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GENERAL THEORY OF PSYCHOLOGY


BOOK:
THE LAWS OF PSYCHE

Alberto E. Fresina


CHAPTER 5 -(pages 51 to 82 of the book of 410)

Index of the chapter:

THE REFLEX LEVEL
1. Neuro physiological substratum of pleasure and displeasure
2. The nervous system and the basic psychological contradiction
3. The autonomous maintenance system
4. Perseverance of neuronal work
5. The acting way of the autonomous maintenance system
6. Life styles and neurons' activity
7. The psychic aspect and its relationship with the nervous system
8. Passivity of the psychic aspect
9. The receiving cells of the psychic aspect
10. Pleasure and displeasure influence on the nervous system
11. The directed reflexes
12. The directed tendency
13. Classification of reflexes



PART II


SPECIFIC DEVELOPMENT


. The structure and the psychic operation


 

CHAPTER 5


THE REFLEX LEVEL


Although we will discuss each level one by one, the aspects on the level of the psyche pointed out in the former chapter will be useful to know in which place of the "psychological map" the matter we are dealing with will be situated. In this chapter, the neuronal or reflex level will be the transitional "basis of operations", from where we will be able to observe the psychic phenomena.


1. Neuro physiological substratum of pleasure and displeasure

Although the central nervous system is too complicated as to define in it the basis of certain psychological functions, we can find very important information in neuro-physiology. This is the existence, in the basis of the brain, of neuronal areas that when starting their activity they provoke pleasant or unpleasant effects, like experiences. In patients who are eventually undergone to some surgeries, who offer themselves for the test, it is observed that the application of electric stimulus (of very low intensity) in certain areas of the basis of the brain (limbic system) has as a result pleasant or unpleasant sates in the person, according to the stimulated area. Such experimental effects are repeated every time that the stimulus is exercised with the same intensity and in the same area*. Therefore, contrary to other psychological functions, the neuronal activity that is responsible for pleasant or unpleasant experiences seems to be located.


* Best y Taylor. Bases fisiológicas de la práctica médica 10 Edición. Editorial Médica Panamericana. Buenos Aires 1982. Page. 1508 (Best and Taylor. “Physiological bases of medical practice”)

This may happen, since we are not talking about the complex superior functions of the cerebral crust, where it is arbitrary to speak about locations in general, but of the basic psychic reactions, shared by the diverse animals, and whose neurophysiological basis seems to be found in the most archaic or primitive areas of the nervous system, in which there would be certain tendency to the location of functions.

In other experiments with animals, it would have also been possible to locate the particular neuronal nucleus responsible for the most primary necessities, that is, the neuronal nucleus located in such way that when entering in activity, would produce hunger, thirst, etc. For example, when the "nucleus of hunger" is stimulated with certain continuity, the animal doesn't stop eating and it puts on weight quickly, contrary to other animals of same litter under normal conditions. Then, if the activity to this nucleus of hunger is blocked, the organism is not longer interested in food. In similar experiments, clear unpleasant or pleasant reactions in the animal are proved according to the stimulated area, which is observed in external manifestations that show one or another psychic state.*


* Whittaker James O. Psicología ("Psychology"). Nueva Editorial Interamericana. México 1984. Pág. (page)150.

This information is not enough to believe that the neurons, which are responsible for the pleasant or unpleasant experiences, have a very limited location. They may only show a tendency to the location, being distributed in vaguely differentiated areas. Anyway, we will pay attention to what this information suggests us as a working hypothesis, and from now on, we will refer to them in a simple way as pleasure and displeasure neurons.


2. The nervous system and the basic psychological contradiction

We are now in conditions to consider the basic contradiction from a different approach. The fight, in fact, could be planned between the strength that tends to produce the stimulation of the pleasure neurons and to inhibit the activity of displeasure neurons against the opponent strengths responsible for the stimulation of displeasure neurons and of the denial of work in pleasure neurons. It is about the respective "objectives" of strengths at fight. This would be the essential mechanism of the psychic operation. Nature created a series of complex neurophysiological mechanisms that in their autonomous performance, are in charge of stimulating displeasure neurons and of inhibiting the activity of pleasure neurons, while the neurophysiological strengths which are "loyal" to the general law, tend to stimulate  pleasure neurons and to deny this stimulation in the displeasure ones.

We know that the main ways towards pleasure are present in the nucleus of satisfaction of impulses. For that reason, nervous tracts stimulated by the objects of impulses’ satisfaction  are the only ones that have a significant "affluence" in the pleasure neurons. For example, in the mouth cavity, we find the nervous receivers or terminals that are stimulated during the ingestion of food or when drinking. The nervous activity that started in the mouth cavity goes up to the brain, and according to conditions it is free to end up in the pleasure neurons, which will be activated.

Nervous tracts of access to pleasure neurons, are specially restricted and opened only to nervous stimulation caused by adapting objects and under adapting or useful conditions for life. This would not only happen with nervous tracts that go up from certain areas of the body. When the object of satisfaction is a fact, which occurs at symbolic or abstract level (satisfaction of the curiosity impulse, for example) a drop in the nervous activity would take place from the crust up to the basis of the brain where "psychic neurons" are located, taking into account the conditions.

The objects of satisfaction of the impulses, make not only the stimulation of pleasure neurons, but at the same time, they are the only ways that end up in the inhibition of displeasure neurons or necessity's activity.

In the contradiction or continuous fight between the general law and the opponent forces, the activity of the cerebral crust underlying the intelligent intention is always at the service of the general law. The whole intentional activity of the brain tends to achieve the objects-situations that are the entrance ways to pleasure neurons, and that at the same time it inhibits the activity of displeasure neurons or of the nec. However, although the strength of intelligent intention is very powerful, it can never achieve an absolute victory against the enemy, that is, it is never able to achieve only pleasure and to finish displeasure completely. On this issue, one question arises: what happens if somebody has only pleasure reasons and no displeasure reasons? It is very common that individuals that are closed to those exceptionally favorable life conditions, show frequent and lasting displeasure states, that appear without any justifiable reason for the subjective knowledge, example: anxiety, anguish, general non-conformity, etc. This phenomenon of anxiety "without reason", has confused psychology and other sciences that work on this subject, besides confusing “more seriously” the subjects that experience it.


3. The autonomous maintenance system

The following concept would give explanation of that strange compensatory phenomenon. One of the most general laws of physiology, an axiom of popular knowledge, tells us that every organ which does not work properly, becomes atrophied or degenerated. Neurons are not free from this law. On the contrary, they are easiest to be degenerated if normal activity is lacking. Therefore, if a subject does not have any reason of feeling displeasure for a long time, this means that displeasure neurons would not be working during that time. On account of that, neurons would become atrophied until degenerating. This seems to be a danger. But nature is always "paying attention" to such situations. For that reason, a special homeostatic system would exist in organisms, whose role would be to ensure the good maintenance of the structural and functional capacity that all the organs have. In those organs where an appropriate activity could not take place due to external or normal stimulation, this system would act encouraging the autonomous stimulation of those organs, for their maintenance. In such way and regarding the case we are discussing about, this system would be the responsible for the autonomous stimulation of the displeasure neurons in order to keep them in good state, which would have an effect on the experience, being this matter the anxiety or anguish "without any reason".

The system of autonomous maintenance would be generalized in the organism, controlling the good conditions of those organs. Example, stomach contractions that take place when the organism spends a long time without ingesting food, would be controlled by this system which would make the stomach muscles perform their compulsory "training session". If those muscles were kept in absolute rest during all the days that the organism can resist without eating, its performance would finish in bad conditions. The stomach would not be prepared for the moment when the animal is able to ingest great quantity of food. Here digestion supposes a stomach under good conditions, and for that, it has to be trained, to be occupied with maintenance contractions while it waits for food. We also find the presence of the autonomous maintenance system in the phase of the dream, called paradoxical dream (moment where dreams are lived), featured by an electric activity of the brain, similar to the vigil one, and it would carry out the function of avoiding that long rest of reticular formation and other areas of the central nervous system that are almost without any activity during the deep dream.

There would be more to say about the system of autonomous maintenance, but it would mean a turning point towards general physiology, and that was not the "deal". We are interested here in the above case, of that person having no reasons for displeasure; this system would be responsible for the compulsory stimulation of the corresponding neurons, in order to keep them in  good state, what it would have as effect that "autonomous anxiety" in the experience.

It is evident that that case would not be the only cause of anxiety. But it would be indeed, in the cases as the example above, since if a subject is able to avoid all displeasure cause, example: he eats at the smallest sign of hunger, he drinks without being thirsty, he rests without getting tired before, he does not have reasons to get worried or afraid, and so on with all needs, the responsible neurons to provoke with their acting: hunger, thirst, fatigue, fear, can not be without working for a long time. Therefore, a moment will arrive in that system of autonomous maintenance causing the combined activity of all those neurons, shaping anxiety (undifferentiated nec.), or anguish (intense anxiety mixed with fear).

Regarding pleasure neurons, it happens something similar. When somebody undergoes a very troubling situation, that makes him live three or four days in a row, under continuous displeasure, a moment will arrive where the pleasures neurons will no longer "bear" such a long rest, and they will start their "pleasant" training session. On the other hand, displeasure neurons that have had an intense and uninterrupted activity should rest to recover energy. It is at this point, when the person changes his attitude in the presence of his difficulties; he starts seeing that everything clears up and that it is not "so bad"; cheerful and easiness sensations appear, when his problems continue being objectively the same ones, or maybe more serious. Once the pleasures neurons carried out their training session, and when the displeasure ones recovered their energy, they restart their painful task and the dark part of the situation returns to the subject's conscience.

We conclude so far, that neuronal nucleus or areas, responsible for pleasure and  displeasure, would always have approximately the same global average of activity, against our will. Perhaps, the average activity of each group of neurons are not exactly constant; but it should be close to it, since a work at "half speed" would produce a partial atrophy, and the organism needs to have those nervous organs always ready and in good state, if survival is the objective.

Although the working average global volume of each group of neurons is not exactly the same, at least it would be in relation to the effect of their structural and functional maintenance. The proof is that the capacity of such nervous centers that produce pleasure or displeasure as an effect of their task never deteriorates.

The situation is quite curious. Intention or general law only wants the pleasure neurons to work while the displeasure ones do not have to, when that is impossible and a "waste of time".

This is an aspect showing the objective contradiction of the psyche. But it is clear that we can not stay with our arms folded, but we will rather work out the details of this “psycho-absurd” situation.


4. Perseverance of neuronal work

An argument against the hypothesis about the objective perseverance of the working average of those neuronal areas, is marked by the fact that eventually one may live times of hapiness and unhappiness. Such objection is important, since the perseverance hypothesis is that in three or four days, the total of average activity of each group of neurons, would be matched. Therefore, if we live two months in a certain average happiness and other two months in a certain average unhappiness, this contradicts the perseverance hypothesis. But there is an answer to the objection, and it consists on the consideration of the two factors: intensity and duration, as components of the whole and constant mass of neuronal performance. Thus, if the whole neuronal performance has a magnitude: 100, its composition may be: intensity 10 - duration 10 (10 x 10 = 100), or rather intensity 20 - duration 5,or intensity 5 - duration 20, etc. In all cases, the working global volume is equally 100.

Let’s consider three days in which that total work of each group of neurons, would necessarily take place; that is, if we take into account three days running, the global quantity of neuronal working at any time will be always the same. The autonomous maintenance system would only try to keep the average global amount, but it is not “interested” in the relationship duration-intensity, since it would not affect the result of the proper neurons maintenance. However, the effect of the experience would not be the same, with one or another distribution of duration-intensity of that neuronal work. For the personal experience, it would be better to distribute the necessary amount of the work carried out by displeasure neurons in the maximum duration and minimum intensity. While regarding pleasure, it would be the opposite; there would be a better psychic result, when pleasure neurons have the maximum intensity and consequent minimum duration in their activity.

This seems to be a mistake, that is, whole experiences should also have to be the same with one or another distribution. The explanation that it would not be the same for the experience, it is something complicated but finally it is understood. Firstly, in order to make the experience effect appears, it is necessary a minimum of intensity of the nervous activity making it arise. In other words, if just a single, tiny and invisible neuron is stimulated, for example a displeasure one, there will be no experience effect. If ten or thirty neurons are stimulated, there will not be an experience effect either. If we keep on increasing the number of stimulated neurons, so they reach thousand, ten thousand, we will not have an effect either. But at a certain time, the effect will appear, arbitrary example: the unpleasant effect will arise when the stimulated displeasure neurons, exceeds the number of a million. (In fact intensity not only arises out from the quantity of neurons that work, but also of the product of the quantity of neurons plus the frequency of nervous impulses of each one. But let’s suppose that the frequency of nervous impulses of each neuron is constant, so  intensity will be only carried out by the number of stimulated neurons).

We can deduce then, that the activity of a million neurons is only useful in order to reach the experience threshold, but it has no effect. The neurons’ work that exceeds the million is the only one that has an effect in the experience. This means that the more the displeasure neurons work the bigger will be the loss of the effect of that constant work, equal to a million neurons, being little what it appears in the experience effect in relation to all what it is lost in the sub-threshold. On the other hand, if the constant global mass of the work of the displeasure neurons is distributed in the maximum intensity and minimum duration, little will be lost in the sub-threshold and most work will be present in the experience effect. Graphically:

In both graphics, we find the same global mass of neural work, represented by the whole surface of the figure. In graph 1, we can see that the effect of experiencing displeasure is minimum than the unpleasant experience of graph 2. However, in both cases the same neuronal work is carried out. In the first case, the whole difference lies in the largest loss of the sub-threshold work of a million neurons in each successive instant. This is due to the fact that the working mass is distributed in the maximum duration and minimum intensity.

In the case of the pleasure neurons, the situation is the same. Undoubtedly, instead of obtaining a horizontal bar making it lose the whole effect, numerous and frequent high fine vertical bars should be exhibited.

Let's see a simple analogy of another reality issue that will demonstrate us the universality of these relationships and will help us to understand the nature of the phenomenon better. Let's suppose that we have a great truck parked and we count with thirty men of the same muscular strength each one, to push it. The effect that we consider is the movement of the truck and the quantum of its movement. Let's suppose that the vehicle offers a resistance whose power is equivalent to the strength of 13 men pushing. Therefore, the strength of 13 subjects, applied to the truck is only useful to balance the resistance, but it is not enough to provoke the effect of the movement. However, in that equilibrium situation, the lightest blow already moves it. Let's establish that each one of the 30 subjects can only use their maximum strength for 5 seconds. This way, the strength or total energy we have, is the maximum strength used by 30 men for 5 seconds.

Let’s consider two possible ways of distributing the whole energy. In the first test, we will divide the men into 2 groups of 15 each. We make the first group push during 5”, and we measure the dynamic energy transmitted to the vehicle, as expression of the quantity of its movement. We do the same with the other group of 15 and we measure the transmitted dynamic energy that will be the same one. Finally we sum up both partial products and we will obtain an x product, as result of the first test. Then, in the second test, we make the 30 men push together during 5". Undoubtedly, the dynamic energy transmitted to the truck, will be higher than the total of the first one, during the second test. This is due to the following: the resistance of the vehicle is equal to 13 men’s strength. For that reason, in each one of the two partial attempts during the first test, the strength of 13, out of the 15 that pushed, is only useful to balance the resistance, taking advantage of the effect of the strength of 2. Therefore, in the total of the first test, the effect of 26 men’s strength in balancing the resistance of the truck is lost and it is only useful the effect of the strength of 4. Instead, in the second test, when pushing 30 men together, just the effect of 13 subjects in balancing the resistance is lost, taking advantage of the effect of the other 17.

We see then that in both tests, the same muscular working quantity was used. But in the first case, the distribution was: intensity 15 (men) per duration 10" (two shifts of 5") = 150; and in the second one: intensity 30 per duration 5" = 150. However, the achieved effect is very different in one case and the other.

Comparing this to what it happens with the performance of pleasure or displeasure neurons in relation to the personal experience effect, we find that the strength of 13 men gets lost in balancing the resistance of the truck as well as the energy of the million neurons in activity gets lost only by reaching the personal experience threshold, or rather in balancing the resistance that is opposed to the personal experience effect.

Then, if the whole working volume of the displeasure neurons is constant in those 3 days, it will be better to distribute it as much as possible, so that the energy of the sub-threshold work equivalent to a million neurons, gets lost during the maximum possible time, and that as a result, little proportion appears like an unpleasant personal experience effect. On the other hand, regarding the pleasure neurons, the best thing neurons can do is pushing together repeatedly to take the maximum advantage of personal experience effect, and that there does not exist useless sub-threshold loss of that quantity of assigned activity.

There are certain reasons to believe, that the area occupied by displeasure neurons is larger than in the case of the pleasure ones. Firstly, subjective experience shows us that pleasure is hardly ever more than sporadic and brief irruptions, while displeasure is usually very lasting and not less deep. Then, according to the adaptation criteria in order to survive, it would be more useful to be like this, so that, the organism is more obliged to get what it needs. On the other hand, experimental information provided by the soundings carried out by the neurophysiological science, in the different areas of the brain, also pretends to demonstrate that the area occupied by the neuronal centers would be bigger, responsible for unpleasant experiences. Lastly, we can admit one fact known by everybody: to be unhappy is something very "easy". We will suppose then, that the displeasure neurons are twice as much as the pleasure ones. For example, if in those 3 days running, the total energy generated by the performance of the pleasure neurons is 100, the total in the displeasure ones is 200. Of course this is an arbitrary relationship, but let's accept the hypothesis and remember that we are talking about the neurons' performance, without taking experience into account.

Based on that magnitude’s difference, we can suppose that although those 200 corresponding to the displeasure neurons’ performance, are distributed at the maximum duration and minimum intensity, likewise a proportion under the way of unpleasant experience effect, would show up; thus, if during those 3 days, the displeasure neurons work at the maximum duration and minimum intensity, the effect of 150 of that work would be lost, for example, and 50 of displeasure ones would be registered in the whole experience. Then, if the pleasure neurons whose total performance is 100 in those 3 days, are stimulated with the maximum duration and minimum intensity, everything would be almost lost, without any or almost any appearing in the experience effect. This is due because, on being minimum, and as all the work is "stretched out" at maximum duration, the intensity would not reach the experience effect. For that reason, the pleasure neurons must have the maximum intensity and minimum duration in their performance. In such  case, out of the total of 100 of the energy of the pleasure neurons’ performance, it would show up to the experience the effect of 90, getting lost only 10. On the other hand, if the displeasure neurons work at the maximum possible intensity and the minimum consequent duration, out of the total of 200, about 180 are “felt” in the experience and  the effect of just 20 is lost.

In that way, the maximum objective happiness, that is, the work of the pleasure neurons at the maximum intensity and minimum duration, and the displeasure ones in the opposite way: maximum duration and minimum intensity, it would imply a total experience product of pleasure 90 and displeasure 50. But the maximum unhappiness, which is the hypothetical invariable amount of the pleasure neurons’ performance at maximum duration and minimum intensity, and the displeasure ones at maximum intensity and minimum duration, it would result in an experience displeasure of 180 and pleasure 0. Taking into account that abysmal difference between the maximum happiness and the worst unhappiness, the fact that one and other neurons have, each group, the same total mass of work in any distribution, would not affect at all. That would allow them to keep their proper structural and functional maintenance which is what neurons are “interested in”. But while for neurons is exactly the same one or another distribution, it is very different for us, since we are the addressees of the experience effect; one way of distribution or another one is like the paradise and the hell.

If we make the relation between this situation and the basic contradiction of the psyche, we will see that although it is an absolute resolution of the fight it would be fatal if one of the opponents annuls the other one completely, nevertheless there may not be any relative resolution of the contradiction. It is a wider and embracing fight, where the general average of the experience knowledge is at stake. Thus, if the general law succeeds, it achieves this effect: happiness obviously denying unhappiness; while the triumph of the opponent strengths, at this level, means the affirmation of unhappiness as effect and the denial of happiness. In other words, an average prevalence appears of one strength over the other one, although neither fight nor the eventual victories of the opponent are stopped.

The global volume of average performance of each group of neurons may not be  constant. For example, the total mass of 100 of the average performance of pleasure neurons, may be enlarged or compressed a little, that is, it may vary between 90 and 110, while the appropriate neuronal maintenance may be achieved. However, it could not be far away from average. It may be hard for us to believe, that a homeostatic tendency exists for the self-maintenance of the average activity of the neurons since we look at them from the experience demonstration, that it is what affects us. But if we forget experience and we observe the material brain, focusing on two groups of cold neurons, perceiving them as cells undergoing all physiologic laws, the existence of a simple regulator mechanism that tends to average their activity becomes more acceptable.

Although the total performance of each group of neurons, can be compressed or enlarged more than we have just supposed, without affecting the good neuronal maintenance, we would find the same, a minimum and a maximum of the total activity. In the case of the displeasure neurons, for example, although it is about only that minimum activity, it will show up in an anxiety’s way, etc. when the displeasure neurons have had an absolute rest. For that reason, although the total average of neuronal performance was more variable, it would be equally valid the consideration of these factors: duration-intensity, at least as partial decisive elements of maximum or minimum pleasure or displeasure experiences. In such case, the "formula" for the objective happiness would only have an attachment: "for the maximum objective happiness, the pleasure neurons should work at the maximum possible intensity and the minimum consequent duration, adding the global volume to it, distributed in this way, at the possible maximum; and the displeasure neurons must work in the maximum duration and minimum intensity, adding that the working mass is the minimum possible". Of course it would be better to consider the possibility of a wide variation of the volume of neuronal performance. But it is more likely, that in the case of existing some difference in the total mass of neuronal activity, that one would not move significantly away from the average. All distance from average would be to get closer to the neuronal degeneration (when rest is stressed), or to the neuronal fatigue and the consumption of the energy reservations (when over activity occurs).


5. The acting way of  the autonomous maintenance system

"Autonomous" pleasure or displeasure, as effects of maintenance neuronal activity, would hardly ever arise by themselves, they are linked to psychological reasons. What it happens more frequently, is that as soon as autonomous stimulation is closer, that will respond to the very lasting rest of neurons, external or internal psychological each time lighter stimulus are required, in order to give place to the effect of the neuronal activity; that is to say, the light stimulus that do not have any effect in other moment, when proximity of autonomous stimulation increases, would be under conditions of giving place or unchaining to what it already has come pushing alone. This situation could be compared to what it happens in relation to the cause of death. If there is no unchaining reason for death, natural death will arrive the same, as a law. But at the same time that the moment is closer, there are less reasons of power and the ones that would not have the effect in other cases, are unchained at this point. For that reason, when a single insignificant reason makes us feel anguish, and that same reason does not affect us in another opportunity, then, the cause of that anguish is not the reason but it would rather be the eventual state of those “physiologic tides" on many occasions, that make it necessary the performance of the responsible neurons, with or without reasons. An example of this would be the well-known “Sunday’s anguish”. The unchaining reason would not differ a lot from what it happens in any other day of the week. Such reason (in those places where people rest Saturday and/or Sunday) would be basically the end of the rest or proximity of the working week the following day. But difference lies in that pleasure neurons had the maximum possible work during many hours, while displeasure neurons have practically stopped their activity from Friday or Saturday midday. Therefore, on Sunday afternoon, the pleasure neurons are “exhausted” after their sustained task, and the displeasure ones start "pushing the doors", demanding to enter in activity, as an answer to their lengthy rest. Such neurophysiological conditions would be responsible for the unpleasant state that was easily unchained by the minimum psychological reason.

On the other hand, it is evident that if the presence of external or internal psychological stimulus or reasons is appropriate or it is adapted to the average volume of the necessary work that neurons carry out, the system of autonomous maintenance, although it is virtually present, does not participate at all.

Regarding the psychic activity during dream, certain compensatory stress of the activity of the pleasure or displeasure neurons would take place, according to the group of neurons requiring activity. The most marked performance of ones or others would be manifested in the pleasant or unpleasant contents of the dream. However, the role of dream, as a balance of the average work of the psychic neurons, would be only partial, since "dreams" are only present just for a little time. On the other hand, the state of deep dream shows an emphasized rest in the base of the brain, reason why there would be absence of experience activity. For that reason, the autonomous activity of maintenance would take place mainly during vigil.

To sum up, the autonomous anxiety would not be just a simple experience effect derived from the maintenance work of displeasure neurons or nec., but such anxiety would rather be useful to keep the organism in motion during leisure times, pushing it to game or to the practice of any activity. If that autonomous anxiety did not exist, and if those neurons had another way to be kept in good state, without experience effect in the good times, where everything is at hand and there is not practically any displeasure reasons, the animal or the primitive man would be without being able to make a movement for a long time, taking place the damage of capacities and global abilities. And this way, when luck changes and it is necessary to make use of the maximum capacities, the organism would be untrained and clumsy, being exterminated in the fight for life. Based on this, we see that that type of anxiety would be a reinforcement for the function of the recreational impulse. Boredom (nec. of the recreational impulse) as well as the autonomous anxiety naturally encourage and push "to do something" in order to leave that state, ending up in the security of the permanent activity of the organism.


6. Life Styles and neurons’ activity

Now we will devote ourselves to observe the relationship between what we have said about neurons and the impulses’ activity. So far, we have said that the absolute tendency of intention, expressed in the general law, is branched in the impulses already outlined (plus a few micro impulses) which are the particular ways that this general tendency has to affirm pleasure and to deny displeasure manifested in man. On the other hand, we saw that the objective happiness would have a defined psycho physiologic basis. The subjective approach of what happiness implies can vary, infinite times, from one subject to another one, but the objective approach is present in the favorable average of pleasure-displeasure experiences. As we have observed, the favorable average of pleasure would depend, ultimately, on a specific relationship of duration-intensity of the pleasure and displeasure neurons’ activity.

The regular satisfaction of all impulses or primary necs. would be a necessary condition for happiness, although not enough. It would be necessary because the lengthy non-satisfaction of an impulse, when its necessity is mobilized, produces frequent and deep painful states from that frustration, as well as anguish and anxiety’ states, attributable in this case to that non-satisfaction that leads easily to unhappiness. Then, the regular satisfaction of impulses, as we have said, would not be enough, because if somebody has everything "at hand", he tends to satisfy his necs. before they appear, that is to say, he can not develop the nec. state before satisfaction. This way, as deep pleasure is not achieved, one insists repeatedly trying to look for objects or pleasant situations, leading to live whole hours with almost continuous pleasure but of very little intensity. At the same time, the postponed work of the displeasure neurons starts to "ask for an appointment", appearing little by little. This situation makes the person try to counteract it with other objects and pleasant situations. With it, the displeasure neurons would be sent again to rest, while the whole volume of the pleasure neurons left, is consumed. When nothing produces pleasure, when yielding the corresponding neurons to the compulsory rest, the waters of anxiety would start going up slowly. The subject will make full use of all his personal strategies to escape from them, but he is already beaten. It is the moment that deep anguish, general unconformity, fears and anxiety will own his mood. The duration of such a psychic situation depends on the requirements of the displeasure neurons’ "practice", but in general it would be for about two or three hours.

Up to now, we have outlined two different activities that are carried out by impulses that lead to unhappiness like psychic average. The third unhappiness pattern is the combination of both. The first one was the average suffering due to the prolonged frustration of impulses. There, pleasure is not achieved because the satisfaction objects are not achieved. Instead, displeasure of harmful nec. together with peaks of frustration are achieved. In the second pattern, although satisfaction objects are present, deep pleasure does not appear because of the lack of the previous nec. that makes it possible; but deep displeasure is present indeed, caused by the autonomous stimulation of  displeasure neurons, under the form of anxiety, depression or anguish. The third pattern, a mix of this, would be the most common and generalized. That is, some impulses are indefinitely unsatisfied and frustrated, while in the other ones, where there is satisfaction, there is not previous development of the nec. state. In other terms, satisfaction is too easy in some impulses and is extremely difficult in others. On one hand, the pleasure of unsatisfied impulses has obviously no place. On the other hand, the pleasure of those impulses that are easy to be satisfied does not have any intensity, as the state of previous nec. is not developed. Instead, displeasure has free way on both sides: 1-suffering due to unsatisfied or frustrated impulses. 2-anxiety caused by the maintenance activity of displeasure neurons that replaces not felt necs. of the prematurely satisfied impulses.

The three patterns stated, would be the essential ones and they would set up those "basic formulas" for unhappiness. To sum up, unhappiness is achieved with states of emphasized dissatisfaction of necs. or impulses and/or with an excessive comfort that makes the person feel free from all  the efforts or problems.

There would also be three general ways of achieving a better psychic average, and the three of them require, first of all, the regular satisfaction of all the impulses. When talking about satisfaction or non-satisfaction of impulses, it is about a rude notion of all the "cloud" of impulses, taking into account that the global notion that one tries to transmit is understood. For that reason, we will continue with this way of conceiving "the impulses", until the moment to give details about their differences and peculiarities come.

The first form of achieving a better psychic average refers to the situation of having all the facilities, adding their "administration". It consists on allowing the nec. state of each impulse to be developed, before giving it a sheer satisfaction and with flavor of satiety. In such way, the total activity of the nec. or displeasure neurons will be distributed during great part of the day, covering approximately the necessary amount of neuronal activity, so that the participation of the system of autonomous maintenance and its stimulation on those neurons will not be necessary. That would also allow that satisfaction of impulses provokes a more intense pleasure.

The second form is based on having a medium difficulty for the satisfaction of each impulse. We had stated that it is harmful, for the purposes of the psychic average, to have an excessive easiness or excessive difficulty to achieve the satisfaction of impulses. But if the medium difficulty is present in all the impulses, in such way that "it is difficult" but the regular satisfaction is finally achieved, this will make that while the subject is trying to satisfy an impulse, the development of the nec. of another impulse has already begun. Upon achieving the satisfaction of this, the nec. of another one has already increased, and so on. Such a situation makes the satisfaction of each one be intense, to what the frequent and equally intense anticipatory happiness is added by the achievement of partial goals that precede the concrete pleasure of satisfaction. On the other hand, the autonomous displeasure does not appear, as the whole work of displeasure neurons or necs. have approximately been consumed.

Lastly, the third form, that rescues in certain way the positive aspect of the two previous ones, would be the best of all. Both previous forms, in fact, would only relieve unhappiness; or they would rather be closed to neutrality. Instead this last pattern would allow happiness or the favorable average in the personal experience. It is about having all material facilities for the satisfaction of impulses, but the interest is turned to such social activities as game, sports, work when it is amusing, camps, trips, artistic activities, etc.; that is, activities or situations with a great deal of stimulation which maintain during the whole time, a permanent emotional tone and enthusiasm, this is, a continuous state of expectative, uncertainty, suspense, desire, concentration, interest, together with the presence of frequent and deep pleasant reactions.*


* In such sense, besides those activities and  some other situations, it would be necessary to add, for example, what it means falling in love, it also promotes the emotional characteristic tone of enthusiasm.

The state of enthusiasm, at the nervous system level, would be that state where the work of maximum duration and minimum intensity of the displeasure neurons would genuinely take place. Desire, expectation, suspense, are in fact necs. or displeasure states, but they are so light in intensity, that they become extremely light for the subject. Here the intensity of the performance of the displeasure neurons would be minimum, hardly appearing in the experience. But duration, when that psychic state is sustained, would make the necessary working amount of those neurons be consumed. At the same time, during the enthusiasm provoked by those activities or situations, the most intense and frequent states of pleasure are produced, manifesting themselves in deep happiness or joy and delight states and that take place through the intense and repeated satisfaction of impulses participating in the activity and supporting it. Then, once the long day of amusement and enthusiasm was over, we find that the states of thirst, tiredness, heat, hunger have been developed. Thus, apart from having enjoyed the amusing activity for a long time, the intense and healthy satisfaction of the rest of impulses are free to be manifested.

This third form based on social activity mainly, would not only allow the minimum experience displeasure, but also the maximum pleasure, since apart from the frequent and deep pleasures of the impulses that participate in the activity, the other pleasures of the rest of impulses are added, whose necs. have been stimulated by the development of activities.

This way is, not by chance, the best one. It is the essential way of the primitive men's life. Almost the whole day of the primitive tribe was undoubtedly a joint activity, either labor or entertainment activity. It is evident that, as the unity and activity of the group was useful for survival, it had to be the life’s condition that the primitive ones liked most. As in natural terms, everything useful to life provokes pleasure, in the same way but in a broader sense, the conditions or life situations conceived in the extension of time that were useful for the tribe’s survival should provoke a favorable psychic average of pleasure in their members. It is for that reason that natural selection, based on those situations of social activities, fundamental for the group survival, "shaped” the distribution of the performance of the pleasure and displeasure neurons, so that such situations were, in the result, accepted by the tribe members. Otherwise, the general law would try those activities to be avoided, perishing the whole tribe due to the negative effects that such an inactivity would have. For that reason, the most general mechanisms in the psychic operation are adapted, so that the psyche spreads itself in the best way, under the frame of social activities having a great deal of stimulus and shades, being the work naturally highlighted, that is to say, when the primitives’ labor activity, considering their general conditions of life, was for them apart from work, a game, a sport, a school, an art, an adventure at the same time.

As it can be deduced, happiness would suppose, among other elements, the transformation of the social context, in order to make it possible the development of social activities that are able to provoke a state of deep enthusiasm. Passion for the activities to be carried out (together with certain security of satisfaction for all the primary necessities or impulses) is the basis of happiness. The activity, and specially the work, is the frame that surrounds men's normal life. If the activity is carried out without enthusiasm, or if no activity is carried out, it is practically a synonymous of unhappiness.

As conclusion, there would be two general conditions for the social happiness, and in the following order:

1 - Material security for the satisfaction of all the individual impulses or primary necs. 

2 - Proper conditions for the general enthusiasm towards work and social activities.


7. The psychic aspect and its relationship with the nervous system

Before leaving the reflexive level, to discuss deeply about the treatment of impulses, we will stop in the analysis of the relationship between the subjective phenomenon or conscience, experience, idea, spirit and the activity of the nervous system.

The psychic aspect, considered as subjective content (idea, experience, mental image, psychic reaction, "willing" sensation in the push of behavior, etc.), is firstly, and as more elementary and “sure” definition, the effect of the neuronal activity. Then, as it is an effect that can arise out only from the electric activity that neurons have, it is undoubtedly about something material or physical in its essence. However, each entity of reality has two united and inter-penetrated aspects: one is the synthesis, the compound, the entirety, the quality; and the other one is the analysis, the parts, and the quantitative relationships of its components. Thus, a subjective fact, like it may be a concrete mental image is a psychic and physical phenomenon at the same time; it is psychic in its qualitative synthesis or in its global manifestation, and it is physical in its quantitative analysis or due to features of atoms’ movement that participate, their electromagnetic properties and the group of their relationships that form the material or physical face of the same phenomenon.

The unity of both aspects in a same fact is not an "oddity" of the psyche. If we consider one cell as example, we will see that it is a biological and physical fact simultaneously. The quality: life or living cell, is the resulting synthesis coexisting with the analytic "whirl of atoms" that sustains it.

Anyway, from now onwards, we will forget the difference between both aspects, we will only consider that phenomenon as a psychic effect of the neuronal activity (being understood that it is physical or material simultaneously in its essence). The psychic aspect would have an influence on the nervous system, but a passive influence. Let’s see the way this may happen.

As well as the senses organs have nervous receivers that capture the environmental physical, mechanic, chemical stimulation in the central nervous system, the receivers of the psychic aspect would also be present. In the same way that cones and rods (nerve cells receivers of the sight, located in the eye) are qualified to be activated as an answer to a defined measure of longitude of electromagnetic waves of light. This way, psychic phenomena arisen out from the brain’s activity, as they are simultaneously physical in their essence and material consistency, would emit certain waves that would contain something like the integral reflex of their image, that it would be received or captured by those qualified cells (receivers).

The mechanism would be basically the following one. The activity of a first nervous tract generates a passive psychic effect. Before this effect "vanishes", it is received or captured by the qualified receivers cells, which start a new nervous tract as an answer to the received stimulus. The second nervous tract will emit another psychic effect that will be captured by other receivers, and so on. (the cranial concavity may be the "radar" that facilitates the reception of such waves).


8. Passivity of the psychic aspect

The psychic aspect itself is always a passive effect. Nevertheless, it would influence on the course of the following nervous tracts. The role of the psychic aspect in relation to the nervous system would be of the same type than the one of the environmental external stimulus regarding the nervous system and its performance. For example, if one streetlight appears on our way and calls our attention, that streetlight influences on the orientation of the activity of our nervous system. However it is a passive influence. This streetlight does not interfere in the nervous system, ordering it or controlling its activity. It only influences on it, since in the event that the streetlight has not been there, the course of the cerebral reflexes would have been another one. This way, the psychic aspect is as a group of passive stimulus, external to the nervous system. Its influence in the course of the nervous activity would be equivalent to the one of the streetlight, where the only activated thing is the nervous system. The effect of nervous activity (the psychic aspect) would only influence due to the fact of being received by those qualified cells.

The psychic aspect, as we have pointed out, is always a passive effect of the nervous activity. When it stops the activity of neurons that generate it, the psychic effect disappears. It is impossible that this effect can do something more than serving as passive stimulus to be captured by the receivers of the nervous system.

We can deduce then, that a psychic fact can not be directly followed by another one, as a relationship "air-air", but rather the first psychic fact, arisen out from the neuronal activity, is captured by nervous receivers which put into motion another reflexive neuronal tract that emits a second psychic fact as an effect. The work “earth-earth” of neuronal synapses and integral reflexes does have a place together with this. It is a complex combination of events; but direct relationship from one idea to another without the intervention of the nervous activity can not exist in any way, since the "second idea" can not appear if neurons making it arise as effect, are not activated.

The process, analyzed as a whole, would consist on a reciprocal influence relationship between the nervous system and its psychic product. It is a turbulent "zigzag" of nervous activity with the issued psychic effect. Such an effect is received in another area by the nervous system and it emits again another psychic effect, which is received again. This would take place so frequently and in abundance, that there is never an instant without the presence of several psychic facts in existence. The subjective phenomena are constantly covering the psychic, the conscience or the experience panorama, etc. But if we suddenly stop the "wheel", paralyzing the whole group, we will see that the nervous system and its activity is present in “this side”, in the active side; and on the other side, we will find the psychic passive effects or facts that the only thing they do is to be. The psychic aspect itself is always just an effect; it is a quick succession of effects. The nervous system is the expulsing and receiving machine of psychic effects. The coherent sequence of the successive psychic facts would not be more than the product of the coherence of the nervous system’s performance. This is due to psychic facts that could not be captured by any nervous receiver, but by those having a special sensitivity for each type of particular psychic fact. For that reason, the second psychic effect will be the one corresponding to the coherent sequence of ideas (or other subjective contents).

The relationships we have outlined, would be equivalent to those observed in the process of industrial production. In the analogy, the industrial products constitute the passive element; they are the effects of active work carried out by factories, which are equivalent to the nervous system regarding the active element of the process. If we observe the industrial sector as a whole, we will find that there are thousand of factories working and generating products simultaneously. The products leave a factory and, depending on the case, they are "received" by another one, which uses them to produce other products that are received by another one, and so on. Here, the factories are the only active element we find; while the products, playing the leading role of the materials to be used, are always passive elements. However, if we only pay attention at the passive products and their movement, we will see that the sequence, distribution, transfer and any other relationships among them, are something coherent. The same happens with the coherence of the sequence of ideas; it is the passive manifestation of the coherence of the concrete work of the true active element that is the nervous system.


9. The receiving cells of the psychic aspect

The cells of the nervous tissue would be the "candidates" to be the psychic aspect receivers. Such cells are not neurons, but a special kind of nerve cells that are distributed in the nervous system. The quantity is similar to the ones of neurons (thousand of millions), and in general they are surrounding the neurons, defining and getting in touch with them.

Let’s say that although receivers are not the nervous tissue’s cells, but neurons specialized in that receiving function, the essential situation would not vary at all; that is to say, the important matter at this point, is the fact that there would necessary be receiving cells of the psychic aspect in the nervous system. This is the only thing that would explain the sense and function of the psychic fact. If we ignore the existence of nervous receivers that capture the passive psychic stimulus, we will only be able to choose pure idealism that conceives spirit separated from the subject, making fun of the fact that inside the skull, there is a brain in activity or a reduced non-dialectical materialism, limited to the nervous activity denying all sense and function of the psychic effect of the neuronal performance.


10. - Pleasure and displeasure influence on the nervous system

Let’s suppose that there are special receiving cells that capture pleasure and others, displeasure. This way, when the neuronal areas responsible for pleasure or displeasure work and cause the corresponding experience effect, those effects (or that specific physical thing they imply) would be captured by the specialized receivers which, upon being activated, would transmit a specific influence on neurons in activity close to them. The receiving cells of pleasure, once activated, would transmit influence making it easier the future activity on reflexes that were in activity, when pleasure took place. On the other hand, displeasure receivers would cause an inhibiting or breaking effect of the reflexive sequence on the neighbor neurons that were in activity before displeasure took place. 

The active neurons, as they are always in contact with receivers, would cause with their activity, a species of authorization in these receivers, so that they may receive the effect of pleasure or displeasure. Once pleasure or displeasure has been captured by the corresponding receivers, these would cause the respective influence on the neurons that were in activity, before the reception of the corresponding psychic effect.

At this point, it would be necessary to put the information in order before going on. We had stated above (chapter 4), that the functioning of the general law and of impulses, can not be any other thing than the global product arisen out from the activity that reflexes carry out, which are only moved taking into account excitement-inhibition. On the other hand, reflexes falling under the order of the general law, were those we had called directed reflexes. Lastly, we understood that the coherent sequence of directed reflexes could only result from the control of one facilitation mechanism and selective hindrance of nervous tracts. Then, such a selective mechanism would consist on the distribution of receiving pleasure and displeasure cells along the brain, which would be qualified to exercise that control on the course of the nervous tracts. The receiving pleasure cells, when being activated with the appearance of pleasure, would cause a facilitation of the future activity in the neighbor neurons that are part of an active reflex, being recorded or conditioned the easiness of the ulterior activity of that reflexive sequence. And the receiving displeasure cells, upon receiving displeasure, would record a higher resistance of activity in the reflex structure, so that the same nervous tract is not repeated, that is to say, they would cause a virtual separation from the reflex sequence whose activity ended up in displeasure.

These mechanisms would include even those reflexes that underlie the intentional activity under these ideas or abstraction frame. The reasoning and mental representations, are in general accompanied by concrete pleasure or displeasure reactions according to the nature of the represented content. Such pleasure or displeasure reactions would also be captured by the corresponding receivers which would guide, based on the stated mechanism, the course of the cerebral reflexes that sustain the ideas. In all the cases, the reflexive sequence that ended up in pleasure would become stronger by means of a recorded consolidator started by the receiving pleasure cells that surround the reflex structure; while the receiving displeasure cells, equally distributed, would begin the "disarming" of the reflexes that led to displeasure, or at least they would increase their resistance, making its future activation difficult.

This would be the mechanism where the learning of the intentional behavior underlies which, like we know, consists basically in the consolidation of what leads to pleasure and the suppression of what it is related to displeasure.

We have seen that the general law, at reflex level, consists on a group of directed reflexes. These ones would be guided, as we have already stated, by the selective mechanism of facilitation-hindrance according to pleasure-displeasure with which each reflex tract is associated. The pleasure and displeasure receivers would be the executors of that association or conditioning. It is an automatism through which reflexes would be "awarded" or "punished" as they lead to pleasure or displeasure. The prize is the conditioning facilitator of the future excitement encouraged by the pleasure receivers, and the punishment the inhibition or hindrance of the reflex repetition that led to displeasure, in charge of receiving displeasure cells that surround the reflex.

All this situation is inside one of the forces in fight; it corresponds to the general and essential tendency of motivation to affirm pleasure and to deny displeasure. The other group of reflexes that forms the opponent forces resides in the activity part of the  nervous system that is not under the control of that selective mechanism. The opponent forces would be based on reflexive tracts already settled down in their excitement-inhibition sequence, besides the new unavoidable autonomous conditionings. They constitute a great machinery of reflexes that tend to generate displeasure and to inhibit pleasure automatically. Intention and the total system of directed reflexes sustaining it, are always fighting against this machinery.


11. The directed reflexes

What we have discussed so far on the pleasure and displeasure receivers and their influence on the course of directed reflexes, only refer to the guider mechanism of the  reflexes course, to the yes or not as stable conditionings for the reflex tracts, as they lead to pleasure or displeasure. But we have not seen yet, what the original push of movement and directed reflexes activity which underlie the active premeditation, responds to. Beyond that guider mechanism of the reflexes direction, we should analyze which is the motor of the directed reflexes, as it is the only thing missing .

We know that the directed tendency of impulses responds to the nec state. Then, as the directed tendency is formed by directed reflexes, they would move or put in motion as an answer to the nec state. Therefore, the "first impulse" of directed reflexes would consist on the activation of certain displeasure or nec. receivers, which once activated, would put the group of directed reflexes in motion, underlying to premeditation, that go towards satisfaction. At the same time, that pushing force, practically blind in itself, would be guided by the facilitation mechanism and selective hindrance of nervous tracts (learning) that it has already traced the way to reflexes and keeps on doing it.

Directed reflexes may also be put in motion as an answer to the sub threshold effect to the experience of the work displeasure neurons or nec. carry out; that is to say, although the neurons activity that provokes the nec. state is not intense enough so as to feel the nec. in the experience, nevertheless there would be a physical effect (pseudo-psychic) arisen out from that neuronal performance that would be captured by those receivers, which would put the directed reflexes in motion, being anticipated to the own experience of  nec.

On the other hand, it is also feasible that directed reflexes respond directly to the own synapses of the displeasure neurons or nec., in combination with that.

But at this point, it necessarily arises the “last” question about why or how the managed reflexes underlying the active premeditation tend automatically to the affirmation of pleasure and the denial of displeasure, and why the first one “likes” and the second one “does not like”. Firstly, we do not have to forget that all this is product of the biological evolution and of the laws of natural selection. This explanation means that such phenomena, functions or mechanisms, meant useful elements for survival of organisms in which they were born. And they were so useful, that they remained and developed themselves in diverse animals, reaching to what it is manifested as human intention.

Regarding the reasons why pleasure “likes” and displeasure “does not like”, the question itself, as noticed, is tricky. It is like wondering why the sensation or perception of red color appears "reddish", or the green one "greenish" or why it is listened what is "heard", or also, why the bones are "bony". That is, it is almost like wondering why reality is real. These matters, however, are quite cleared up through the conception of the dialectical materialism. We just have to accept that those are phenomena, functions, elements or qualities that have potentially existed in the properties of the subject before their appearance. And as they turned out to be useful for the organisms in the conditions and combinations that appeared, the natural selection encouraged their maintenance and development.

Regarding the automatism of directed reflexes, taking into account the necessary destines of their orientation, although the fact itself is really astonishing, it is not something so "extraordinary" if it is compared with other highly complex and incredible mechanisms and physiologic systems, also "automatic" in their performance. But here the last explanation of the phenomenon, that is, why such reflexes are necessarily guided in a defined direction, it can be compared to the attraction and repulsion essence like elementary forces of the subject. It is about the necessary character of the dialectical contradiction, of a unity and opponents fight as a basic condition, so that movement is possible; in our case, the movement of behavior. For that reason it was necessary a pair of opponents appearing as the positive and the negative things; manifesting themselves at global level as "attractive" one of them and "repellent" the other one, so that the reflexes underlying active intention are developed like one of the forces in fight.

To understand how indispensable is the presence of a basic motive contradiction for the functional dynamism of the phenomenon, we also have to understand its theoretical importance. Thus, for example, if there exists an intelligent life in other worlds, if there are beings with subjectivity acting in an intentional way, they should also move in the frame of a contradiction or opponents fight, they should necessarily have a similar automatism to ours that appears as essential and absolute tendency to achieve the positive effect and/or to put aside the negative one. Otherwise, they would not be simply intentional beings; they would not have either "interest" or motivation.

If it is also pretended to develop an android or a being with artificial intelligence simulating the human mind (or an animal at the beginning), that is to say, having motivation, intention, learning capacity and "own motor" in its elaborations, that basic condition will have to be kept in mind firstly.

To sum up, what we can rescue at this point, is the fact that the brain entails a system of guided directed reflexes (and guided by that selective mechanism) automatically towards the stimulation of a neurons area and/or the inhibition of another one; and this is manifested at global level or due to the subjective synthesis, as intention, as willing experience in the push of behavior. All this, either if it is considered from its objective performance of reflexes or from its subjective manifestation as experienced intentional force, they are two faces of the same thing, they are "the cells and the organ"; they are two ways of focusing the same absolute and "unavoidable" tendency towards the affirmation of pleasure and denial of displeasure, and we call this, general law of psyche.


12. The directed tendency

The impulse is composed of three elements: nec. - D.T. - satisfaction. The directed tendency is the active part of the impulse, it is the "arrow in motion" underlying the whole colors of the clear behavior that pursues satisfaction.

The D.T. of the impulse and the clear behavior have a relationship of essence and phenomenon, or content and form, respectively. The D.T. is the pushing force that tends to put an end to the displeasure of the nec. and to achieve the pleasure of the satisfaction; and the clear behavior is the way this happens, it is all the organism "makes" in order to achieve satisfaction. Example, the D.T. of the drinking impulse is just the force that pushes to put an end to thirst displeasure and to achieve the pleasure of the act of drinking; and the obvious behavior is, for example, to fill a glass with water and proceed to drink. Both aspects are together. Only that the D.T. is the content or underlying essence, and the concrete behavior is the form, the obvious phenomenon.

The D.T., as we have said before, is the unity of the two partial tendencies (denying displeasure and affirming pleasure). But, apart from that, it is the unit of other elements. One of them is the instinct. Instinct is that part of the D.T. based on fixed and innate sequences of directed reflexes, that do not require of the mechanism of selective facilitation-hindrance, but they already entail the sequence: excitement-inhibition. Instinct is the innate machinery of fixed sequences of behavior, shared by all the members of the species, and it is guided from nec. towards satisfaction. In human behavior it is relatively little the existence of fixed or invariable reflexive sequences, since the space reserved to learning has almost comprised the entirety of the sequences of directed reflexes that form the D.T. Nevertheless, the instinctive part exists; example, the sequence of mastication movements, or hiding before a surprising danger, these are dominantly instinctive behaviors and common to all men.

The other part of the D.T. corresponds to the immensity of what it was learnt, to the infinity of behavior sequences that are also profiled from nec. towards the satisfaction object, but they can vary infinite times from an individual to another one taking into account their different experience. This acquired part of the D.T. may be divided into two classes. One is the learning at practical behavior level, where the performance of a sequence of acts that led to the pleasure effect of satisfaction is recorded, repeating itself regularly while it continues being effective for the impulse. It is about a kind of one "learned instinct". For example, certain type of behavior carried out during intercourse, is associated to pleasure more strongly than others, being recorded and repeating itself spontaneously afterwards. The learning of those behaviors consisting in recording  a sequence of acts tending to be repeated as it has been effective for the organism’s purposes, was called by Skinner: conditioning R type, also known as operating conditioning*. Lastly, the other class of learned behavior corresponds to the operation of abstract and creative intelligence. The activity of mental representation is included in the D.T., since it includes all the strategies, elaborations, plans, etc. that will be summarized with the concept: directed ideas-making, and that are also guided towards the impulse satisfaction. For example, once one feels hungry, one starts thinking how to get food.


* Skinner B. F. La conducta de los organismos. Editorial Fontanella. Barcelona 1979 (Skinner B. F. "The behavior of organisms").

To sum up all we have discussed, we find the following elements composing the D.T:

In the upper diagram (1) we can appreciate the D.T. of the impulse as the indifferent total of events that take place in the organism to satisfy the nec. In the second diagram, we find the decomposition of that active group in five elements:

A: partial denier tendency of the nec. displeasure.
B: partial affirmation tendency of the satisfaction’s pleasure.
1: instinct, or innate and fixed part of directed reflexes.
2: operators, or learned portion of directed   reflexes at concrete level.
3: directed ideas-making or learned and creative portion of directed reflexes sequences at abstract level.

The last three components of the D.T. are not excluded one to each other, but they rather act in a complementary way. They are the three kinds of directed reflexes that cooperate to put an end to the nec. displeasure and to affirm the satisfaction's pleasure. In man, instinct is the most insignificant, continuing in importance the operating conditioning, while the most significant portion of human behavior is guided by thought or directed ideas-making.

Although directed ideas-making is part of the creative field of thought, it essentially responds to the same mechanism by which operators are fixed: consolidation of what it is associated to pleasure and suppression of what it is tied to displeasure (law of effect). The difference only lies in that the operators are consolidated or skipped based on the concrete pleasure or displeasure at level of facts and as a result of the practical behavior, while the ideas-making is consolidated or skipped according to the pleasure or displeasure that generate the own contents of thought (commonly reactions of anticipatory pleasure or displeasure of what it would imply to put an idea or another one into practice).

Regarding both partial tendencies of D.T. (the one that affirms pleasure or satisfaction and the other one that denies displeasure or nec.) they have an indestructible unit. It is the same behavior leaving displeasure and looking for pleasure. Such a unit is as if somebody crossed a door, going from a corridor to a room. Simultaneously he is leaving the corridor and entering the room. For that reason, denial of nec. and affirmation of satisfaction are two aspects united in the same fact. Entrance to satisfaction is the exit of nec., and vice versa, the exit of the nec. is the entrance to satisfaction. Nevertheless, the nec. (hunger, thirst, fear, desire, etc.) is the one that puts the D.T in movement. This way for example, when one tries to achieve pleasure, one is responding to the appearance of desire as nec. On the other hand, when one tries to avoid pain, it is due to the fact that, previous fear to the painful stimulus has arisen. When pain is avoided one is responding to the nec. :fear. If fear did not arise as nec., pain would not be avoided. Either pleasure or enjoyment would be searched if desire did not appear as nec.

Beyond the analysis of the elements that make D.T., we will keep in mind the essential components of the impulse: nec. - D.T. - satisfaction. We will only remember that the D.T. is the active part of the impulse, and that it is the merger of those five elements.


13. Classification of reflexes

It is necessary to put in order the different types of reflexes. There would be two valid classifications that are transversals one to each other:

1 - The total group of reflexes of the nervous system is divided into autonomous or different from intention, and directed or underlying intention.
2 - That same total group of reflexes of the nervous system, as Pavlov pointed out*,
is divided into unconditioned or innate, and conditioned or acquired.


* Pavlov Ivan. Reflejos condicionados e inhibiciones. Ediciones Península. Barcelona 1975 (Pavlov Ivan "Conditioned reflexes  and inhibitions").

Schematically:

Both classifications, crossly combined, arise due to the existence of two important couples of things simultaneously: the innate-acquired aspect and the intentional-non intentional aspect. The innate aspect corresponds to unconditioned reflexes, and the acquired aspect to conditioned ones. Then, the intentional aspect corresponds to directed reflexes and the non-intentional aspect to the autonomous ones.

The general law is based on the group of directed reflexes, conditioned as well as unconditioned. Opponent forces are based on autonomous reflexes, either unconditioned or conditioned.

Taking into account the four spaces marked by the cross in the diagram, the instinct is located at the bottom left square. The instinctive aspect is the group of unconditioned directed reflexes. The operators and directed ideas-making cover between both, the total of conditioned directed reflexes, that is the bottom right square.

The conditioning of these last reflexes would take place, as we have already seen, through the facilitation mechanism and selective hindrance of nervous tracts, as they lead pleasure or displeasure (law of effect), and on the basis of the performance of cells receiving those effects, as executors of such association.



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© Author: Alberto E. Fresina
Title: "The Laws of Psyche"
Title of the original Spanish Version:
"Las Leyes del Psiquismo"
Fundar Editorial
Printed in Mendoza, Argentina
I.S.B.N. 987-97020-9-3
Mendoza, 14th July, 1999
Copyright registered at the National Copyright Bureau in 1988, and at the Argentine Book Camera in 1999, year of its publication.
Translated by Ana El kassir with the collaboration of Marcela Berenguer
Characteristic of the original copy in Spanish: Number of pages: 426; measures: 5.9 x 8.27 x 1 inch; weight: 1.2lb.



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