Reply To: CBT

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Ok, so here’s how Popa thinks emotions work. And this is what I’m saying:

Let’s start with simple emotion. Your dog dies and you are sad. So you have a stimulus of dog dying. Then your brain picks up that this is something that should make you sad. So your brain tells your body to release chemicals that make you feel that sadness, and you feel sad. Dog died—>felt sad.

Now, if someone would have scanned your brain while you were sad, they would have seen all those sad chemicals swirling around. But if they asked why you were sad, they would have known that it was because your dog died.

Suppose some jerk leaves davening early when you wanted to and now you can’t leave because you are the minyan. Your brain tells your body to release the angry chemicals, and it does, and it results in you feeling angry. If someone scanned your brain, they would see angry chemicals, but you are angry because of the jerk.

If you bang your elbow, your brain tells you body to do whatever it does that makes you feel pain. And someone could scan your brain and see those nerve endings firing, and maybe think that nerve endings firing caused your elbow to hurt. But you know it was your banging your elbow.

So studies which show that depressed people have less serotonin are just restating the obvious: that the brain works through chemical transmitters. But they don’t show anything about what causes those chemicals to be released or not released.

Now, so we’ve established that when dog dies, you feel sad because your brain releases sad chemicals (or withdrawn happy chemicals, either way). How about when you feel sad all the time? So your brain obviously has released the sad chemicals–but why has it? It’s probably a good idea to wonder what it could be about your life that your brain thinks you are experiencing constant sad stimuli. Maybe you are constantly anxious about things–that might be a good reason to be sad. And then you should ask why you’re anxious. Maybe your a perfectionist and nothing is ever good enough, so it makes sense to be anxious. In which case you should ask where that perfectionism came from. Maybe it was your parents who made you think you were a failure for being a normal imperfect kid.

Imagine you went to the doctor and said, “it hurts”, and he just prescribed a painkiller without asking why it hurts or trying to figure it out. Would you go back to that doctor? Well, why not? He did solve the symptom you came complaining about. Never mind the blood dripping from your elbow.