Scientific Understanding of Consciousness
Consciousness as an Emergent Property of Thalamocortical Activity

Feelings (Damasio)



Term feeling should be reserved for the private, mental experience of an emotion, while the term emotion should be used to designate the collection of responses, many of which are publicly observable. (Damasio; Feeling of What Happens, 42)

Machinery of feelings is a contributor to the process of consciousness, namely to the creation of the self. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 110)

Feelings of pain or pleasure or some quality in between are the bedrock of our minds. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 3)

All feelings contain some aspect of pain or pleasure as a necessary ingredient. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 123)

Some variation of pleasure or pain is a consistent content of the perception we call feeling. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 85)

Drugs such as Valium that remove the affect component of pain but leave the sensation of pain impact -- you "feel" the pain but do not care. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 104)

Feelings are at the very top of the innate automated life governance machine -- the homeostasis machine. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 34)

Feelings are based on composite representations of the state of life in the process of being adjusted for survival. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 130)

Contents of feelings are the configuration of body state represented in somatosensing maps. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 132)

A feeling of emotion is an idea of the body when it is perturbed by the emoting process. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 88)

Perceptions, Objects and Feelings

Visual perceptions correspond to external objects. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 91)

In the case of feelings, the objects and events at the origin are well inside the body rather than outside of it. Feelings may be just as mental as any other perception, but the objects being mapped are parts and states of the living organism in which feelings arise. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 91)

The "object" of an emotion or a feeling -- the sight of a spectacular seascape is an emotionally competent object. The body state that results from beholding that seascape is the actual object which is then perceived in the feeling state. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 91)

Feelings are not a passive perception or a flash in time, especially not in the case of feelings of joy and sorrow. For a while after an occasion of such feelings begins -- for seconds or for minutes -- there is a dynamic engagement of the body, almost certainly in repeated fashion, and a subsequent dynamic variation of the perception. We perceive a series of transitions. We sense and interplay, a give-and-take. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 92)

All feelings are feelings of some of the basic regulatory reactions, or of appetites, or of emotions-proper. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 92)

We react to most, perhaps all, objects with emotions, however weak, and subsequent feelings, however feeble. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 93)


Feelings and Brain Maps

Feelings are related to neural mappings of body state. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 96)

The essential content of feelings is the mapping of a particular body state. The substrate of feelings is a set of neural patterns from which a mental image of the body state can emerge. A feeling in essence is an idea. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 88)

Feelings are a mental expression of all other levels of homeostatic regulation. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 37)

Goal of the homeostasis endeavor in humans is to provide a better than neutral life state, what humans identify as wellness and well-being. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 35)

Regulatory reactions that ensure our homeostasis consists of a hierarchy of simple reactions (FAPs) incorporated as the components of more elaborate ones, a nesting of the simple within the complex. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 37)

Somatosensory regions are involved in the feeling process, and the insula is involved perhaps more significantly than any other structure. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 105)

Class of signals most likely to represent the content of feelings -- signals related to pain states; body temperature; flush; pH; tickle; shutter; viseral and genital sensations; the state of smooth musculature in blood vessels and other viscera; local pH; glucose; osmolality; presence of inflammatory agents; etc.. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 106)

Somatosensory regions appear to be a critical substrate for feelings, and the insular cortex appears to be the pivotal region of the set. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 106)

Feelings become possible because there are brain maps available to represent body states. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 111)

Brain maps become possible because the brain machinery of body regulation requires them in order to make its regulatory adjustments, namely those adjustments that occur during the unfolding of an emotional reaction. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 111)

Mental images we call feelings arise from the neural patterns exhibited in body maps. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 123)


Background Feelings

Background feelings help define our mental state. (Damasio; Feeling of What Happens, 286)

Prominent background feelings include: fatigue; energy; excitement; wellness; sickness; tension; relaxation; surging; dragging; stability; instability; balance; imbalance; harmony; discord. (Damasio; Feeling of What Happens, 286)

Moods are made up of modulated and sustained background feelings. (Damasio; Feeling of What Happens, 286)

Background feelings -- a part of the neural signaling that goes on in the brainstem and hypothalamus is continually made conscious. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 126)

Background feelings -- the way you feel when you're coming down with a cold, or better still, "on top of the world." (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 126)




Return to Emotion

Link to Consciousness Subject Outline

Further discussion Covington Theory of Consciousness