even that model of propriety Lord Chesterfield is now known to have been a sensuous rogue.
The controlled, unruffled person often has a higher degree of emotion or measurable tension than the volatile types who give the word emotion a bad name. A University of California test demonstrated that teen-agers who were the least talkative, attentionseeking, animated and assertive, the most responsible, good-natured and co-operative, were also the most tense. For the sake of socially admired blandness, they were bottling up a tumult. The paradox of emotion is that weak personalities, those who are oversensitive, take criticism poorly. are arrogant and quick to anger, actually are less prone to emotional tension than many of the strong stoics.
Physiologists have learned that no emotion, once launched, ever disappears in the universe of a human. The sudden onslaught of an alarm pro-
duces. at a speed about half that of sound, chemical alterations that were suitable to the Pliocene man. For extra strength in what the heathen system presumes to be a forthcoming battle, the heart steps up its output bv as much as two thirds, sugar is freed from reserves in the liver, processes in the alimentary canal cease and there is a flood throughout of electrifying adrenin. This aroused state lasts until the fight is over.
It s all very handy for dealing with
a scaly carnivore, but decidedly unhealthy for an adjusted modern man who caps his feelings with an affable smile and wears out his heart. Some seething men explode like roman rockets at home, a scheme that leaves their public popularity intact but fails to relieve the basic rage intended for other targets. Ill-suppressed anger can cause permanent high blood pressure: hate wrecks the digestion: fear can paralyze and anxiety breeds a gastric ulcer. These are the disrupting emo-
tions; all of those associated with aifection and interest are normally beneficial. In the quasicmotional state of interest, an individual feels exuberantly alive and efficient. But even borderline states, such as embarrassment. set up quakings in his viscera and block his ability to think.
Physiologists regard the perplexities of emotion in much the same way as a mechanic looks at a motor — the machine runs contentedly when the parts are working as they should. It’s
an outlook that scoffs at the role of affection between machines, or whether the sun is shining. Irritability, they explain, is caused by too little calcium in the blood. Lack of initiative stems from an underactive thyroid: anxiety and lying from an overactive thyroid. Temper tantrums result from a low blood sugar count. Courage and forceful ness are the products of an oversccreting pituitary and fear and shyness stem from underactivity of the same gland. Errant organs have been significant in shaping history: Napoleon is suspected, w'ith some justification. to have suffered a pituitary failure at Moscow; Beethoven and Caesar, monumentally compulsive men, were also epileptics.
Most behavior scientists are impatient at the notion that a man’s lifetime personality can be shaped by a pinch of chemical or a leaky gasket. Like all explanations of human emotions, it is simultaneously plausible and nonsense. Other theories, for instance, make a winning case for the role of habitat. Frenchmen, it is presumed, are supported in their libidinous impulses by the knowledge that promiscuity is expected of them, just as the New' Englander is thwarted in the same pursuit by his heritage of austerity.
One psychologist notes that it is observably true that northerners in countries as disparate as China, Germany, Italy and Scotland generally show toughness, grit, vigor, frugality, honesty and a quick tongue. Southerners in the same countries tend to be ingenuous to the point of foolishness, easily satisfied, hospitable, casual, softspoken and lazy of movement. The eighteenth - century French jurist Montesquieu believed strongly in the influence of climate; warm weather, he wrote, relaxed the body fibres.
Weather does have a notable effect on mood. Researchers have noted that tempers rise in direct ratio to the fall of the barometer. On cloudy days people tend to be melancholic and cranky, while sunshine is a recognized therapy for depression.
Gender is also a factor, though emotional differences between men and women are not believed to be at all inborn. Five-year-old boys are as demonstrative as five-ycar-okl girls, but eventually the social pressure on the boys to be “manly” calcifies their behavior so they are generally unable to weep, roar or fight. Grown women appear more emotional than men, an arrangement which contributes to their longer life spans. Ortega y Gasset has written that the suppression of emotion is the greatest error of western man since the Renaissance.
Studies of men and women who have matured under the influence of a North American environment show that men have more emotions of aggression than women, while women wind up w ith more emotions of abasement and nurturing. European women have strong needs for acceptance by men: European men. perhaps in consequence, have less aggression.
Whatever the character of the predominating emotions, many scientists are coming to the conclusion that the only bad emotion is an intense one. They are intrigued by earthworms, who extend themselves luxuriously when stroked gently, thicken and withdraw when stimulated strongly.
Fish swim toward a weak light, bend away from a bright one. Laboratory animals throw experiments into confusion because they often enjoy mild shocks meant to dissuade them.
Similarly, mild fear isn’t unpleasant to humans, as witness the popularity of midways, ski jumps and speeding on highways, but joy at its highest peak is both exhausting and physically painful. Athletes and actors perform best when well charged with apprehension; panic, however, fills them with glue. An angry man is a dangerous opponent, but a furious one is a fool.
Violent emotions have the added disadvantage of lingering in the system long after they seem to have disappeared. Cats, X-rayed some time after an alarming dog had been removed, still showed an internal state characteristic of fear. Left-over anger can make a man curse vilely because he can’t find a comb.
Fascination with such peripheral matters as X-raying frightened cats can obscure the real issue: no one yet knows what factors a human puts together to produce a feeling.
There arc happy warriors all over the world who hack at the brain, searching in its ganglia for the mind —dubbed “the ghost in the machine" —as their forefathers fingered through entrails to locate the soul. The quest began nearly a hundred years ago when surgeons discovered that a certain area of the brain directly affected speech. At about the same time, a railway worker suffered an accident with a hot crowbar which removed the front part of his brain, leaving him alive hut with a personality drastically altered from diligent and doleful to foul-tempered and drunken. Doctors delightedly inferred that the brain was chock-full of control centres, one for every emotion.
Operations on the brains of cats subsequently established that there indeed is a lower brain full of hatred and rage. One anthropologist calls it the fossil brain, because of the likelihood that it is a living remnant of the brain of early man. This sleeping caveman is kept in check by the hypothalamus, a group of nuclei at the base of the brain which is believed to be the seat of emotions. The hypothalamus is the headquarters of a dense network of about two thousand million motley neurons, all zealously storing up grudges and shooting messages at one another by means of their own eccentric electrochemical system.
When part of the brain is damaged, or removed by curious surgeons, a reserve system steps in smartly with its lines already learned. Memory permeates the whole structure: dice a brain as tiny as you can and each speck will remember the words to Begin the Beginne, the pattern of the wallpaper in a childhood bedroom and the route to the cottage. "Thought,” wrote philosopher Henri Bergson admiringly, "is a dance of molecules in the brain." The IBM calculator has been built to resemble the brain, but the most complicated computers have fifteen billion fewer parts than the device nature puts together.
Recent probings have discovered that, like many other parts of the anatomy. the brain has places where it likes to be tickled. Neurophysiologists have been sinking electrode needles
into animal brains and then, by stimulation. revealing that there are areas that seem to please the subject and other areas that upset him. Reward and punishment systems, psychologists lugubriously term these sectors. The old division of emotions as pleasant or unpleasant, or the premise that a baby begins with delight and distress would also suit the reaction of the lab animals, who crouch in misery when electrodes are operating in the posterior part of the brain hut prefer shocks in their anterior brain to eating. When McGill's James Olds outlined his experiments in brain stimulation before the 1955 Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, a psychologist demurred, “If we could feel all the rewards of eating without eating, would we eat? . . . Plugging itself into an Olds-intermittent - stimulation socket, what happens to civilization?”
Neurosurgeons like Dr. Wilder Pcnfield are now so thoroughly at home in the crowded pulp beneath the skull that they can pinpoint the minute spot that will cause a man's right index finger to move. But nowhere is there a place that can be depressed to make a man compassionate or reasonable. England's greatest physiologist. Sir Charles Sherrington, studied the human cerebrum until he was in his mid-nineties. He once observed, “I can find no explanation of the mind in terms of the brain.”
The search hasn't been conducted entirely with needles and scalpels. Ever since Freud, men have hoped that the broad blackness of the unconscious mind, where man hides every event and thought of his lifetime, would yield up an explanation of his emotions. Spelunking psychiatrists have probed for decades, but the unconscious is stingy with its secrets. It was even hoped that the study of insects would be rewarding, since they combine a high level of instinct with a low' level of intelligence, which would otherwise get in the way of the instinct research. The scientists in this field ended with nothing, save an increased respect for insects.
The Russian conditioned reflex expert Pavlov spent twenty-five years collecting the saliva of dogs from their punctured cheeks and a Scandinavian has spent his adult life transfixed by the behavior of an earnest little fish called the stickleback, but they had little effect on the understanding of emotions. Some experiments are bizarre in the extreme: in a study of aversion, women volunteers were requested to cut off the heads of live rats; another project along the same lines used chimpanzees and watched their reactions to the decapitated head of another chimp. Other experiments are purely charming: psychologists,
disguising themselves as trippers, accompanied a group of university students vacationing on the Isle of Man and made copious notes about their conversation and behavior; in Florida, an enchanted scientist has succeeded in teaching a porpoise to whistle, in response to the pleasant electrode stimulation of his brain.
Currently psychologists are annoyed by the vagueness of such household words as emotions, instinct, feelings. passion and human nature. They have substituted higher mathematics and such hard-edged terms as drive, goal, stimulus, motivation, instrumen-
tal avoidance response, conditioned motor reflex and need-satisfying. Laboratory clarity is advanced minutely, but the science is plunged into the murk. One psychologist, for instance, says he has succeeded in transposing into algebra Hamlet's feelings as he watched his uncle praying.
In the midst of such bloodless tangents. it is consoling to find that every scientist who steps back from the workbench long enough to get a good view discovers that man is much more wonderful than he suspected. The constancy of a human is a miracle. “The living being is stable.” wrote the French physiologist Charles Richet in 1900. "It must be so in order not to be destroyed, dissolved or disintegrated by colossal forces, often adverse, which surround it."
Stability is so important to man that much of his weight is taken up with safety features — extra organs everywhere and overbuilt parts like a liver ten times larger than it needs to be. The surest tendency of a human is to revert to his natural state, like Aesop's cat who changed into a woman and fooled everyone until a mouse ran past. Commented Francis Bacon: “Nature is often hidden, sometimes overcome, seldom extinguished.”
Despite the obscurism of much of psychology, there is evidence that people swing back with sweet naturalness to their normal emotional state, despite batterings by grief, anxiety over debt, disappointment or thwarted love. There is even an inherent reaching for maturity in emotional life as there is in the physical. The matchless neurons fit together cause and efTect, reinforce with observation, calibrate with judgment and produce new bloom.
Their goal is self-understanding, a flaunting of Voltaire's doleful “Ourselves we never see. or come to know.” Healthy people, according to Brandeis University psychology professor Abraham Maslow, are characterized by superior perception of reality, increased acceptance of self, of others and of nature, increased spontaneity, increased desire for privacy, greater freshness of appreciation and richness of emotional reaction, more democratic character structure.
It's an ideal in which bar-pressing mice and decerebrated cats have little bearing. “In the latter stages of growth,” writes Maslow. “the person is essentially alone and can rely only on himself.” ★