How are instincts and emotions related?

In class I explained to my students the physiology of human expressions.

There is the human brain (hardware) that produces the mind/intellect (software). Then there are the natural instincts of the body, which are innate biological responses to the physical environment. When the mind through thoughts assigns a definite meaning to instincts, feelings/emotions are produced. Hence every emotion is always associated with a type of thought-belief.

To feel fear, I have to believe there is some danger or misfortune. To feel hope, I have to believe there is a possibility of something better. In both instances, an instinct is just guided by a thought-belief to produce a defined emotional experience.

Next there is imagination. After an emotion is generated, the mind forms visual images that corresponds to the specific emotion, which gives birth to imagination. Hence, imagination is the result of the combined working of feeling and intellect.

One of many implications is that for us to feel “so emotional” about something, we must have assigned a fixed meaning through thoughts about an experience. But it is only when we try to objectively examine, question, and transcend our fixed meanings that we open ourselves to perceive Truth.

~Dr. Ikenna Q. Ezealah

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